Pause Points

These are moments where you can take a breath and take stock of your situation. In games, these are built into the experience - timeouts, quarter breaks, halftime, weather delays. Pause points exist in daily life, but it takes work to identify ones that are meaningful to you.

Recently, I rediscovered the daily joy of washing my hands under warm water. Wait, that is not quite accurate.

I discovered the joy of paying attention to every sensation I experienced from the warm water cascading from a gleaming faucet; making contact with my hands and wrists and relaxing away tension.

There are other pause points I try to be aware of during the course of my day:

  • Holding my hot cup of coffee in the morning.

  • Brushing my teeth.

  • When I park my car; just before I get out of it.

  • My 10AM tea break.

  • Waiting for the water to boil before I make ravioli.

  • Putting on my warm slippers before bed.

Yesterday, I walked to Red Emma’s, one of my favorite coffee spots in Baltimore. It opens at 10am, and I arrived early to a locked front door. It took some willpower to resist pulling my phone out of my pocket. My mind wanted something to look at, but I did not want to be distracted. I wanted to be present.

So I looked around.

For ten minutes.

Really, that’s all I did.

I don’t know what this is, but I like it.

I don’t know what this is, but I like it.

I looked at the different levels of the parking deck across Preston Street. I examined Pearlstone Park across Cathedral street, and saw a guy walking an adorable beagle.

I watched one taxi driver stop next to another, realized the other driver was a friend of his, and they both excitedly chatted with each other in their native language before driving away.

Then I read the advertisements adoring the outside of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, before hearing an employee unlock the door; bringing my pause point to a close.

In the parlance of mental health and wellness, this is described as “mindfulness”. I always liked that term, but I have found that it turns some people off from the idea as soon as they hear it.

Mindfulness is paying attention. That’s it.

Pick something you want to pay attention to, and focus your senses on whatever captivates you.

You might be like me, and find it easier to pay attention to your immediate surroundings. Or you might enjoy the ecstasy of stepping under hot water in your shower first thing in the morning. Maybe you really like playing Candy Crush, or creating a new Spotify playlist.

The only rule is to pay attention to what you are doing in the moment. I invite you to find pause points in your daily life, and to experience the contentment in being where you are.