HMC Day 8: the pause

Holiday Meditation Challenge Day 8

Welcome to your second week of being a real meditator!

Today’s post is a brief exploration of what I like to call “the pause.”

One of the most profound benefits of meditation is learning about your particular desires, impulses and urges simply by observing your own mind. In this process, you’ll also become aware of your ability to decide, deliberately, whether/how to take action or wait with regard to a particular impulse.

As Viktor Frankl famously wrote, “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

So much of what comes up in meditation is uncomfortable in one way or another. A feeling or thought we don’t want to have, a physical sensation that’s unpleasant or even painful. In the span of even a 5 or 10 minute meditation, you’ll likely experience an urge to attend to pain, itching, numbness, etc., or feel like you want to judge or banish a difficult thought or emotion.

I challenge you to pause for a moment after noticing the physical or emotional discomfort before you make a change. You can do what you need to do, but discomfort provides an opportunity to practice that pause between awareness and action. Try not to react on autopilot.


Sit for 8 minutes, selecting one of the meditations we’ve talked about over the last several days. Whenever discomfort arises, practice “the pause” before shifting your position or attention. Label the discomfort in an objective way (i.e. “throbbing sensation” or “feeling of sadness”) and then decide whether you need to do anything specific to make it stop, or if it’s possible to tolerate its presence for a while.

**If you missed the introductory post, welcome to the Holiday Meditation Challenge! To receive a summary of each week’s assignments in e-mail form so you can go back to them anytime, click here.