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Taking A Break!

» Introduction
Life Coach, TV Personality, and Author, Mark Edgar Stephens inspires you to "Take A Break!" during the month of December. Taking a Break is a necessary factor for a successful, fulfilling, and balanced life.
» Step 1
INSPIRATION: December 2008

Taking A Break!

I’m inspired to take a break. This year I completed many things I have been working on for years --- the publishing of my book, the first performance of my jazz concert, and my backyard being completely demolished and rebuilt. I’ve done well. Now, I sit in front of a fire on the first day of December after a quiet and well-deserved Thanksgiving Holiday.

This November was not the most “laid back” of months. There was the lead up to the presidential election, which I was more involved with than in any other year. There was Proposition 8 here in California, which has made me re-think the true value of human rights and equality to all citizens. There was the delivery of my first hardback proof of my book, “WHO ARE YOU CHOOSING TO BE ?”, which both thrilled me and threw me for a loop (seeing a dream become reality can sometimes do that). There was a week of intense business in New York City, which included the wedding of a dear friend. I am still hearing stories from various clients, friends, and family who are reeling from the economic reality that is currently taking place in this country and in the world. There was a lot going on this month. So, for the Thanksgiving Holiday, I took four days completely off --- no email, no coaching, no active productivity, and no planning. I did not travel or make any plans. I slept late. I watched old movies. I took long walks. I exercised at the beach and stretched my body. I breathed deeply and talked with a few friends and family in other parts of the country. I stayed quiet a great deal of the time. And, today, December arrived.

I awoke this morning with every intention of “getting things rolling” and “making things happen”. However, something inside of me gently (and not so gently) called out for me to ease into the day. Yes, there was work to be done, phone calls to make, clients to see, and documents to be sent. Outside there was a cool nip in the air and the workmen from outside hammered and banged in the distance. A misting of fog was rolling through the canyon and as I sat at my office desk, I felt a tugging inside not to start into business right away. So, instead, I looked out of the window through the branches of the cherry tree toward the hillside rising up in front of my house. I heard a deep breath slide smoothly into my lungs and I felt a release of air pour into the space around me. I could not open my computer at that moment or pick up the phone. I was still. My eyes reached up to the wall just slightly to my right where a placard hangs. It simply reads, “Inspire: /v/ 1. To guide by divine influence. 2. To fill with enlivening or exalting emotion.” Underneath that placard hangs a framed quote by Rainer Maria Rilke, which reads, “To Sing Is To Be.” I smiled at my surroundings and felt my body sink a little more deeply into the chair where I sat. I willingly allowed my eyes to close as a feeling of satisfaction swept over me. The four-day holiday was over, but my mind, body, and spirit was still enjoying the relaxation that had quickly established itself as habit in my life. After a few moments of deep breathing and practicing the art of doing nothing, I was ready to open my computer. My day of business began not with an impetus to “get in there and get things done”, but with a conscious decision to bring a sense of relaxation, satisfaction, and mindfulness into the tasks at hand. It has been a great day.

At this moment, I realize that the Christmas break will be here in three weeks, a time when we are asked to slow down, leave work behind, and be with friends and family. There are only four weeks before the end of the year 2008. There are two opposing feelings inside of me. One is the feeling that I should get even more done in 2008 than I set out to do. After all, I am fairly caught up with the goals I set out for myself to do this year. The other is the feeling that I wish to continue taking a break from economic concerns, production deadlines, thinking about righting social injustices, achieving personal milestones, and business-building activities. A question comes into my mind wondering if there is a way to continue this feeling of being on break, while intending to be productive in my personal and professional life. Then, I look at the fire blazing in front of me. I remember the misty hills that surround me each morning. I think about the placards that remind me about inspiration and being-ness. I smile. I allow my eyes to close and I breathe deeply. For a few moments, I take a real break from my thoughts, my needs, my desires, and my obligations. Amazingly, when I open my eyes, my phone is still working and my computer is still within sight. And, with this sense of calm satisfaction, I write this piece that I call “Inspiration”. Could it be that work, business, and life can be lived at this level? Is it possible? Could it be that “taking a break” is a part of the cycle of life? Could it be that “taking a break” is not only a natural part of a successful life, but also a necessary part?

I’ve never claimed to have all of the answers in life, but I do know how to ask very powerful questions. And, even as I ask the questions above, the answers seem to pour into me much like my breath came rushing into my lungs this morning. Something inside of me knows that “taking a break” is a healthy, natural, and necessary part of my life, not just during the holidays, but also throughout the day, everyday. When I take a break, I in-spire --- “To fill with enlivening and exalting emotion.” When I am “taking a break”, I am breathing deeply and allowing my heart and mind to sing --- “To sing is to be.” And, something deep inside of me knows that December is a reminder not to speed up because the end of the year is approaching, but a time to remember to consistently slow down and take a break. The work will still be waiting for me. The phone calls will still be made. The work on the computer will still get done. But, the intention is to be involved in these activities with inspiration and being-ness. Somehow the work gets done with greater ease, more relaxation, and deeper breathing. There is room in my mind, my body, my spirit, and my schedule for highly productive work and energetic breaks that inspire, enliven, and exalt.

Try taking a break. The next time you experience the feeling of having “so much to do”, stop for a few moments. Look around you for the things that inspire you. Close your eyes. Take a few deep, cleansing breaths. Experiment to see if a few moments of “taking a break” can make your life and your living feel a bit more inspiring. Experiment to see if this inspiration flows into the work at hand. Is it possible that constantly and consistently “taking a break” is not only a natural part of life, but necessary in order to experience a life that is pleasurable, satisfying, and inspiring? Is it possible to complete what must be done in your life in a relaxed, yet powerful way? What would life be like if you took a break on a regular basis? Only you have the answers to these questions. Try it! You can always go back to your old way of doing things. Or, you may find that it is not only possible, it is preferable.

Taking a Break,
December 2008

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