Abi Burns took time out to visit PAUSE earlier this Summer. This is what she said about Soulscape’s reflective project.
I was sceptical at first about how PAUSE would be received. I suspected that children wouldn’t be sufficiently emotionally mature, that they probably wouldn’t be able to calm down long enough to appreciate the opportunity they had been given. To be honest, for some of them this was the case. And others seemed genuinely not to be worried or stressed, but they were all happy not to be in a lesson. However, although they didn’t think they were getting a lesson, in a way that is exactly what was happening. Not with books and teachers and homework, but through experiencing the benefits of PAUSE. They were being taught the value of giving yourself a rest. Just as your body needs sleep, your mind needs a chance to recover too.
PAUSE: a temporary stop or rest, especially in regards to speech and action.
Just as your body needs sleep, your mind needs a chance to recover too. I wish I’d learnt this while doing my exams.
It’s not an easy thing to learn, but it is important to remember, and something that I wished I had been better at, especially while I was doing my exams.
It very quickly became apparent that while not all the young people were engaged at the deepest level, there were definitely those who did need the moment that PAUSE was giving them. Whether it was the stress of homework, family problems, or the loss of a pet that was troubling them, they needed space to think. Or sometimes they needed space to just be – time when they didn’t have to think. I watched as they played with beads and lego – manual activities that they could do on autopilot, and which gave them the silence they required to rest.
In our hectic, modern lives taking time to stop, think and reflect is often pushed to the back of our minds, buried under a pile of stuff labelled ‘Things I must do at some point in the near future’. It would be nice to stop, but I’ve got more important things to do: watch the next episode of Stranger Things, update my snapchat story, do my homework, etc.
It is well documented that taking the time to stop and process stuff that goes on in our lives helps improve our mental health and general state of well-being. Mindfulness and meditation are largely based on this. When we repress things that need processing, they fester at the back of our minds and eventually manifest themselves in negative ways, be that depression, stress, self harm or anxiety. The ways in which we process things that happen in our lives varies; we may cry, talk to someone, reflect quietly, pray – these are all healthy ways to process. But we have to give ourselves the chance to do this.
Soulscape’s PAUSE is a brilliant project, namely because it lets us do just that. A quiet environment in which to reflect, with people available to support and help.
I think in this age where mental health issues are so prevalent among young people, projects like PAUSE are especially important. Skills like meditation and mindfulness can be taught, and I believe it would be beneficial to the general well-being of all schoolchildren to teach them how to take care of themselves as an act of prevention, to spare them from the possible suffering they might have to go through.
I would hope that in the future some of these young people will remember the benefits PAUSE gave them, and that they will understand the value of pressing the pause button on life, even if just for a minute or two.
The value of pressing the pause button on life, even if just for a minute or two.