Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Power of Pause

Recently I encountered a situation with a friend that I could tell almost immediately involved an archetype of his I know well. I have run against this personality before and have learned that it is single minded in its focus, determined to have its way and unreasonable. We had planned a weekend of yard work, but when I saw snow falling from the sky with temperatures in the 20s, I felt sure those plans would be altered. My friend in his archetypal state saw it differently. This is what he planned to do, was set to do and was going to do regardless of the weather. My usual response when faced with this particular archetype is to try to reason with my friend, present objections and get him to see that he is wrong. I in turn then become angry and defensive as I find I cannot sway him. This is how most of us humans usually react in our mechanical ways. This time however I truly understood the value of the Cortothalamic Pause.

I felt myself go very calm and immediately shut my mouth. I just sat there and watched as my friend argued his case that yard work is what we planned and yard work is what he must now do. When he finally wound down and ran out of words, I sat quietly for a few seconds and then was able to calmly state that I would not be doing yard work in a snow storm in 20 degree weather and that I hoped he would reconsider his plan, but if not then I understood that we each have to choose for ourselves what we thinks is best. I was then able to walk away with no anger, no guilt and no judgment.

Cortothalamic. The second part of this word comes from thalamus which is part of the forebrain. The thalamus deals with sensory and motor functions. Responses coming from a feeling level are usually immediate or mechanical reactions. Neurons take the sensory information and send it to the cortex. Cortex is where the first part of the word comes from. The cerebrum or cortex is the largest part of the brain and deals with higher functions such as reasoning and conscious thinking. The Cortothalamic Pause creates a bridge between these two levels allowing us to move from reaction to reason. At the thalamic level you can check your reaction to see how you feel about a situation or interaction, but then take that information to the cortex level to reason out the best response.

This of course is not something I just instinctively knew to do. It has taken a lot of training and practice for it to become natural. The Cortothalamic Pause is a way of stretching time, which is very useful in shamanic practice for healing, research and time travel. Once you become proficient at using "The Pause", you actually feel separated from physical time. So how do you go about learning this useful tool?

1. Practice several times a day starting with small things that are not something you have a passion for. Don't start with something you know is a pet peeve or "touchy" subject for you.

2. When someone asks you a question or asks you to do something – STOP. Do not immediately respond. Clamp your mouth shut and calm everything inside you as much as you can. This part takes practice too.

3. Wait 2-3 seconds and don't let your mind race ahead thinking of all the things you could say in response. Just absorb the question and stay quiet.

4. Take a deep breath and now respond to the question.

You will be surprised at how different your response is after giving yourself the time for both the cortex and thalamus to absorb the information. The Power is in the Pause.

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