Bloom! Pausing

This week we explored the theme of Pausing in our daily sessions. Bloom Pause is a community offering that meets remotely using Zoom. Each week we explore a new theme through discussion, sharing, meditation, and practices to improve daily life. If you'd like to join Bloom Pause, sign up here.

During this experience of COVID 19, the entire world has been called to pause. We have been stopped in our tracks because of this virus. We have been called to look at ourselves personally and collectively, at our society and our systems of power on a profound level. Personal and collective shadow has been exposed and continues to be revealed. Bloom! emerged during this time and in response to the felt call for blooming a new way of being and era.

Tara Brach has a chapter in her book Radical Acceptance: Embracing your Life with the Heart of a Buddha called The Sacred Pause. In it, she writes, "Much of our driven pace and habitual controlling in daily life does not serve to survive, and certainly not thriving. It arises from free-floating anxiety about something being wrong or not enough... Through the sacred art of pausing, we develop the capacity to stop hiding, to stop running away from our experience. We begin to trust in our natural intelligence, in our naturally wise heart, in our capacity to be open to whatever arises. Like awakening from a dream, in the moment of pausing our trance recedes and Radical Acceptance becomes possible."

The trance Dr. Brach speaks of is the unconscious trance of unworthiness that can so easily be triggered in any one of us, as we are all human and struggle with vulnerability. And, as we have explored in recent weeks, through the work of Brene' Brown, from her book The Gifts of Imperfection, we heal core unworthiness rooted in shame, fear, and disconnection by calling in the healing energy of connection, compassion, and courage to our most vulnerable parts. Doing so especially when caught in a shame story spiral is critical. Practicing the sacred art of pausing, as Tara Brach offers, is what helps us take that time out, that step back, so we can notice what story we're trapped in and its accompanying feelings. And most of all, by noticing through the sacred pause, we can activate a conscious response rather than reacting out of habitual patterns of a conditioned ego.

She goes on to write, "pausing interrupts entrenched patterns of interactions." And this is true for within, for higher self to part inner relationships as well as interpersonally, in relationship with others and our environments. "When the downward spiral of judging and misunderstanding is stopped, even for a brief time, it becomes possible to recognize the unconscious beliefs and feelings that lie behind the problem. Such insight naturally leads to making wiser choices." There is no more important time for a sacred pause than now, during this charged time in our shared history.

Group perspectives on what the COVID 19 pause has allowed for in their life:

  • We appreciate how important and precious our relationships are. Especially when we are not able to easily visit others in person, as has been the case during COVID 19 lockdown.
  • On the flip side, people checked in more with others via telephone, text, or virtual online meet-ups to see if they are okay and provide regular support. This has also opened up connections and opportunities that would have otherwise not been possible. 
  • We realized how often we don't pause on a daily basis and how important it actually is to pause throughout the day. 
  • Created pause for a reality check, where people started questioning and reflecting on their current way of life and daily habits: 
    • "Is this thing (object/thought/circumstance) really necessary?"
    • "Do I still want to be doing XYZ?"
    • "What other way of life is possible?"
    • "Isn't it nice to be doing this now and not what I was doing before!" 
  • Many were no longer consumed with constant events and appointments and were able to participate in more relaxing activities and hobbies, especially with those near and dear.
  • The COVID 19 pause also provided a valuable opportunity for some to create new ventures and support people through the pandemic. Plus, cultivate a new way of being... such as our Bloom venture! 
  • Appreciative of technology and how it has been the primary way for millions to keep in touch with each other and continue their businesses during the pandemic. Although, we acknowledge that many jobs and businesses have also suffered during the pandemic that is not able to be transferred to a technology-based platform.   It has been a time of great innovation. As well as honoring a time of profound loss, disruption, and uncertainty - hence grief. 
  • It has caused us to see our ego-based behaviors and question if coming from a place of fear or love... able to choose a new way of being. 
  • Also, see our shadow sides more, for example, how often we may go into anxiety and have a tendency to go to the worst-case scenario first - catastrophizing. 
  • Stop seeing situations as catastrophes and that we can manage to survive, and even thrive, in the most challenging of circumstances. To bloom and experience inner peace even during the most trying of times. 
  • Allowed us to rest, take care of ourselves and enjoy hobbies and other pursuits that we didn't make time for prior to COVID 19. 
  • Let us not underestimate the power of rest, sleep, and self-care in order to maintain strong Self-energy and a balanced and healthy spirit, body, and mind.
  • Practice patience and mindfulness, especially when responding to another.
  • Consciously pause and think before saying something. Stop oneself through a thought track, observe and choose a new thought.
  • We don't have to be perfect all the time and have learned to be flexible and adaptive to new ways of doing and being.
  • Having an acute illness can create or force decisive moments in one's life. In some cases, having had prior experience with life-threatening illness being a radical turning point for a deeper connection to the soul and life's journey had prepared them for a conscious response to what COVID 19 presented. This was the case for Maria - which is a core root for the bloom way of being. 
  • Going through other illnesses also helped prepare one to better deal with the COVID-19 pandemic - feeling emotionally resilient for the experience of living with an illness already and the knowing that illness can strike at any moment. This knowing can prepare us for decisive action needed when it does occur. 
  • Book recommendation: Close to the Bone: Life-Threatening Illness and the Search for Meaning by Jean Shinoda Bolen - this was a critical book for Maria in her journey using her life-threatening illness in 2007 as a turning point in her life. 

Suggested practice:

Make a point of pausing each hour this week.

Make it at least 1 minute but doesn't need to be more than 3-5 minutes to feel the benefit. Perhaps do this at the top of each hour or at the end of each hour - no matter what's going on... perhaps set a timer on your phone for the pause prompt.

And, try these words:

In spite of my (insert whatever is going on for you in that moment interfering with your ability to pause...)

It is the will of my heart to be open.

I notice my breath...

I notice my body...

I offer the Light of my Awareness for whatever is called for...

for healing and transmutation to completion.

And, so it is.

Questions for Reflection:

  1. What has the pause imposed by COVID 19 allowed for in your life?
  2. What have you learned about yourself from this experience that would have never been possible had it not been for this pause?
  3. What if pausing, taking a time out/step back could help you calm your nervous system in a sustainable way that could change your life forever? What could support you doing this daily?
  4. What if the keys to your cage were in your hand the whole time you'd believed you were trapped?
  5. What if running or hiding from the things we fear only fuels shadow's engine; but, instead of running we could offer the light to shadow through care, compassion, communication, connection, and the like? What could this allow for in your life?

In Bloom we grow,

Maria Mellano


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