Thursday, January 28, 2016

Selah: Pause and Think about That

My poetic friend, Irene Latham, invited me to join a group of bloggers for Spiritual Journey Thurday. The object is to reflect on some aspect of my spiritual journey in relationship to another blogger's "One Little Word" for this year. Holly Mueller hosts the posts at Reading, Teaching, Learning. Today we're exploring One Grateful Teacher, Michelle Hasseltine's choice of "Selah."

As Michelle mentions in her post, no one is certain what the word actually means, but it is found mostly in the Psalms. It's related to music and often a transition of thought in the lyrics. I like to think of it as a pause, a place to reflect on what was just said or what just happened, and perhaps that reflection will cause my next move to be different than it might have been without that pause. 

from Psalm 3
3 But you, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high.
4 I call out to the Lord, and he answers me from his holy mountain. Selah

It's easy to settle into our fast-food culture spiritually, to say my prayers, check off my intercessions, ask for my needs and move on to the next thing in my day. But if I pause, Selah, and think about the fact that the Lord answers me from his holy mountain, I don't want to move away so quickly. I want to learn to stop long enough to listen, to hear his answer. That only happens in the pause.

I teach yoga. At the end of each class, we settle into a pose called savasana (sha-voh-sun-uh). Literally translated that means corpse pose. I know it sounds a little funny, but sometimes it takes a small death to my to do list in order to stop long enough to listen. At the end of a yoga class, the pause allows time for the body to settle and the mind to assimilate what was practiced before moving on into the day. I watch people who aren't used to this fidget and squirm. Then as they continue coming to class, they begin to settle into this pause, they begin to understand how important it is. It's a quiet place, a place to rest, a place to listen to whatever God is speaking at that moment. Sometimes it's an answer, sometimes it's a sweet affirmation, sometimes it's just a holy quietness like that moment when you're having coffee with a friend and the conversations are over, but you sit still, enjoying the presence of the other.

I try to cultivate that pause into my life. It's not always easy, but it's important.


  1. So glad you joined in, Doraine! And so glad you related this to the practice of yoga. The fast food culture isn't the way I want to live. I want a yoga life with selah and poetry and friends like you. xo

  2. This is exactly how I feel, " culture spiritually, to say my prayers, check off my intercessions, ask for my needs and move on to the next thing in my day"! It's one of my motivations for picking the word, selah. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on my word!

  3. "Cultivate a pause into my life." So important! In stillness we can hear so much more clearly.

  4. So often, I feel my life is rushing by too fast. It seems like finding time to slow down gets harder and harder. This week, the blizzard forced me to physically slow down, I'm still struggling with getting my mind to slow down, but when I do, it feels wonderful.

  5. Pauses and taking the time to be still are indeed so important. God is there waiting to bless us. Thanks for the reminder. I am so glad you joined Spiritual Journey Thursdays.

  6. That yoga practice seems so peaceful, but I am the one fidgeting and squirming! ;-) You're so right about fast-food spirituality - I am guilty of that - checking off my spiritual duties and moving on. I will think about your post and the practice of savasana next time I'm rushing through it all! So glad to have you join us here!

  7. Doraine, you are so right about the savasana pose. I have missed yoga for months because of my rotator cuff tears but I want to get back so I can feel the peace, the pause that brings me to a calmer me. Perhaps, I can simulate the experience at home without putting strain on my shoulder. Fast-food spirituality is not what I want for my life but I have to say that I am guilty at times. Thanks for the thought.

  8. I love how you relate "Selah" to something you do in your class. Perhaps that's a way one could incorporate "selah" more consistently into life... by associating it with a habit or part of routine. I'm going to think about how to do this.

  9. Thank you for sharing your reflections, shedding light on the spiritual-Scriptural sense of the sacred pause, incorporating your Yoga-connected experience of Selah. Your writing, itself, speaks in a gentle tone and unhurried pace that invites Selah. Thank you! God bless you!