There is great wisdom within the space of a pause. Even in the simplest sentence, a pause conveys an unspoken message that can change or strengthen the meaning of the words.
Do you remember learning to read? First, you could recognize letters. Before you knew it, you could read words, and then sentences. Perhaps one of your first books, like mine, began with the sentence "See Spot run." In learning that Spot was the name of a dog, I had a glimmer of realization that a word could signify more than just an object in the world, that words link the reader to memories, associations, and feelings. For example, one of my classmates was afraid of dogs, so when it was her turn to read aloud, she added a pause: "See Spot. Run!" In that brief pause, her feelings were revealed.
Centuries ago, great poet-saints and sages like Lalla, Hafiz, Rumi, St. Francis of Assisi, and St. Theresa of Avila wrote songs and poems that expressed meaning through pauses, conveying their experiences of transcendence. Their words are like constellations, bright points that link up and form meaning in the open space, inspiring wonder and awe. Think of the Big Dipper and the infinite night sky that allows us to make out the constellation's shape. Truth is expressed in the gaps between words and lines. Reading and memorizing ancient sacred texts and poems is a part of my yoga practice. Eternal wisdom shines through the pure words of the sages directly into our own hearts. Infinite knowing seems to tumble seamlessly into our awareness in the same way it does when we gaze up at the stars. In that moment, clear understanding and vision slip in—a state of clarity that is beyond words—and we are held in and understand the greatness of all.
Explore the pauses and open spaces in your own life and rest your mind there, even if only for a few moments. If you have a meditation practice, try pausing before and after you sit. In your asana practice, observe the brief pauses between each movement. During daily activities like preparing dinner, take a moment to notice the spaces around you.
Or try memorizing a sacred poem. Read it out loud first, noticing the pauses, with the support of the breath to make them audible. Then silently repeat the poem to yourself, every day, to learn to feel the hidden pauses that shape your life as surely as they do sentences and constellations.
Meaning and form shine through these invisible connectors. They are there between every inhalation and exhalation, before sneezing, before movement, before every thought, everywhere. Wherever you are, eternal truth is there to speak to you through the poetic pauses. And with each pause, you recover a little more under‑ standing of your true Self.
Kate Vogt has studied classical yoga for many
years with Georg Feuerstein and A.G. and Indra Mohan. She teaches asana, meditation, and the Yoga Sutra in the San Francisco Bay Area and is co-editor of Mala of the Heart: 108 Sacred Poems.