The pause between breaths

In yoga and meditation, we are taught to focus on the pause between breaths. Mindful breathing- slow deep breaths, help calm the mind and relax the body. But it is the pause between breaths where transformation happens. In these moments of stillness, we switch off our thoughts and go inward. 

‘Breathe in for four counts, hold your breath for seven, and breathe out for eight,’ Jocelyn our yoga teacher instructs, us as we start the class. I have been practicing patterns of breathing for years both in yoga and meditation. I knew that focusing on my breath helped me to shut out my thoughts and become more present but I did not fully understand what happened in the pause between. It only lasts for a few seconds but in that moment, we are outside of thought – observing. 

Maybe that experience builds with each practice because over time I have come to recognise that sacred place and can take myself there when I need clarity and direction. Some people may call this prayer. Prayer. Meditation. For me, it is about switching off the incessant chatter of my thoughts and creating a stillness in which I can receive wisdom.

I am writing this post today because it feels as though I am experiencing a pause between activities in my life. I have spoken before about our cyclical nature which mirrors that of the seasons. How we need to recognise the natural ebb and flow of our energy and creativity. There is a time to be still: to reflect on what we have achieved, Gather the harvest, Nourish and restore – before starting afresh on new ventures. Sometimes the pause between is of our own making, sometimes it is thrust upon us and we rail against the injustice, other times things just run their natural course.

When we have been super busy and productive with project plans and objectives, daily to-do lists, and lots of interaction on social media, etc, it can feel a bit discombobulating. We may feel lazy. Worry that we have lost our sense of purpose and direction. Or fear that we will lose what we have achieved. It is really hard to ignore those negative thoughts. I am mentally chiding myself for what part of me perceives to be lazy. Fortunately, through meditation – and yes, breathing exercises – I have learnt to hear the negative thoughts and recognise them for what they are.

Gerd Altmann – Pixabay

The novel I completed earlier this year and was about to self-publish is being considered by a literary agent and so I am waiting for a response. A few years ago, before I practiced daily meditation, I would have been incredibly anxious waiting to hear back from an agent following a full manuscript request. This time, my experience is entirely different. The positive comments in the agent’s reply to my submission were enough to satisfy me that I am on the right track. I have had a couple of full MS requests for this novel along with some very positive and encouraging rejections. So, I have choices: if this agent does not offer representation, then I can self-publish again, I can approach other agents, or I can hold back on the publication of this novel and look for representation when I have finished my current WIP. I do not know which path I will take but I have confidence that it will become clear in time.

The podcast and YouTube programme Castaway Books came to an end this week after broadcasting 28 episodes. I loved hosting the show but was ready to try something new. My plan is to start a podcast on the Inner Journey of the Creative, interviewing guests as well as sharing my experience. A transcript of the show will replace this blog. To do this well, I need to reflect on what would make a great show and plan the first season. The impatient part of me is nagging, ‘Get on with it. What’s taking you so long?’ But I know that my ideas need time to develop and I am enjoying considering the possibilities.

Similarly, the weekly tweet-chat that I hosted for a year has changed format and I am now sharing the hosting with other writers. This has released more time for me. I am thinking about hosting a virtual writing retreat for the writing community.

Lots of things are happening but at this stage they are ideas. I know that when the time is right my vision will become a reality but for now, I am experiencing that pause between. Recognising that my energy levels are low, that I need to be kind to myself and create the time and space for ideas to flourish. In the meantime, I am completely immersed in writing my next novel and enjoying the relaxation that this brings.

I think of Autumn and Spring as the pause between breaths– Autumn the end of a long inhale when we are full with the plentitude of summer and Spring when winter has depleted our reserves and we are ready to fill our lungs again with fresh, cool air. So, it is fitting to pause in the autumn to reflect on all that we have achieved and rest without self-judgement so that we can restore and renew. 

Sometimes we need to be still – to pause – to break habits. A circuit breaker. My habit is to be impatient. To rush ahead trying to take control. A blog by Kamina A. Fitzgerald Caution do not go ahead of God was a great reminder for me to be still and wait for that inner wisdom. However long it might take. 

2 thoughts on “The pause between breaths

  1. I practiced 4-7-8 breathing before my driving test, and I passed! Good luck with your query, your next novel, and all of your future ventures. But most of all, enjoy the pause 🙏❤️

    Liked by 2 people

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