“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” ~Martin Luther King, Jr. I spent my entire life, it seems, running from one accomplishment to the next, chasing dream after dream and always having my eye on the prize. From college to a job that would help me get into graduate school, then from graduate school to a job that would lead me to my license, it was one career step after another. Until I burned out, of course. And put a big fat pause on everything. Maybe this tenacity and certainty about my path was due to the timing of young adulthood, or perhaps just the mentality of achievement and pursuit, but in any case, life has recently handed me a great lesson in the art of patience and pause.
Initially, when I realized that I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do with my life next, I was surrounded by an incredible amount of anxiety about the unknown.
This was a completely new feeling and experience for someone like myself who always knew exactly what she wanted. It is only natural, too, when encountering a sensation unbeknownst to us that we also begin to face and sit with our greatest fears.
Sometimes, though, life does not flow with seamless transition between one step and the next—or at least we may not see the purpose of that transition at that particular moment. It may take several months, or even years, before we can look back and see how that awkward period served our greater path.
For me, in a time of uncertainty and need, I felt called to do nothing more than sit. In silence. And in stillness.
I was called, like a strong pull, to find a cushion and begin meditating, after I had abandoned and forgotten about the practice many years before. And in the process, meditation, and the practice of mindfulness, brought me back to the present moment—the only place I could be in the state of unknown about the future.
The practice reminded me to embrace and find grace in each step along the way of our path, rather than racing over the cobblestones to reach the finish line.
Sometimes it is only when we pause that we can hear our own voice, deep down beneath the distractions and busyness of our modern lives, calling us where to go next.
A pause, like in the practice of meditation, is a space in which to transition from one activity to the next. Whether it’s the transition from our work to home life, or the transition of a career change or significant life event, creating a patient space for mindfulness and our voice to arise can lead us places we would have never imagined.
It not only shifts our mood, but it also creates an internal awareness about our intrinsic value system, desires, and views.
When I actually took a pause to reflect and take a look back at my life thus far, not only did fear and the unknown arise about what was to come next, but natural, intuitive answers and passions began to also unfold.
For example, I began writing, working on a website, and diving back into my creative callings. It was like a piece of my heart and soul that had been shadowed for a long period was being fed and gaining strength once again.
Now, on this journey of the unknown, I’m falling into my intuitive voice more and more often and finding trust in my own strength to find the right way. For when we are unsure of what lies ahead, the greatest gift we can give ourselves on the path is listening to our own deep desires and trusting that the earth, and your own self, will hold you along the way.
This practice intensifies your own inner strength and resiliency and makes challenging times something to overcome rather than avoid in the future.
Thanks to this pause, now I recognize fear. I can actually feel it in my whole body when it arises. But, rather than run away from it, I pause, take a deep breath, glance at fear, nod at it, and then gently let it fall out of the way.
So then rather than approaching the unknown with fear-based behavior, I approach it with calm, courage, and self-awareness.
So, if you find yourself at an impasse, unsure of what direction to take next, maybe just stop. Rather than forging ahead, try taking a pause. Close your eyes, release your breath, and fall into stillness for just a moment.
Notice your mood, your thoughts and feelings, and notice the mood of the environment that surrounds you.
Just be the observer for once rather than the doer. Then, when you feel like your spirit is full once again, take a deep breath, and move on forward. I guarantee you that whatever path you chose will be the right one.
JoAnn is an aspiring writer, mindfulness philosopher, and social impact lover. She enjoys sitting in coffee shops, having heartfelt conversations with strangers, and deepening her connections with close friends and family. This post was republished with permission from tinybuddha.com. You can find the original post here.