Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Statio for the Fall ...

Now and then it's good to pause
in our pursuit of 
and just be happy.

Guilaume Apollinaire

Hi everyone - Happy almost-Fall!

I took a picture of this sign on a hot, sunny July afternoon at the far end of Kahshe Lake in Northern Ontario. It was nailed to a tree on the bank of a narrow river between two lakes, reminding boaters to  S-L-O-W  D-O-W-N so they wouldn't cause the owner's boat and dock to dance together as they passed.

"Dead Slow, No Wake", could also be a reminder to slow our pace as we begin to multi-task our way through the fall. Taking opportunities to slow down a number of times a day, can help us to stop the automatic flow of life and to pause in the "now". The Benedictine monastic tradition has an age-old spiritual practice known as statio that can help us to do that.

Statio can be thought of as a moment-between-moments, a pause between activities. (You might think of it as a threshold or a mini-transition point between finishing one thing and starting the next, a pause  that offers brief gifts of rest, awareness and possibility.) This place between is a place of slowness, stillness and mindfulness where we can intentionally let go of what came before, pause, and then move fully and mindfully into whatever comes next. We take the time to become fully conscious of what we've just done and what we are about to do rather than moving automatically and thought-lessly on to the next thing.

Christine Valters Paintner, PhD, Benedictine Oblate and online Abbess of Abbey of the Arts,  a virtual monastery based in Galway, Ireland, suggests practicing statio by pausing intentionally at the close of each activity. Every time you change from one activity to another, pause and deepen your breath for five full cycles of breathing. Allow yourself to truly notice and feel the ending of one activity, the pause and the beginning of something new. Try it for yourself over the next 24 hours and notice of how it feels. What was it like to finish? Were you able to welcome and be fully present to what was coming next? Could you rest in the pause?

These tiny windows of awakeness and awareness, experienced many times a day, allow us to become more fully conscious and, as a result, more fully alive. They offer us a space in which to pull together the bits of ourselves that may have been scattered through effort and activity, a moment of integration before beginning again.

May the practice of statio add presence and richness to your life this fall.

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