Moment of PausePosted: February 17, 2012
Last night I was paging through Sally Kempton’s book Meditation for the Love of It, looking up mantra (of which the sound of Om is one). But what caught my attention instead was a section called “The Space Between the Breaths.” It’s called madhya — the still point between two phases of movement. The pause between your inhale and exhale, or the end of each swing of a pendulum, before it goes back the other way. “All movement,” Kempton writes, “arises out of such a point of stillness. That still point is an open door into the heart of the universe.”
This is a stunningly beautiful concept, I think. There are so many ways to think about it. It’s the beat between your heartbeats. The time right before you wake up or fall asleep. The pause before you answer a question that may change your life. The tipping point between balancing and falling. The split second before you kiss someone. The instant before something good or bad happens. Those times when, in the moment, you are able to step back to look and to think, This is something I’ll never forget.
Kempton quotes Julian of Norwich, a medieval saint: “God is at the midpoint between all things.” Spirit, the Universal, the Divine — however you want to think about it. I imagine there is an incredible amount of energy and power in that space, waiting for us to enter and to claim it.
I couldn’t get over this beautiful excerpt from the Four Quartets, by T.S. Eliot (who’s pretty much God in my book):
At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless;
Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is,
But neither arrest nor movement. And do not call it fixity,
Where past and future are gathered. Neither movement from nor towards.
Neither ascent nor decline. Except for the point, the still point,
There would be no dance, and there is only the dance.
I can only say, there have we been: but I cannot say where.
And I cannot say, how long, for that is to place it in time.