It can be easy to forget how necessary intentional pauses are for our health, in every way from the psychological to the physical. It is known for instance how wonderful fasting is for the body, where the digestive system gets to rest and our energies are allowed to channel themselves exclusively throughout the nervous and immune systems. They are able to breathe and repair, replenish and rejuvenate a man’s inner ecosystem. The price paid is to intentionally suffer the sensation of hunger, the pangs which the nerves along the stomach wall signal their alarm as the stomach fails to receive its accustomed portions of nourishment.
Yet due to a funny trick that nature plays on the modern man, it is no longer simply a question of hunger but also one of appetite, interlinked very closely to our psychological desires of sensual satisfaction. Our complicated psychology has somehow interwoven itself with all of the flavours afforded by modern cuisine and hunger becomes similarly complicated by the addictions of an artificial appetite. So too is our psychology, in and of itself, addicted to patterns and habits which are continually fed when we indulge in how we have become accustomed to behave.
Perhaps we think in certain ways, day dreaming and fantasizing about ideas which have been with us for countless years. Or maybe a man finds talking in a certain tone, rate and posture pleasurable as he tries to indirectly convince another of his need to be appreciated. Every individual is plagued with a diet of psychological and physical cravings which beg to be fed at every opportunity that the day offers. Many moments are lost in the wake of a storm which never ends, where men and women believe their identity consists in ensuring they be and act in certain ways so that they are acknowledged as deserving credit, respect and luxury. This is, in fact, a caricature reality which stems from a survival-based need to be accepted amongst the crowd and mob of modern life.
The intentional pause of fasting allows the body to breathe and rest. It is the same with one’s mind, as it allows a man to let his attention disengage from its constant need of attaching to old patterns and let itself relax and breathe into a state which lies in the present moment. It is obviously not an easy task to fast or to stop one’s mind from bringing forth the same reactions of behaviour. It requires an extra special effort and for that choice to endure we must be intent on allowing ourselves to truly understand what it is we are doing, and why. Health is when there is balance; where the inflow and outflow are in harmony. In these days of hyperactive society, our psychology races at a pace which kilters our balance into disarray.
An intentional pause can create an atmosphere of awkwardness when practiced amongst people one knows. It might require someone who talks too much or too quickly to change their behaviour in order to change a habit and let oneself be aware of what is actually happening in that moment. As people known to you are accustomed to your typical behaviour, there may be questions as to what is going on and why the change has come about. So it is better at first to practice in moments with relative or complete strangers, where a pause or change in your behaviour can be less noticeable and provide you with the space to act in a more relaxed and restful way. Everything depends on practice, as a new pattern such as intentional pausing requires the same repetition which originally created the behaviours that you are now trying to offset.