The Holy Pause: Spiritual Practices for a Time-Obsessed Culture


  1. We begin by stopping for a moment and breathing. It seems so simply and yet is profoundly challenging. How many of us make time to pause? Breathing helps us to enter fully to the moment. We expand physically, which has an effect on our perspective on things.
  2. On a recent retreat with Brother David Steindl-Rast, he invited us to consider taking a pause as we begin each activity and as we end it. I thought of my yoga practice and how even in the practice of it I can feel rushed, and how things shift when I take three deep breaths at the start and finish of each pose to call myself fully present.
  3. I had some sabbatical time this summer to be away from calendars and email demands. I set up an auto-responder with the subject line, "Holy Pause." I had several people comment how much they appreciated those words as a reminder that they had the choice to take their own holy pause. Give yourself to several small holy pauses during the day and see what you notice. Consider a longer one for a day or more.
  4. Say "no" more often. While being more fully present to my life goes a long way to relieving the anxiety which builds from having too much to do, the more present I am to my life, the more I am able to recognize when adding another commitment would not be healthy for me. Saying no requires that I embrace a healthy sense of humility and knowing that I can't do everything offered to me.

We move so quickly that we forget that there is another deeper layer to reality, one that can only be seen by stopping and arriving here. This is what the mystics write about. We don't need more hours in the day. We need to shift our relationship to those hours. We need to say "no" more often. We need holy pauses. The more we touch the eternal, the more we feel a sense that there is more than enough.

7/26/2011 4:00:00 AM
  • Progressive Christian
  • Seasons of the Soul
  • Christianity
  • Christine Valters Paintner
    About Christine Valters Paintner
    Christine Valters Paintner, Ph.D., is a Benedictine Oblate and the online Abbess ofAbbey of the Arts, a virtual monastery without walls offering online classes in contemplative practice and creative expression and pilgrimages to Ireland, Germany, and Austria. She is the author of eight books on monasticism and creativity including The Artist's Rule: Nurturing Your Creative Soul with Monastic Wisdom (Ave Maria Press) and her forthcoming book The Soul of a Pilgrim: Eight Practices for the Inner Journey (Spring 2015, Ave Maria Press). Christine lives as a monk in the world in Galway, Ireland with her husband of twenty years.
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