When I teach people about the nervous system, I teach them about the power of the pause, something that was first taught to me by my long-time mentor Ray Castellino, www.castellinotraining.com. The nervous system plays a central role in the speed at which we conduct ourselves. Our ability to pause is our ability to stop and assess and reconsider – to focus inward – to remember ourselves and consider how we want to respond rather than reacting, overriding or just trying to keep up.
The world has been moving too fast for too long, with extreme and sustained consequences for environmental, physical and mental health. Now, because of a real and expanding threat that we can only see when it makes someone sick, we are pausing at every level – family, business, community, city, state, country, world. Plans are changing. Annual events and pastimes that we take for granted are being postponed or cancelled. Schools are closing. Travel is being curtailed. Flights are being cancelled. Engines are being turned off. Our nervous system will be reset at every level from individual to global. We will now face the speed inside ourselves and our relationship to uncertainty, trust and life. Pausing now is vital. It will literally save lives.
We are being asked to change fast, and we are learning that we can. Humans may be creatures of comfort, but we are also built for change. We have learned to adapt our surroundings to us; now we will learn to adapt to the circumstances at hand. The current circumstances require us to meet more than our addictions to speed and distraction. They require us to listen deeply, care for ourselves and others, and stay connected while simultaneously maintaining a safe distance. They cause us to consider the items we touch and who else may have touched them. They cause us to consider our hands.
Our need to distance ourselves from our hands goes unnoticed because it is so common. And it is even more uncommon for people to consider how far Western Culture has travelled in devaluing hands. We pay people more who use their minds than their hands, with the exception of athletes. We see artistic ability and people who’ve honed their craft over decades as a dying breed, forgetting that we ALL used to live this way. Our hands are capable and powerful. We depend on them – and we ignore them. We touch things, each other and ourselves without thinking. Now and for the next weeks and months, we must use thought and care both before and after using our hands.
I hope we will listen collectively to what we learn individually, from our hands to our hearts. I am excited by the evidence we will have of our increased capacity. May what we learn in these coming days and weeks, teach us skills that we will incorporate into approaching the world differently, into caring more about each other and the future. May this pause be a time for the earth to rebuild and heal from the constant pressures of greenhouse gases. May more fuels stay in the ground. May we be able to look back to the clearing skies of this time and know that we collectively changed our habits and it made a noticeable difference. May the power of the pause be felt.
There are challenges now that have not existed in our lifetime. There are possibilities now that have not existed before. As always, those with less will suffer more. Money cannot buy our way out of this one, and we will all have to get by with less. People will struggle in ways that they haven’t before and can’t even imagine yet. Things they’ve taken for granted will vanish. Assurances they thought were air-tight will show leaks. We will become scared of things we never feared before. We will find immense relief in places where we felt no need for gratitude before.
Time be an immense gift in the chaos. More time with family, more meaningful conversations, more creative time, less need to get up by a certain time, our schedules will empty and we will have time to focus on what really matters. These are unprecedented times. It’s too long for those of us alive now to remember the pandemic of 1918. But we know these stories, and all the other triumphs and challenges of humanity in our bones and in our DNA. We carry within us at the cellular and fluid level the substantial energetic field that precedes DNA, the one which we all emerged from; carry within us and will return to. Over and over again, as life goes on. Every moment is precious. Every day is new. Breathe. Give thanks. Be real. Repeat.