Cultivating Patience

Ilze GroblerMindfulness and ACT for Beginners Group, Mindfulness Meditation

In a frantic world that demands instant gratification we often find ourselves stuck in a vicious cycle of impatience. Cultivating the skill of patience through mindfulness and Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT) offers us an extraordinary grace that we can extend to ourselves and others.

Pause for a moment and ask yourself: Who or what has annoyed, irritated or frustrated you today?

In a frantic world demanding instant gratification, the demand for instant results is seeping into every corner of our lives. You may be in denial and say: “not me”, but be honest… don’t you just love same-day deliveries, on-line ordering to avoid busy shopping malls and waiting in queues, a computer that thinks faster than you do – instantly opening a page without having to wait? Sounds familiar? The truth is that instant gratification is making us perpetually impatient. We even become impatient with ourselves through self-criticism for ‘not being over our depression by now’, or not mastering a new task with the first attempt.

But ask yourself: at what cost does impatience come to you? Do you use impatience as a default response even when it doesn’t work? Does it help you to build relationships with others or destroy it? Does it help you to move towards the things that you value in your life? Are you stuck in a vicious cycle of impatience that doesn’t lead to more positive mood states?

The revelation for me is that a lot of things that are really valuable take time. I also learned that patience is a skill that I can cultivate, not an inherited trait that I happened not to inherit. Patience is an extraordinary grace that we can extend to ourselves and others in the most ordinary of circumstances.

You can practice the skill of patience through taking a one-minute mindful pause:

Just stop. Recognise that impatience has arisen. Catch your mind ranting that you shouldn’t be in this situation because you are. Give up the fight.

  1. Settle into the moment. Notice how impatience feels in your mind and in your body. Is your mind calm or agitated? Is your body tight, tense, breathing shallowly, clenching? Focus on these sensations as closely as you can with non-judgment and curiosity. Touch them with your mind.
  2. Take a compassionate breath and see if you can open up any tightness, making room for the discomfort to be there because it already is.
  3. Rather than a default reaction, make a conscious choice how you would like to respond in a way that would be in line with your values.

When we transform impatience into patience we treat ourselves with compassion and calmly accept things as they are. Conditions will change, and so will your mind!

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