Holy Pause

Within the first week of the Quarantine I came across many wellness blogs and Instagram captions imploring me to view this time as a period of healing for Mother Earth, or a time when the denizens of Mother Earth, all of us, should do some healing of our own. Even with a thoroughly established mindfulness practice and fresh out of an intensive 6-month yoga teacher training, I was rocked by the news with all its unbelievable numbers and had some difficulty finding my footing. A peace came to me eventually and thankfully sooner rather than later, but I am grateful I let myself be anxious and afraid for others and myself first.

Finding words for things like this is something I do to digest them, and “rest” and “healing” were not terms that immediately came to mind. I know I cannot be alone in that. Eventually, a phrase I have heard over the years and thought of by someone much older and wiser than me came to mind: holy pause. Holy pause is a colloquial expression sometimes used in reference to the term statio, the concept of stopping one thing before starting another, and is well established in monastic traditions. A discipline that is important to develop in our normal lives of course, but during a time when everything has come to a standstill, it can still teach us something important.

The best expression of this concept is the breath. There is a pause between each breath- after the inhale when the lungs are full of air, and after the exhale, when they are empty. Breath teaches us statio in the sense that you must stop breathing out before breathing in again, the necessity for a pause built-in. Depending on how this Quarantine hit you, it either felt like you could do this for a while, with full lungs at the top of the breath, or with a subtle panic, like when your lungs are empty for a beat too long. Either way, the Quarantine is something of a holy pause for everyone, a time filled with kinetic energy for the next moment of our lives, and a time of stopping the bad habits and ways of living we never had time to address previously. An enormous spiritual task, but our breath can serve as a reminder that this, like anything else, is cyclical in nature. I cannot guarantee that everything will go back to normal, and it likely won’t, but it will come to an end just as everything must. Whatever you have done during this time, know that it was the right thing. Just be mindful as we all take our next breath.