Waking up from habit mind, the mind that grasps at whatever it touches, is the first step on any path. As such, the first instruction in Insight Dialogue is Pause. To pause is to stop some activity temporarily, to let it go. The pause in Insight Dialogue is meant to help us dwell a moment with our immediate experience as it is while listening, before speaking, while we speak, and after speaking. The pause is mindfulness, which opens the door to the present moment, to a movement from grasping to non-grasping, from clinging to non-clinging. It is an interruption of a lifetime of habitual forward pressure.
It takes energy to interrupt this habitual push of the reactive mind. The energy needed is called right effort — the intention to calm down and wake up. Even with strong intention, though, we must have a way of working with the habits of the heart-mind. We need gentle guidance and a practice. As such, when we get lost in emotions and fabrications of the mind, we can pause and become mindful of what is happening in the body and the mind. Since the body and mind move together, attending to the body is a way to ground us in this mindfulness. We can, for example, ask ourselves how the body is right now. We can become aware of the incredibly rapid movement of bodily sensations.
Mindfulness that arises from pausing connects us to passing phenomena: the rising and passing of sensations, thoughts and moods, pleasant and unpleasant experience. We may suddenly notice that we are not in fact these phenomena. Through practice, we develop agility at becoming aware of such phenomena without identifying with them. This understanding is as pivotal to our freedom as Pause is to creating mindfulness.