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In Praise of the Pause

In our busy, plugged in world, full of complexity and need we are at risk of becoming over stimulated and over whelmed. Is there a place then for slowing down, unplugging so as to reflect, to simply be ?

The great cellist Yo Yo Ma, in a reflection on music, speaks of the importance of 'the pause'. He points out that without a pause between notes, there would be no room for a breath, no room to separate one musical note from another. Without a pause there would simply be chaos and dissonance. In a recent interview with Krista Tippett we hear the musicians reflection on the pause and what happens between the notes.

Yo Yo Ma says: "To quote Carl Sagan, 'There are billions and billions of stars out there,' which stirs the imagination of a young child. You look at the sky and you start wondering: where are we? How do we fit into this vast universe? And to Pablo Casals saying that within the notes that he plays, he’s looking for infinite variety to Isaac Stern saying, the music happens between the notes. OK, well what then do you mean when you say music happens between the notes? Well, how do you get from A to B? Is it a smooth transfer; it’s automatic, it feels easy, you glide into the next note? Or do you have to physically or mentally or effortfully reach to go from one note to another? Could the next note be part of the first note? Or could the next note be a different universe? Have you just crossed into some amazing boundary and suddenly the second note is a revelation?"

For Yo Yo Ma, 'the pause' is essential for the flow and rhythm and integrity of the music. Imagine the implications for this truth in how we may choose to live. In your life what do you do and where do you go 'to pause'? What do you do and where do you go so that your life is more than a compilation of tasks, plans, worries and schemes? What do you do and where do you go to breathe, so that your life becomes music? › watch

Each day comes with an invitation to be present, to pause, to think, feel and reflect. As the astronomer and mystic Carl Sagan reminds us 'there are billions and billions of stars' waiting with their ancient light to stir our imagination and grace us with awe.

All we need do is find ways to pause. What does a pause look like for you? In the early morning I pause (with a hot cup of coffee) to look over our garden. I pause between strokes as I kayak, allowing myself to glide over the water, creating emotional and cognitive space to notice what's going on within and around me.

As with music, the pause becomes a bridge from one note to the next. A bridge from the head to the heart. A place to seek, notice and give thanks for the harmony that is always waiting to be found.

Thomas Keating the Trappist monk and mystic reminds us that taking time to pause, with intention and regularity, becomes a doorway into another realm. Into a place of depth, mystery and grace. A place that reminds us that we are not alone, not forgotten. A place where we can hear the music so as to learn to dance in rhythm, with that which is eternal.

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