Mindful Pause – How to Live with Ambiguity in Life

In our modern times, anxiety, unfortunately, has become the norm. And oftentimes, if you become more relaxed, it may even feel like you are not “on top” of something or have been negligent about certain responsibilities. Despite the perceived normalcy of anxiety, it is not a natural state of being. Anxiety exaggerates the proportions of issues and makes you view the world in a skewed manner. Basically, anxiety takes a difficult but still manageable situation and convinces you that it’s completely unbearable and unfixable – so it becomes a crisis. As a result, and, as in any crisis situation, you have two choices: either to completely withdraw from the situation or deal with it in a swift (but not always beneficial) way to avoid being stuck in this crisis mode for a long time.

Neither of those choices are usually the best ones but both stemming from the same notion being heavily cultivated in our fast-paced society: inability to exist in any uncomfortable situations. Quick solutions to everything seem to be the modern answer to generating success in life. It may indeed bring you certain results but discomfort avoidance then becomes the perpetual motion in creating more anxiety and thus searching for yet another quick fix – you may be stuck in your own vicious cycle forever.

So what’s the answer and what is there to do?

“Short moments, many times” should become your motto in dealing with any overwhelming thoughts or feelings. You literally need to hit the pause button in order to give yourself a break (and do it as often as you feel the anxiety rising). You need to learn to give yourself a “mindful pause”. That doesn’t mean you have to enclose yourself in a dark corner and sit in meditation for an hour. Who has the time to do it in a middle of the day?! And, let’s be honest, would you be able to switch your attention for so long when all you feel is anxiety? I’m afraid not. All you actually need is 30 seconds to 2 minutes to perform the “mindful pause” exercise and you can do it anytime and anywhere, your office, your car, on a bus or a park bench in a busy city.

Mindful pause creates the environment, both physical and mental, that allows for uncertainty to exist and trains you to tolerate that discomfort that you were trying to avoid with all your mighty power, which in turn perpetuated anxiety to begin with. Uncertainty is not something that modern society teaches you to tolerate, just look at all the technology-based solutions available for your consumption – delayed gratification is now an obsolete trait that goes hand in hand with forgotten ability to survive in any ambiguous situations.

The Mindful Pause Exercise.

When your mind runs itself in a corner with anxiety and emotions become too overwhelming to process, all you need is a minute to take a break and re-group.

1) Hit Pause And Breathe.
In your mind’s eye, envision that Pause button, like on a remote control. Learn to use it often when you feel the familiar sense of anxiety to overtake you – it’ll become like a signal for your mind to pause and breathe. Close your eyes and start even deep breaths without forcing it much in or out, let it all flow naturally.

2) Turn Your Attention Toward The Body.
As you breathe in and out, observe all the physical sensations you may experience: warmth, coolness, tightness, touch of your clothes, etc. There is no need to evaluate how these sensations make you feel, good or bad; they just are, observe the presence of them but not their quality.

3) Turn Your Attention Toward Emotions.
In the same manner, observe all the feelings that arise during those moments without judging them and pay a special attention how those emotions manifest themselves in your body. Thus, fear may feel like a hollow twist in your solar plexus area, worry may become tightness in your chest or throat, stress may be pressure in your legs to get up and run, or anger may feel like a hot air on your face. Be an observer and not a judge; allow all of it to exist without a need to dissolve anything. Become a wave rider not a wave fighter – when you in an ocean and brace yourself for an impact of each coming wave, you get knocked down to the ground, but, if you learn to dive into each wave and flow with its natural motion, you’ll eventually climb on top of the surface.

4) Return To Breath Flow
Bring your attention back to your breath and take a notice how it flows throughout your body. Chances are most of the uncomfortable emotions your felt prior have settled down and you feel more composed and ready to resume your daily activities.

This simple exercise could become your second nature if you practice it often enough to cultivate the habit. And, it may teach you that uncertainty sometimes exists for a reason as not all answers are meant to be found right away and certain outcomes need time to develop to bring the most beneficial results.

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