By Jill S. Neukam MS, LAc
“I felt grateful for the reminder of the sacred. I found myself feeling a little weight … that invited a pause and a vague remembering of something bigger. I liked this feeling. It seemed to feed part of myself. I felt gently nourished and befriended.” -Unknown
I recently had the pleasure of taking a trip to the Middle East that included spending some time in two interesting cities.
Istanbul was the first stop. While the city is full of many interesting sites, I found myself being most moved by the sounds. The call to prayer is a regular occurrence when Muslim criers at mosques sing to summon followers to prayer.
Numerous times per day this evocative and calming sound bellows through the air. I found myself paused by this rhythmic gift and grateful for the invitation of contemplation or silent prayer that so naturally seemed to follow.
Jerusalem was my second stop. This city has been on my “bucket list.” Commonly coined as part of “the holy land,” the city is filled with history and sacred sights of numerous world religions, such as Christianity, Judaism and Islam. I had always felt drawn to experience this place and see if I would feel any significant connection.
Here, too, I was struck by the opportunity for prayer in everyday life. On a simple stroll through the old city, I repeatedly crossed paths with groups of “pilgrims,” praying, singing, and worshiping quietly. I couldn’t help but be moved by this public act of devotion. There was a grace that seemed present.
Upon my return, I found myself reflecting on my experiences and noticed that I missed those opportunities for pause in my daily life.
We hear a lot about the benefits of the practice of meditation, mindfulness exercises, gratitude lists, and creating prayer and contemplation opportunities, no matter what spiritual beliefs we hold.
One way that I find a pause is through a regular meditation practice that is focused on my breath. I like to do this for a half hour, but even 10 minutes goes a long way. I like focusing on breath because it is always there. This means that even at a stoplight, I can take a minute and notice my breath. I find it an interesting experience, sometimes difficult, sometimes wonderful.
Now I would love to hear from you. How do you find a moment of pause in your day? Please share in the comments section below.
Jill S. Neukam, MS, is a Licensed Acupuncturist and yoga instructor at the Penny George Institute for Health and Healing – Unity in Fridley, Minn. Jill comes from a diverse wellness background. She has worked in the complimentary care field for more then 15 years.