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The Power of Personal Pauses

Updated: Jun 12, 2020

What are you experiencing right now?

Two young women on swings talking
How are you? What have you been doing?

We’re social creatures. We gather in twos or threes or hundreds, in real places or online, and ask each other endless questions:

· How are you? · What have you been doing? · What are your plans? · Why do you feel that way?

But we seldom ask ourselves the same questions.

In the online Mindful Living Summit, Dr. Jeremy Hunter gave a talk titled Mindful Leadership: Live and Work with Purpose. Dr. Hunter is the founding director of Executive Mind Leadership Institute and associate professor of practice at the Peter F. Drucker Graduate School of Management. In other words, he knows what he’s talking about.

A question he asks his students is:

What are you experiencing right now?

The people in his lecture room want to transform the way businesses operate. They want to create ethical organisations. They want to change the world.

But he asks them: What are you experiencing right now?

The point of this question is to bring them to a state of present-time self-awareness. If someone’s current state of mind includes emotions like anger, frustration or regret, then they’re not able to do grand things for other people. What they do will be tainted. It will lack purity of purpose. I suppose the point behind the question is: Fix yourself, then fix the world.

Another question he asks is:

What’s important to you right now?

Maybe it’s time you took yourself to a café, or sat outside, and asked yourself these two very good questions.

What am I experiencing right now?

When you ask someone a question, there’s usually a pause before they answer, especially if you’ve asked it with sincerity.

So when you ask yourself a question, ask it sincerely, and settle into that pause.

The pause allows you to tune in to your deeper well, where meaningful, honest answers dwell.

I sit at the kitchen table and ask myself the two questions.

What am I experiencing right now?

Pain. Pain in my rib, which was cracked climbing a six-foot brick wall to break into a house to which I had no key.

What’s important to me right now?

Ahh. A long pause. What surfaces? Being peaceful.

These are my answers. What are yours?

Your answers may express more pain and darkness than mine. For example, you may be experiencing intense loneliness, and what is important to you (perhaps contact with other people) may seem unattainable.

But sitting quietly with your questions and answers is the important first step.

And you’ll be shown the way forward because you’ve taken the time to listen to yourself.

Lasting answers come from within.

Living with mindfulness

What makes these questions so powerful is their emphasis on right now.

These questions aren’t about yesterday or next year. They’re about now.

And that’s all we’ve got to work with.

With love, Marlane

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