I recently finished this book called The Power of Pause, by Terry Hershey. I picked it up at the library one day when I took my daughter in to get some books for summer reading. I wasn't looking for anything myself, as I seem to have a continual pile of unfinished reading material at my bedside. Nonetheless, while I was browsing, this book title caught my eye. In seeing it, I was immediately reminded of a particular teaching one of my teachers/mentors had shared with me: "The Power of the Pause".
The "Pause" she refers to relates to allowing space and time before taking any action- whether it be a response to a request, a decision to be made, or steps taken toward a desired outcome. In taking "pause", we give space and time for consultation of our own intuition and higher wisdom. This helps us to take "right action" on a more regular basis. "Right action" is action that is supportive of our Highest Good. This helps us to stay in alignment with our higher purpose in life. But I digress...
In Terry's book, the "pause" he refers to relates more to slowing down the pace of our lives and creating space for "being" instead of "doing". The "pause" is an invitation to rest, renew, refill. One of the chapters was about the Shadow. The "Shadow" is simply the part(s) of ourselves that we tend to hide or turn away from. We do this because thinking about it or facing it makes us feel uncomfortable, ashamed, embarrassed, fearful, or angry. We judge our Shadow and we'd rather it just went away so we could forget about it and pretend it didn't exist. The "Shadow" part(s) could be a particular behavior or habit, an event or experience, or thoughts and feelings.
At the end of this chapter, Terry suggests taking some time to sit under the shade of a tree to consider our Shadow(s). To spend time with it. And then ask yourself, "What has my Shadow given me? What blessings? What desired outcomes? What has this part of my Shadow taught me in life?"
When I PAUSED to consider my own Shadow, my struggle with anxiety was the first thing that came to my mind. It is the side of myself that I have allowed very few people to see. It is messy, dark, and difficult. It is the part of me that has been the most difficult to accept. To accept that I have a problem that often feels too big for me, a problem with my mental health, a problem that no one can physically see so others may question its significance or even its validity. My struggle with anxiety has created alienation and isolation from others. I compared myself. I battled with it incessantly, determined to win the war. I wracked my already-stressed-out brain for answers in a state where answers are nowhere to be found.
All of this is what made me so very unaccepting of my anxiety. I despised it. It gave me nothing but pain and I wanted to be rid of it. Little did I know that in denying this "Shadow" side of me, I was feeding it. I was giving strength and power to that which imprisoned me.
And so, as I paused to consider the anxiety in the shadows, it suddenly dawned on me that my anxiety problem was in fact one of the greatest gifts of my life. In that moment, under the shade of the tree, I saw the blessing that it had become. But how can this be?
Because my struggle with anxiety sent me on a long quest in the search for solutions to my problem. It prompted me to work with therapists and counsellors, where I learned so much about myself. I visited healers and delved deeper into learning about the energy body and vibrational healing. I worked with naturopaths, biochemists, and Ayurvedic practitioners to adjust my diet and lifestyle practices. My spiritual life opened and deepened as I learned to trust in the Divine. Every time I was anxious (which was A LOT) I had an opportunity to try new health, wellness, and lifestyle habits to see what helped me. And what made me feel the same or worse. The wisdom and insight I have gained has been exponentially greater due to having an anxiety disorder. I became my own detective, my own advocate, my own friend and coach.
To be sure, I have had a lot of help along the road to healing. But ultimately, the habits, practices, and changes- the WORK- all of this was up to me if I was to heal. And heal I did.
I am still learning. And that's ok with me. Because now I see the true gift of anxiety. I see all that it has taught me and given to me. And so when anxiety comes, I now accept and embrace it. "Hey there, old friend," I say, "what are you here to teach me right now?". Anxiety has become an awareness tool that I can use to tell me where there is imbalance in my life and what I need at any given time. This is freeing me from what for so long felt like a prison.
So thanks Terry, for writing a little gem of a book.
And I am reminded of something my first spiritual teacher once said:
"Your greatest suffering can be your greatest teacher".
And so it is.
I am a wellness educator and trainer who is passionate about helping others to look, feel, and be their best in body, mind, and heart. Thanks for visiting my blog!