By Teresa Dornellas

I was driving down Route 17 the other day, with the usual Saturday afternoon traffic, when I noticed some commotion: drivers honking their horns nervously, there was some unrest. The red light turned to green and we moved. Just a few feet ahead, one of the drivers threw a cup of ice on the windshield of the other car – I suppose these were the two drivers who were upset with each other before.

The ice flew all over and almost hit my car also. That was a very angry and dangerous move, and it got me thinking, what could have someone done to justify such an aggressive response?

At the time, I was on my way to teach a yoga class, and that became the theme of my class.

I asked myself this: how out of control our emotions need to be in order for us to completely lose it and do something so dangerous to someone we don’t know and may never see again? That act could have caused an accident, people could have been severely injured, other people not involved in their disagreement could have been hurt too. And why?

One of the greatest gifts of Yoga is that it teaches us to pause. Pause to breathe. Pause to shift from one pose to the next. Pause to watch our breath and observe what it does to our bodies and minds. Pause to decide if we want to react or let go…

I do believe we are all born with the ability to pause before we act. But in the haste of life, enveloped by the aggression of our culture and our need to always be right, we often skip it. We may be quick to judge, condemn and often punish those who we believe did us wrong, without pausing to think of the possible consequences of our acts.

There are some questions that may help us in that moment of pause: How important is it? Will I even remember this incident tomorrow, a month from now, a year from now? Is this worth my peace of mind? What am I trying to accomplish by reacting? Where’s my reaction coming from?

The great author and Buddhist Monk, Pema Chodron, says this: “It all comes through learning to pause for a moment, learning not to just impulsively do the same thing again and again. It’s a transformative experience to simply pause instead of immediately filing up the space.”

Pause. Breathe. Dive in. Move on.