3 Steps to Being More Patient

Ahhhh, patience. We know it’s important, and we think we might have it, in theory. But, then, we’re idling behind some idiot for, at least, 1.8 seconds after the light changes from red to green or the new barista at Starbucks is possibly foaming our latte by hand, when we realize: OK. Maybe we could use some work.

We could; we all could.

When I feel this way, usually evidenced by a complete and utter lack of patience with myself most of all– Write faster! Make the decision! Snap out of this mood! Dive into that project! Do it now, now, now– I know it’s time to meditate. I like to visit the Cambridge Insight Meditation Center (above) via bicycle, early in the morning, preferably with the sun rising just-so over the Mass Ave. bridge. However, these elements are ideal, not essential.  The only requirement for meditation is to spend time paying attention, on purpose, without judgment.  You can meditate seated, standing, walking mindfully, or lying down.  You can do it in a class with others, at home by yourself, or if you’d like to get Suessian about it: on a train, on a plane, in a tree, or out at sea.  You can meditate anytime, anywhere.  Among myriad benefits, this skill helps cultivate patience.

Ditto dealing with difficult people and situations.  The current Om Gal Book Club selection, Buddha is as Buddha Does devotes a chapter to patience, which one member coincidentally found herself reading (and practicing) on a cross country flight beside a screaming toddler.  With experiences that trigger impatience, author Lama Surya Das offers the following three steps:

  1. Accept it as a given that your impatience is the problem and that you need to take at least one step toward being more patient.
  2. Ask “Who is this person?  How can I identify with him/her?  Why is he/she deserving of my patience?”
  3. Decide on– and commit to– at least one specific step you can take toward this person to demonstrate your active patience.

Most importantly, when you find that this practice is hard– maybe you fail, growl at a fellow commuter, snip at the barista, say something wretched to someone you love– try not to let the ire shorten your fuse with yourself once again.  Take a deep breath. Refocus your intention.  Meditate.

I’ll be right there with you, preferably in the morning, via bicycle, with the sun rising over the Mass Ave. bridge just-so.  But sometimes not.  See that’s the thing about patience: choosing the circumstances under which we practice is never the point.  It’s choosing how we respond to circumstances as they arise.  In other words, we aim to practice perfect patience in an imperfect environment: one breathe, barista, and screaming baby at a time.


This entry was posted in Meditation, Spirituality and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.
  • http://www.hilaryphelps.com Hilary Phelps

    Just what I needed this morning. Patience, is at times, so challenging. Thanks for the book recommendation!

    • http://www.omgal.com omgal

      Hilary!!!!! Wish you lived here. You would love our Book Club. Sending love & a deep, patient breath to start your day:-)

  • Nicole

    I am all about getting Suessian about it. I often find myself meditating on extremely crowded subway trains. Adding the book to my monstrosity of a book list, thanks!

  • Doc

    Excellent post. And you are the only person I know that uses the word ‘myriad’ correctly. So proud.

  • http://delightbytherealgirl.blogspot.com Jenny

    This was great, something I’m working on actually.

  • Rachel

    What a great post as patience is a never-ending venture. I love your book recommendations and was wondering if you post a list of your Book Club titles anywhere. Merci Bien~