Have you ever worked on a puzzle and found that the harder you try the more difficult it is to find what you're looking for? I love to do word search puzzles. There's something so satisfying when you're scouring for a word and wallah - there it is! I love the simple act of circling the letters and seeing the fruits of my labor (sometimes I even do a little jig :-))
The funny thing is, I often will find a word after I take a pause and walk away. Inevitably, when I return to the puzzle, I find a word, or two, or three!
In essence, that's what mindfulness practices do. They give us the ability to pause, become present, and then proceed from a calmer, more grounded place.
It is amazing to me how often I will find solutions after my meditation practice. During meditation, it takes a little while for my mind to settle down. I have a very active mind, so I need to dedicate at least 20 minutes each day to work through whatever thoughts are spinning through my brain. It's long enough for me to let go of whatever is in the past, stop worrying about the future, and find some stillness in my mind.
Truth is, all it takes is a few deep breaths to clear your mind and become present. Give it a try. At first, when you look at the word search puzzle above, it all looks like just a bunch of meaningless letters. Now, close your eyes, take 3 deep breaths, and then open your eyes. What words did you find?
Taking a pause will not just help you solve small puzzle games, but it will help you get clear on solving big puzzles in your life that can fill you with fear, doubt, and worry.
So take a pause from whatever you're doing (don't tell your boss!), click the button below and download the puzzle I created above. As you find the mindfulness-themed words, take notice of how each of the words makes you feel. If you get stuck, walk away, and come back to it later.
When you finish the puzzle, consider keeping it close by as a reminder of how your biggest problem at that moment could be only one pause away from a solution.
Author, Phyllis Smith, is the Co-founder and CEO of Live Free Yoga, which provides yoga and mindfulness programs for youth and adults who serve them. She is also the co-creator of Lighter Being, a transformative mindfulness video series to help you find more balance, self-love, and a lighter state of being. Photo by Kathy Tran