In writing and talking and thinking about kintsugi, I spend most of my time referring to a "break" as something that needs to be repaired. It's something created by trauma and loss that leaves something that was once whole in pieces. It's a cause of pain and suffering in our lives.
That's not the only kind of break, though.
There's also the kind of break that is a pause in activity, a rest period between times of work, a breathing space for recovery and rejuvenation. This kind of break is one that facilitates healing.
When I first began lifting weights many years ago, one of the first things I learned was the importance of taking a day (or two) off between working a given muscle group. Muscles need time to rest and repair the micro-damage that lifting creates before working them so intensely again. This break in lifting is necessary for them to have time to build new muscle between workouts.
Likewise, when I'm struggling to solve a problem, come up with a new idea, or remember something that's just out of my mind's reach, I've discovered that the very best thing I can do to help things along is to take a break and go do something completely different. Giving my mind a break allows things to bubble up from my subconscious in a way that constant, intense focus will never do.
There are also times when taking a break from an emotionally charged situation, especially one that involves conflict, is absolutely necessary for me to be able to calm my emotions enough to be able to see things in a different light. This is the only way that I can create enough space to choose better responses and better solutions that best address the situation.
In doing my kintsugi work, I have to take a break in my work on any given piece after applying the repair compound to give it time to cure and harden before I can move on to the next steps. Similarly, baking bread requires a pause in activity to allow the dough to rise before the work can continue.
Unfortunately, this good kind of break is one that's becoming increasingly endangered in our 24/7, always-on, digitally powered world.
Social media never pauses. There's always newly published news and information available to consume. The store is always open online. New emails and notifications arrive 24/7. It never stops, never pauses, never takes a break.
We tend to push ourselves to do the same, but that's not how we are made or how we function best as human beings. We impoverish ourselves in our quest to be always on and always engaged.
It may seem counter-intuitive, but no matter what our goal—from business to creative work to healing our wounds to exercise goals and more—giving ourselves breaks to let our physical, mental, and emotional "muscles" relax and rebuild makes it possible for us to accomplish more and make better progress toward our goals.
Pausing lets us build strength and resilience so that we are better able to deal with the challenges and difficulties that life throws at us so the painful breaks are easier to survive.
In my own life, running an online business makes it very hard to take a break. In the last 6+ years since I've started A Kintsugi Life, I've never truly taken time off, and it's taking a toll on me. I still haven't grown to the point that I can afford to completely close down for a week, but I am planning a partial break for next week (August 12-18).
The shop will still be open, and I'll still be shipping orders that come in, but I'm taking a week off from social media, the blog, the email newsletter, and other behind-the-scenes regular work to give myself a chance to rest and to play with some new creative ideas.
I'm looking forward to the breather and hoping to come back feeling invigorated and refreshed after the pause.
When was the last time you really took a break?
How often do you create intentional pauses in your days (or weeks or months or years) to rest and rebuild?
What kind of break would serve you best right now?
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