Learning to Pause: How to Practice Grounding Instead of Giving Into Our Emotions

By Priyanka Hardikar
Feature Image: Delmaine Donson

When I was feeling overwhelmed by emotion, someone I love reminded me: “You always have the ability to pause. Anytime. No explanations. For as long as you need,” and there was something so comforting about that – knowing that I could completely release myself of all obligation, all overthinking, for this period of time.

Learning to rest our mind as much as we rest our body can be challenging. When we overexert ourselves physically, our bodies collapse – and we literally cannot get up. Our bodies tell us: ‘That’s enough. You need to rest,’ in a way that is non-negotiable. But when our thoughts are spiraling and we are stuck in rumination, there isn’t an automatic ‘off’ or ‘pause’ button that gets triggered. If anything, the longer you have had obsessive thoughts, the easier it is to continue in that cycle. This means that you have to train your mind to know when to pause, to recognize when to give yourself the space and time to heal and recover.

Yesterday, when I am sick, I know that the only thing that can help me feel better is sleep. But my thoughts are taking over and they are preventing me from having a restful sleep. There is so much work you need to complete, my mind says. So, I tell myself: “Give your mind a break for an hour,” and I listen to a sleep meditation to calm an overactive mind. For me, repeating this phrase works. Find what phrase works for you and repeat it to yourself when your thoughts or emotions feel out of your control, when they are disturbing your peace or sleep.

Thoughts are just thoughts. We never have to be afraid of them or judge them. Often, we feel like our thoughts and emotions have the power to consume us, but they don’t. I have learned that when it all feels like too much in my head, I can press pause. I can put all of it on hold – the to-do list that feels urgent but isn’t, the decisions that can actually wait, the panic that would subside if I just reminded myself that nothing bad has happened, nothing I can’t handle. When we choose to give our minds a break – for even five minutes – something magical occurs. It is like a reset to our minds –  the equivalent of one of those green smoothies for our health or a face cleanser for our skin. It allows us to return to the world calmer and more composed, more capable of facing ourselves and our emotions.

On the dark days, it feels like you are in a brain fog and nothing – no matter what you do –  can help you step out of it. Better days are coming, my love. This is just a mood, a dark one, and it will pass, as it always has in the past. All you have to do is let the darkness dissolve in the space it first appeared. You don’t need to attach yourself to the darkness or get angry at it. You don’t have to get consumed in it. Dance in the darkness, as if it’s a guest you’ll never see again. Make friends with your demons and they lose the power to haunt you.

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