For those of us who practice yoga, the concept of stopping so that we can start is a familiar one. We climb into child’s pose, a comfortable seated position or even a savasana to pause and become aware of our breath. It’s a moment to let go of life’s chaos — the traffic, overflowing inbox, bottomless laundry hamper…
What if we took that same moment before something like our next meeting or first date? What if we gave ourselves a full minute of stillness and quiet to create an empty canvas, making space for ideas, information and possibility, instead of dragging old clutter, assumptions and judgment into the mix? A pause where we could choose not to invite our loaded, explosive agenda into the boardroom — or a beat just long enough to dismiss disappointing hook-ups-gone-wrong so we can wander into something new, unburdened.
Imagine getting out in front of your worry about awkward introductory date silence by consciously creating it. I’m not suggesting you insist the two of you sit in Zazen meditation the moment you meet. For the most part, that would probably guarantee you no date #2. A simple “Let’s hold that thought for a moment and take a look at the menu,” can act as a covert pre-meal child’s pose. Poof! Just like that there’s proof that everyone’s OK, even when no one is speaking. We find ourselves making room for ease instead of self-imposed drama.
A contemplative pause before entering an important meeting or interview can have a similar effect. Taking a moment to get clear and present instead of rushing in will calm our nerves and drop us into our focus.
Try this before your next scheduled event. It’s super simple, but that’s what makes it accessible enough for us to use it and for it to work. Set the alarm on your phone for one full minute, close your eyes and breathe deeply. Observe a peaceful internal shift before the shift hits the fan… If you're feeling radically courageous, you could ask the entire meeting take that full minute of silence with you before getting started. What might happen if everyone felt comfortable allowing enough space between thoughts and words for inspired freedom?
Just think of what could we start if we allowed ourselves to stop.