Want to be more patient? Take a time-in

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When we are too busy to relax, we have to work harder to achieve it. But where can one find the peace of mind to become a meditative person? These two exercises point the way. 

Exercise 1 – Learn to accept impatience

“I’m not impatient at all! I just find it ridiculous that this should take so long.” A lot of things in life take long – the line at the checkout, the wait until you are the next caller on the phone, the traffic jam, the time it takes to have something repaired, the wait before the product you ordered arrives in the post, a friend who is late… Well, that’s life in this world.

The mind works faster than the speed of light, but matter is always trying to catch up wheezing. No one will ever say that it takes a ridiculously long time before a child in its mother’s womb is ready to be born, right? Everything under the sun has a natural duration; we can’t predict it down to the minute, we can only respect it.

Realising and accepting that you are impatient is the first step in practicing patience. Self-compassion allows us to treat our own feelings like an ideal mother would treat a child having a tantrum: with kindness and understanding, but firmly. “No, you cannot have your way. But I do love you. I understand that you’re impatient, that you don’t want it to take so long. Hush now, sweetheart, it will be alright.”

Exercise 2 – Take a time-in

Time-out is a popular term for a short break, but according to American psychiatrist Daniel Siegel, a time-in is even more important. Take three minutes a day at least to look inward, he says. Pay attention to your breathing, feel your heart, and then check all your senses. Realise how grateful you are that you’re alive and that you can see, hear, smell, taste and feel. Then focus on your spirit; be aware that you have a mental world, and realise how great it is that you can think clearly.

Next, focus on your relationships. See them in your mind’s eye and realize with gratitude that you are connected to other people. You can picture all these aspects of your life as a big round wheel, which Siegel calls the Wheel of Awareness. The spokes are represented by our focused attention, and the source of all that attention is the centre, the axis of the wheel. If you let all of this pass through your mind every day, says Siegel, your life will change for the good, because it improves the integration of all parts of your inner world. It can become a habit just as natural as brushing your teeth, for example; a kind of mental hygiene.

Text: Lisette Thooft - Photo Julia Caesar

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