Day 7: Slow the Pace
For our last pause together in our 7-day winter series, I encourage you to see pausing as an act of self-kindness. In the simple act of making space and taking a breath, we are being kind to our inner self – that part of us that needs to be heard.
I read a poem by John O’Donohue: For One Who Is Exhausted. He speaks to all of us who race from one thing to the next without pausing and urges us, in our exhausted state, “to be excessively gentle” with ourselves.
Take this moment for yourself today, to pause, listen and reflect on how you can create more pause in your life.
Hello and welcome to the last day of 7 Days on the Winter Mountain – a chance for us to pause together for a few minutes.
And I’m standing in pretty much the same place that I stood on the last day of our 21-day series last year – in the middle of a field. This time with a lot of snow and encircled by all the mountains that you’ve already seen. It’s the most beautiful spot. Up to my left here is the Pointe de Sales. Behind me the majestic Tenneverge and to my right the Dents de Verreu.
And as we’ve been setting up the video here andIi’ve been waiting, it struck me that when we just stand still for a moment, it’s as if time slows down, isn’t it? You know, when we do our pause, we pause just for a couple of minutes, which at any other time would be no time at all. And yet that two minutes can seem as if it’s forever. So isn’t that funny that when we cease to busy ourselves, things slow down. Time seems to slow down, when in fact it doesn’t actually slow down at all.
And as I’ve said before, you know, I work with a lot of people who are incredibly busy, for whom life is just one big hectic race, for whom it’s extremely difficult to find a moment to stop. And yet. as I’ve said before, it is essential. If we can’t stop for ourselves, how can we possibly stop for others? If we can’t form the habit of knowing what it’s like to pause, how can we pause and listen to others? So I think of pausing as an act of self-kindness, so that we can be there and be kind to others. If we don’t know what it feels like, it’s really hard to do it for others with any sincerity.
And I was thinking this morning about one of my favorite poets. An Irish poet, John O’Donohue, who was a poet, an author, a priest earlier in his life, a theologian and a philosopher. He wrote the most beautiful poetry including this volume, which was published just a couple of months before he died, at the age of 52 in his sleep: To Bless the Space Between Us. Originally I think it was The Book of Blessings. And I was struck by his definition of the word blessing. He explains
blessing as a way of life, as a lens through which the whole world is transformed. I really love that.
And I know I’ve spoken in this series – indeed, just yesterday – about, you know, noticing what we notice. And how we notice it. Noticing how we see things. Realising that actually what is there objectively can be transformed for the good or for the bad through our own lens. Just knowing that that’s true. Remembering it in any moment.
And if I may, I’d like to read you one of my favourite poems that a friend of mine brought back to my mind recently when she sent it out by email to her community. It’s entitled ‘For One Who Is Exhausted’. I think we all know what it feels like to be exhausted and you might well be feeling that now. So please make yourself comfortable – I’ll do my best to do it justice – and just listen to his beautiful words. And afterwards we’ll move into our pause, as a space to reflect on what we’ve just heard, so listen as best you can, as carefully as you can, to the words that resonate for you.
When the rhythm of the heart becomes hectic,
Time takes on the strain until it breaks;
Then all the unattended stress falls in
On the mind like an endless, increasing weight.
The light in the mind becomes dim.
Things you could take in your stride before
Now become laboursome events of will.
Weariness invades your spirit.
Gravity begins falling inside you,
Dragging down every bone.
The tide you never valued has gone out.
And you are marooned on unsure ground.
Something within you has closed down;
And you cannot push yourself back to life.
You have been forced to enter empty time.
The desire that drove you has relinquished.
There is nothing else to do now but rest
And patiently learn to receive the self
You have forsaken in the race of days.
At first your thinking will darken
And sadness take over like listless weather.
The flow of unwept tears will frighten you.
You have traveled too fast over false ground;
Now your soul has come to take you back.
Take refuge in your senses, open up
To all the small miracles you rushed through.
Become inclined to watch the way of rain
when it falls slow and free.
Imitate the habit of twilight,
Taking time to open the well of color
That fostered the brightness of day.
Draw alongside the silence of stone
Until its calmness can claim you.
Be excessively gentle with yourself.
Stay clear of those vexed in spirit.
Learn to linger around someone of ease
Who feels they have all the time in the world.
Gradually you will return to yourself,
Having learned a new respect for your heart
And the joy that dwells far within slow time.
Thank you for listening.
And now let’s move into our pause. Remembering the three steps: pressing the pause button just here (the solar plexus), bringing your awareness into this space and as you do breathing into the space, to create the space to think, to be, to listen. And see which of the words that I’ve
just read of this beautiful poem you find in your mind. And be with them for these moments of pause. So close your eyes or lower your gaze and enjoy your pause…
When you’re ready, open your eyes or lift your gaze.
Thank you for joining me today and for this whole series. It’s been an absolute joy to create these videos for you, to feel the sense of your presence. I wish you as much joy as possible
and as deep a joy as possible in this year ahead. Let’s all hope that we’ll have the freedom to travel as soon as possible, to be with our friends, to be with each other, to connect and to reconnect.
And until then, I wish you peace.