Mind The Gap

It is that time of year again, when we pile more activities, tasks and gatherings into our already busy lives. I often wonder how we manage to fit our holiday season, with all its trimmings, into a long weekend, barely having come to rest before we are off and at another work week. Weeks of preparations and organization help, but at the end of the day, it may mean we haven’t had down time for a month or two.

This can all work as we have replayed this scenario many times. When the schedule calls for more than normal, we know how to kick into action and go until we get done. This is our habitual reaction to life, often done without consciousness or awareness, but rather is easily activated and done on auto pilot without a thought.

This habitual reaction can work when we need it to, but if it becomes our way of life, it may not be the most effective, nor does it help us reach a higher-level goal of living present and stress-free and in wellness. To live stress free, we can’t be in that habitual reaction where we kick into fight, flight or freeze every time life gets more hectic. That only raises havoc in our mind, body and spirit. We want to be living in the moment, slowing things down so we can be present, right here, right now. We want to be giving our mind and body the message that all is well, stay calm.

One way to bring things down a notch and give your mind and body permission to relax into the moment is to bring attention to breath. Notice the breath as you inhale and notice as you exhale. And in that attention to breath, begin to mind the gap. The gap between breaths. Breathe in . . . gap . . . breathe out . . . gap. . . breathe in . . . It is here, in the quiet resting moment between breaths that we can come to rest. We can realize that ultimately our breath speaks to us about how effective we are managing the moment, the day, the month, the year, our lives. Our breath can be our teacher in slowing down, bringing things to a pause, merely by noticing the gap between the breaths. This allows us to be present in our life, right here, right now, in the breath of the moment.

Through minding the gap – that space between moments – we can find stillness, quiet, peace. We can begin to put it on like a finely threaded coat, wearing it and moving through life in a present, calm way. When we practice this, we will eventually begin to understand that we can mind the gap in another critical way. Where we habitually reacted in our stressed way to a hectic time, we can now become aware, pause and mind the gap. When we want to react, we can slow it down, and we can make choices in how we would prefer to respond. This takes awareness and practice. Minding the gap is where we will find the freedom to make our life about choices rather than reactions, which ultimately leads to being more effective and landing where we really want to land. So as you make your way through the next few weeks, mind the gap. Slow things down. Allow your body to be  replenished and enjoy the moments. At the end of the day, you will have lived it fully.

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  • Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker
    Licensed Independent Mental Health Practitioner

  • Janie Pfeifer Watson, LICSW, is the founder and director of Wholeness Healing Center, a mental health practice in Grand Island, Nebraska with remote sites in Broken Bow and Kearney. Her expertise encompasses a broad range of areas, including depression, anxiety, attachment and bonding, coaching, couples work, mindfulness, trauma, and grief. She views therapy as an opportunity to learn more about yourself as you step more into being your authentic self. From her perspective this is part of the spiritual journey; on this journey, she serves as a mirror for her clients as they get to know themselves—and, ultimately, to love themselves.


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