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Patience, Patience, Patience

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.

Anger like impatience is a self contained act. You are usually experiencing it alone inside yourself. You want people to hurry, you have things to do, lost in your own head crunching down not to explode. Patience is a skill and we are always learning new aspects of how to be more patient. Most times we are only torturing ourselves when we lose our patience, our heart rate increases, thoughts start to race and we start making false future predictions about being late and dramatizing what is going to be our future.

Finding ways to interrupt your patterns and be in the moment is a great way to develop your skill for patience. For example: Last week on a day trip to Cayo with some friends we stopped at an outdoor restaurant to have some lunch. The setting was beautiful; having rained last week the tree leaves were a rich green, fruit and flower buds sparkled everywhere. The sound of birds surrounded our table, which was nestled in the midst of a garden. We were all hungry and anxious to be served. We had errands to accomplish and time was crucial. My stomach complaining, like an animal that needed to feed. I could feel my patience thinning. Agitated we all looked around waiting to be served. Just as frustration started to set in, one of my friends noticed a bird in a nest. We all watched as this small bird attempted to feed her young chick. Patiently it transferred food beak to beak to the tiny chick. Mesmerized we were lost in the moment. I forgot my hunger and time seemed endless as our observation took us into another world where time was not a concern. The voice of the waitress broke the spell and we all returned to the present moment and ordered our meal. Distraction furthers patience.

At this time of year we all need to practice more patience as the slow season advances. I’ve come to appreciate patience as the supreme medicine. Apply patience, and frustration goes away, hunger and desire cools, peace becomes possible.

The revelation for me was that patience is a skill, not an inherited trait I happened not to inherit. It leads to relaxation, not anxiousness. It gives you the freedom to have a pleasant time even when things are not going your way. It converts the helpless rage of impatience into a timeless sense of spaciousness. Explore some of the methods below and see for yourself:

Stop ranting
Just stop. Catch the mind ranting about how this situation should be—because you are in it already. Give up the fight. You’ve lost the battle, but it’s not the end of the world.

Settle into the moment
You might feel your body ease down, yielding to gravity, practice deep breathing. Relax your shoulders and belly, loosen your jaw too.

Rise above
Go into your body with your mind’s eye and find out how you know you’re impatient. Are you tight, tense, breathing shallowly, racing thoughts, clenching, jiggling? Where exactly? Focus on those sensations as closely as you can. Touch them with your mind. Imagine yourself as a bird flying above your situation looking down at your body.

Distract yourself
Find something in your surroundings to focus on. If you are at your desk, start drawing funny faces on a piece of paper, count the tiles on the floor, make your mind move from the waiting, to the present moment.

Once your brain cools down, your powers of reason return. You thank God you are not a bird with a tiny beak trying to fill your belly, and you don’t have to hunt and peck every day. Hey! We’re in Belize.  And really, it’s all going to be okay.

When you give up the fight, you get time. Time stretches. You sink into the moment, and it seems infinite. You have all the time in the world.

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