The other half of creation is the pause: a momentary but necessary stillness that grants your outward efforts staying power.

Creation, and stillness.

Exertion, and rest.

Expression, and turning in.

Loudness, and quiet.

Summer, and winter.

Day, and night.

Life, and death.

The power of the pause — whether only the mental-emotional essence of stillness, or a literal act of “turning in” — allows creation, exertion and expression to become sustainable over the long-term.

As in nature, it is in life: every essence of alpha, solar, yang, external or “hard” outward expression is destined to be met by its natural opposite. The opposite is not conflicting or an antithesis so much as it is complementary. In nature, polar opposites complete one another. Night does not battle the day, but the ebb and flow are accompanying pieces to one singular wholeness.

Every element or aspect of your life likely mimics this same pattern.

I know. You’ve heard this preached a million times over before.

It’s the type of simple, self-explanatory “duh” knowledge that gets preached as if it were prophetic wisdom gifted by God to Moses upon a mountaintop. In reality, it’s a simple reflection of fact — what we see and experience before us, every single day of our lives.

The reason I wish to open up this discussion on complementary forces in nature (and life itself) is that when we expedite personal cycles of creation and stillness, we discover a means of momentous growth that propels more of what we want and less of what we don’t want.

What I’ve learned is that when you “expedite” these miniature cycles of creation and stillness (or any similar cycle of outward yang and inward yin), you aren’t just mimicking a pattern of nature but suddenly find yourself in the throes of a momentous force of growth that gets you going in the direction you want to be heading.

It’s a lesson from that yoga mat that’s become more and more of a point of focus for me over the last months — and has complemented my nature exploration into creation and stillness in the previous year.

In your yoga, you experience one large expansion and one subsequent regression: an outward exertion intended to open the heart, hips, side-waist, hamstrings or shoulders, which eventually melts into a slowing and regression into total stillness.

And, within that larger practice, every motion and movement contains a hundred little cycles of growth and regression: the expansion and collapse of movements; the filling and emptying of the breath; shifts and pivots, risings and fallings.

In one hour of practice, you experience dozens upon dozens of these miniature cycles. Some are simultaneous and complementary (as with breath and corresponding motion), others are opposites (as with poses and counter-poses) that bring a cycle to completeness.

I believe that when you become more and more aware of these simple cycles of growth and regression (expansion and pausing, expression and turning in), you discover what you require on a core, spiritual level to continually endeavor and experience what you want to experience in life — as well as what you want leave behind that you can do without.

The effect is that you become more and more aware of what you need, and can respond accordingly through your actions and decisions.

In the last two months, I’ve been hitting the yoga mat around three or four times a week. I feel great. But the physical exertion is starting to catch up with me. I know I need to take a pause. I know I need to turn in.

With a bit of rest and recuperation, I’ll feel stronger in a few days and can resume my deepening practice.

And throughout January, I worked and created at a feverish pace. We recruited 26 new writers into the Literati; I published new essays to 2 to 3 times per week. I expanded outreach in a series of great interviews and podcasts (which most recently includes an amazing feature in Psychology Today yesterday!).

Meanwhile, I created and published new Literati content throughout the month, hosted writing workshops and interviews, and held dozens of calls with members every week.

With January closed, I feel, simply, a bit stretched, over-extended and maybe even overexposed. I know I need to pull it in a bit. I know I need to turn in.

And the pause is as simple as taking a small bit of time that is dedicated to space.


Not forcing, but allowing.

It’s a matter of honoring needs more than it is throwing the breaks on everything and disappearing without a trace.

I believe that when you embrace this cycle, this flow, this continual process taught to us by nature, you find a momentous force that:

  • will inspire new growth while derailing any feelings of stagnancy and staleness
  • propel new learning on what you love while dawning self-awareness
  • inspires more numerous and deeper personal connections to other human beings (ie, get away from the work so that you can become a normal social human being)
  • help you “return to your roots” which helps you naturally find clarity in your most important goals and dreams
  • helps you avoid burnout, freak-outs, crises… which is a pretty good thing.

Do you notice natural ebb and flow cycles of your own creations, practices or expressions?

How do you make the most of them?

What effects or impacts have you felt as a result?


Flickr photo credit: formulapuff