Play and Pause


“All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women
merely players;
They have their exits
and their entrances,
And one man in his time
plays many parts…”

William Shakespeare

Over the ages, many people have likened human life to a play, also describing it as a script which we ourselves are writing, staging and performing.  Throughout our lives, we each have many roles, in various dramas, with countless changes of scenery, props, cast and crew and we become lost in the illusion of it all.  On this earthly stage, there is much to play with, despair of and delight in!

The idea of play is woven into our experience in many different ways and the word carries a variety of meanings, including performing on a musical instrument, displaying behaviour that is not serious or treating a person disrespectfully.  We may play for time, play with fire or play into someone’s hands.


One of the many uses of the word, which we see all the time, is the Play button on electronic equipment and remote controls.

The symbols of Play and Pause are now familiar to us.

Play is to do with action and doing.
Pause is to do with reflection and being.

We can choose Play or Pause at any time.

On the ‘stage of life’, when we are caught up in the constant busyness of the everyday, we have pressed Play.  Absorbed in the parts we are playing, we become unwilling to step out of our role in the drama and to press Pause.


The Pause symbol is like a gateway. Once we pause in the midst of the play of life, we can step over the threshold, between the two pillars of opposing forces, moving towards stillness.  As we go through the gateway, we turn away from the physical into non-physical realms.

Now we are able to shift perspective, alter awareness and change our mind.  Of course, our mind doesn’t want to change and will keep resisting!

When we press Pause, we are choosing stillness and can simply observe for a moment, allowing an awareness that we are not our body, nor our role in the drama, nor our thoughts or our feelings.

To be on Play all the time, is to choose and prefer action to contemplation.

To choose to press the Pause button allows us to stop for a while and reflect.

To choose or not to choose, that is the choice!

Often we won’t press Pause at all because we think it means finding an extended amount of time.  Yet, we can shift from doing to being in the blink of an eye, if we allow the possibility of taking small pauses and kindling the minutest of moments.  We are making thousands of small choices every day and all of them are significant.  Tiny choices count and tiny pauses work.

People are often advised, with good reason, to develop a regular meditation practice of twenty to thirty minutes, several times a day.  Yet, many people say that when they set aside such a time to meditate, they feel restless, impatient and worried about all the things they could be doing, if only they weren’t trying to meditate!  Of course, it is a part of the process to acknowledge these feelings and allow them to dissolve and transform.  However, sometimes the frustration creates such obstacles that people are put off meditating or pausing at all.

Rather than seeing meditation as something separate from the rest of life and impossible to fit in, we can incorporate small pauses into the flow of the everyday, nourishing even the smallest moments of inner stability and calm.  Sincere intention is more important than clock time.  We are stepping out of clock time into moments of timelessness and it is from this that we receive the flow of benefits.  It is the choice to stop and be still, in the midst of our exploits, which is important – whether for half an hour or half a minute.

No matter what is happening around us, our thoughts and feelings are always our own responsibility.  It is only we, ourselves, who can choose to stop and connect to the inner reservoir of peace, which awaits us and our decision.  To pause is to allow a space for reflection; to look within rather than to seek outside; to be still and connect to the calm at the centre of ourselves.  The decision to press Pause will bring changes and the intention is more important than the duration of the interval.

In these current times, as the energy is changing so fast, we need to press Play less often; to learn not to push onward, trying to force results, as we may have done in the past but to stop, step back and observe. If we exercise humility, recognising that we cannot solve things by our own efforts, we will press Pause more regularly.  Then we are learning to practise a detached involvement and to be led by intuition and, in so doing, we are less likely to become drained or fragmented and instead remain balanced and positive.

“When you really look for me, you will see me instantly –
you will find me in the tiniest house of time.”

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