Years ago I studied the work of Barbara Mettler, a pioneer in improvisational movement. I danced with a group in Providence, RI. And every week or two we would take a pause from our personal lives to move together in co-creative and organic ways. It wasn’t about expressing the rhythm of music through the body, as you typically expect with dance. It was about getting in touch with one’s inner space and exploring and expressing it in form. There was no music. There was just attention, expression and connection… Connection first to oneself and then to others.
A technique that we used to bring about greater attention, connection and expression was known as the creative pause. The pause, just like the movement, was entirely organic. It arose from the body’s innate wisdom in an instinctively intentional way. And it was a powerful component of the creative process.
The body has many different rhythms within in it which instinctively and intentionally pause before moving again. There is a split second pause between heart beats. The lungs pause between breaths. And of course, we pause when we withdraw our attention from the activities of the day to sleep at night. With each pause, the body regroups itself, discharges, recharges and waits for the next inspiration.
What would happen if you were more conscious and intentional about the pauses that you take in your daily, weekly and even monthly rhythms? If you’re reading this, you probably already do this to a certain extent. Many of you take pauses to do things like meditation and yoga or to say grace before you eat. But what if you could make it even more organic than that?
What if you could take a conscious creative pause before you do something that seems automatic, like opening your mouth to say something to another person? What if, in that pause, you attended to your feelings and connected with what’s within you that really wants to come out? How would that shift your expression and connection with that other person?
The creative pause is a place to tune into what’s inside and to wait for all the energy and inspiration to come to you before taking the next creative action.
The more intentional you are about your pauses, the more potent and powerful your next expression can be.
Do you want to practice pausing to take care of yourself with other like-minded people? You are invited to check out our Virtual Retreats!
A Creative Dance Video:
Notice the creative pauses
Rob Dobson, Kell Julliard, Jeffry Pike, and Doug Victor improvise using Barbara Mettler’s principles of creative dance. The dance took place in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on September 9, 2007.