“Patience is not learned in safety.” -Pema Chodron
Spring tests my patience. Every single year. Especially here in Colorado, as the weather whips back and forth between snow and sun, and as calm mornings give way to blustery afternoons, my patience is tried every spring. I become anxious for warmer, more stable weather.
Every spring, I am reminded once again that I am not in control. Patience is the only way through.
We humans, though, don’t learn patience the easy way. We don’t learn patience when things are going our way. Rather, we learn patience when we are tested, and when we finally have to accept that we can’t control the world.
Patience in the modern world
If our ancestors could see us now, they might laugh. We get frustrated when it takes more than three seconds for a web page to load. We have heart palpitations when we can’t get a wireless signal.
I try to imagine what it was like to wait weeks or months for a letter to arrive in the mail from a faraway friend – but with the instantaneous response I can get through email, I just can’t wrap my head around that.
We are so spoiled today, and yet we’re more impatient than ever.
Patience is a virtue … that some people don’t possess
When I feel myself getting impatient, I first ask myself, Is this situation within my control?
- If the answer is yes, then I actively try to change the situation so it is less stressful for me.
- If the answer is no, and I can’t seem to let the stress go, I move on to a breathing meditation like the following.
Breath of Patience
1. Settle into a comfortable seated position and close your eyes. Rest your hands gently on the tops of your thighs.
2. Take a deep breath in through your nose. Imagine the breath reaches all the way to the base of your spine. Let your belly expand with breath.
3. Breathe out through your nose.
4. Take another deep breath. Again let it reach all the way to the base of your spine. This time, though, imagine once it hits the base of your spine, it bounces up a little bit and reaches the point between your pelvis and your belly button.
5. Breathe out through your nose.
6. Take another deep breath. This time the breath hits the bottom and bounces up above your belly button.
7. Breathe out through your nose.
8. Take a final deep breath. Imagine it hits the base of your spine and bounces all the way up to your heart. Now your entire torso is filled with that rejuvenating breath.
9. Breathe out through your nose.
10. Open your eyes and come back to the world renewed.
This breathing meditation has two big benefits. First, the effort it takes to visualize your breath this way will force you to focus on the moment. Second, deep breathing is proven to reduce stress. Increasing focus and reducing stress are keys to improving patience.
Why should you care about improving your patience? Do a Google search for “definition of patience” and you’ll read: The capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble or suffering without getting angry or upset. This instant-gratification world we live in is making us more susceptible to stress when there is delay, trouble or suffering. Improving your patience will lower your stress, increase your peace of mind and improve your life.