"Press Pause" - the Gifts of Lull
We know why we don’t take breaks often enough. Lull is often our least-courted and least-counted Muse among many. And she’s the first I’m spending time with in this series for good reason. Your long term creative health depends upon understanding how Lull is part of your cycle and what the benefits are.
Taking a break attunes us to more natural and sustainable cycles. Everything in the natural world pauses. I’m writing this in November in the Northern hemisphere. The leaves have fallen. Animals are scurrying around getting ready for hibernation. Fields have been harvested and now lie fallow and at rest. We’re no different. We have our own seasons and rhythms and “rest” is one of them.
When we pause, we honor our own humanity, our animal nature, our soft vulnerable living breathing selves. It’s an act of self-kindness to rest.
It’s also a part of a natural creative cycle in a second way. There’s a reason so many writers have couches not far from their writing desks. Taking a cat nap allows creatives to integrate big ideas, to access different brain waves. It’s not uncommon for me to feel suddenly sleepy when I’ve had a sudden breakthrough in my thinking. Taking a break—even a brief sleep—allows me to pause and let that big idea, whatever it is, sift and sort itself out without my conscious mind overthinking and getting in the way.
Pausing mid-process also allows for a more non-linear experience. Rather than plugging stolidly along, taking time to open to questions, to stillness, to the possibility of tangent, digression and swerve can set us on a completely different course. Perhaps a better one. Certainly one we would not have arrived at—or arrived at so quickly—without that break.
Finally, Lull helps us grow our creative endurance by stretching out the phase we’re in, whatever it is. Fallow period? Have patience it shall pass. Going at a good clip? Rest, sleep, allow for new inspiration.
Some of us know what happens if you don’t take enough time for pausing…sooner or later, you’ll end up in the arid stretches of rote repetition, too dried up to come up with new ideas. Everything numbs out, the work loses its sparkle. You begin to repeat yourself. And no one wants that to happen.
In pausing, whether for five minutes or five months, we allow space for association, for question, for intuition and deeper wisdoms to emerge. Pause is necessary if we are going to invite delight to the table. And when would we not want that?