REFLECTION: St James Independent, a boys’ school in London, starts each day with a formalized Pause. All 300 of the students gather in assembly to sit in silence, calm down and settle in for the day ahead. Now this is something I’d pay to see: 300 young boys sitting still for ten minutes – no talking, no fidgeting!
That’s not the only point of pause in the St James school day. Each class begins and ends with 30 seconds of silence – a chance for students to clear their minds and prepare for what comes next.
The headmaster of the school positions the practice as one of creating an oasis for learning and as an antidote to our ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) way of being in the world – continuously plugged in and responding to outside stimulation.
ACTION: What kind of practices have you already incorporated or could you start using more regularly to settle down and settle in for the everyday experiences of your life? It doesn’t have to be complicated.
* Sit down at your desk and sit back in your chair with eyes closed for a minute before diving in to your email, checking your to do list, or tackling the next task.
* Take a deep breath before answering the phone.
* Start a meeting with 30 seconds of silence. Give attendees a chance to shake off outside concerns and bring their attention to the room. Bodies may be in chairs, but minds may not be present.
Give these or other ideas a try and see what kind of presence and calm they bring to your day.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “Quiet and stillness in our urban environments is a rare thing. Quiet and stillness in the human mind is even rarer.” – Ronski
RESOURCE OF THE WEEK: For more on the St James approach, and other thoughts on pausing, silence and stillness, check out this BBC article .
READERS WRITE: In response to last week’s message, ‘Hold Lightly-Not Tightly’, Pause reader BT writes: I experience a similar pain when plans evaporate, as I am certainly one of those who creates expectations. The moment I realize that life’s events have led me away from plans, I feel disappointed, confused and angry at whatever I feel is responsible for the derailment.
I started telling myself “no plans – no disappointment”. But that just left me empty, as I lost the pleasure of the anticipation. I soon realized that, although I was not responsible for the change in events, I was responsible for the way I was feeling.
Life sometimes has a slightly different path planned for us; and we just have to realize we must steer in a slightly different direction. Hold Lightly – Not Tightly is now another tool I will use, along with always having a plan B in circumstances that hold a certain level of unpredictability. Thank you for adding to my life’s tool box.