LISTEN to this post on the KevKast!
Whenever you watch an athlete or a sporting event, have you ever payed attention to the pause? There is always a pause. There is a moment just prior to the action, where the athlete coalesces their emotions, their mind, and their body into a single focused purpose. We see it with the gymnast, the diver, the weightlifter, the swimmer, the downhill racer and the list goes on.
This pause exists before a person goes on stage to speak, sing or perform. This pause exists for the mechanic when engaged in a frustrating or challenging task. This pause precedes a worship ceremony, a big hunt, or some big news. Many people begin and end their day with this heavily loaded, purposeful, pause, we call that meditation or contemplation.
All things have both a positive and negative space. There is the positive space of the action that precedes and follows the pause. There is also the negative space of the pause in-between the action. Don’t confuse negative space as nothing. That space is filled with something amazing.
I know it sounds cliché, but the pause is pregnant. In fact this is the perfect description because it is the vital point from which a transcendent moment is possible. Within the negative space of the pause is the possible birth of greatness, achievement, advancement, satisfaction, survival, and countless changes to life as we know it. It is not an overstatement to say that all advancement, achievement and progress grew out of the pause.
We are told that the ancient King Solomon was the wisest person that ever lived. He said; “The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning” (Ecclesiastes 7:4). The Hebrew word ( ֵאֶבל -abal) means to mourn, and Solomon is contrasting the wise heart and the fools heart by saying one is mourning and the other rejoicing. This doesn’t mean wisdom is equated to feeling depressed or downtrodden or sad. Nor is it saying that rejoicing is a bad thing.
Solomon is speaking about being sober minded.
What is sober-mindedness? Wisdom is the skill to use the knowledge we possess. A sober mind is free of clutter and distraction. It isn’t swayed like a mind under the influence of a drug, an emotion, or an ego.
Thus if we would use the most skill, we must free our mind both from and toward something.
An athlete can train and practice all their life and a life’s effort may come down to a single moment or performance. We’ve all seen people choke on the moment and deep down we all know what that is about. It’s a loss of concentration. A loss of focus. Another way of saying this is that they have become distracted by the immensity of the moment.
A loss of focus IS a loss of skill.
It doesn’t matter how good we are in practice if we are not able to bring that sober mindedness with us to the moment when it counts the most. The difference between the Gold medal and any other rank is far less in the preparedness of ones physical abilities and more about the skill of the pause. Why else would events produce such disappointment.
So what are we to do? Many of us are not seeing the progress in our life that we would like to see. Many of us feel like areas of our life have plateaued despite us putting a ton of effort and output into them. I’m convinced the problem is not a performance problem. The problem does not reside in our doing, but in our pausing.
You see, the pause is not about doing. The pause is about being. A sober mind produces well-bing or shalom. Our world is full of millions of life-coaches that are trying to get us to do more so you can be more. Yes, many of us need to get off the couch and actually try something, but there are many who are trying and are still not seeing the fruit of their effort. If that is you, then perhaps your coaching is 180 degrees out of sync. In my approach to coaching I help people learn to pause first. We start with being then move to doing. I believe doing flows from the being, not vice-versa as the world tells us.
We must understand that a pause is spiritual in its nature. It is sobriety with all that is at stake. It is our alignment with the present moment, The Presence. It is a vital aspect of our humanity and we all share it in common. Are we really surprised then that peace, well-being, confidence, execution, and optimal performance actually originate from the deep well of the pause?
I know I talk a lot about spirituality, religion, God and life. I also know that those terms are loaded for many of us. I believe that too often we see religion trying to get people out of their lives and into another life, or some exclusive system of belief. This too is a distraction from the base form of experience that we all have access to and I think it causes people to label themselves or others as unbelievers simply because not everyone subscribes to such exclusive claims of faith.
The pause is found in the deeper parts of all religions, but the pause is not about religion at all. The pause allows each of us access to the deep waters within all of us. Scripture says the fountain of wisdom is a bubbling brook (Prov 18:4) and that deep calls to deep (Psalms 42:7). The deep within us, connects to the Depth with the pause. It receives all comers. It’s pure. It’s unfettered. It’s simply a person finding themselves juxtaposed between the present moment and the eternal moment. It’s where we recognize that the past has brought us to this moment and it has all been purposeful, useful, and instructional. It’s where we look forward in anticipation and action by bringing that sober mind of the present with us as we go.
So it turns out that the pause that we think is beginning point of faith, is also what we discover at the higher levels of religion is actually the ending point of faith as well. In one sense, that is all there really is to faith. If that makes sense to you then you can touch Proximity and you can do it without the scaffolding of a religious system. Your faith is between you and God (Rom 14:22).
May I encourage you to find the pause today. Then acknowledge it and be willing go deeper if the Deep calls you on. All you have to lose is distraction, and all you have to gain is wisdom.