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The Grace of Patience

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  • medit8ionsociety
    The Grace of Patience An Excerpt from One-Minute Mindfulness by Donald Altman Patience makes a mockery of expectations. It is the freedom to live at our own
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 2, 2011
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      The Grace of Patience
      An Excerpt from One-Minute Mindfulness by Donald Altman

      Patience makes a mockery of expectations. It is
      the freedom to live at our own pace and in our own
      way. Patience is also an extraordinary grace that
      we extend to others in the most ordinary of
      circumstances. The patience we display in each
      minute makes the powerful statement that we are
      not judging others or ourselves harshly. With
      patience, we transcend all the annoying things
      life is known for.

      Who or what has annoyed, irritated, or frustrated
      you today? Some studies indicate that as much as
      10 percent of the population is irritated on a
      daily basis. This level of chronic annoyance may
      not be toxic or seriously harm others, but it can
      push people away and creates an atmosphere for
      negative emotions to escalate.

      One of my favorite stories about annoyance involves
      the nineteenth-century mystic and teacher Gurdjieff,
      who attracted seekers to his training center outside
      Paris. Gurdjieff employed a crusty caretaker, who
      always managed to upset the students. One day they
      pulled such a nasty practical joke on the caretaker
      that he quit his job. When Gurdjieff heard of this,
      he located the man and not only begged him to return
      but also met his demands. When the students were
      called to a meeting and learned about the caretaker's
      return, they expressed dismay. But Gurdjieff explained
      that the caretaker was one of his finest teachers,
      someone who pushed the students' buttons and forced
      them to look inward at their anger and disturbance.

      One-minute mindfulness gives us the option to cool
      down and to extend the grace of patience to ourselves
      and others — in that immediate moment when we need
      it most. Patience is a form of forbearance, a value
      so important that it is among one of Buddhism's
      perfections on the path to enlightened living. Forbearance
      means we don't have to mindlessly react to annoyances
      and criticisms. It gives us the freedom to respond in
      a more spacious way. The Buddha outlined a one-minute
      mindfulness approach to patience when he explained
      to one of his monks, "There are profit and loss, slander
      and honor, praise and blame, pain and pleasure in this
      world; the Enlightened One is not controlled by these
      external things; they will cease as quickly as they come."

      In that first minute that follows an annoyance, remind
      yourself that the cause of your upset is impermanent.
      Think about the nature of what usually pushes you to
      the edge. Is the offending person, comment, or incident
      really a reflection of you? Does the annoyance go on
      and on, or does it stop at some point? If in that first
      minute you don't respond in your typical way, what will happen?

      Forbearance and patience are necessary in all relationships
      to smooth over the little and bigger differences. Patience
      is not about someone walking all over you; it is a
      conscious decision to let things go. After all, we
      humans are subject to frailty. With one-minute patience
      in your corner, you can practice not taking the little
      things personally and use that experience to help you
      through the bigger upsets.

      PRACTICE

      For the next sixty seconds, visualize yourself in
      a difficult situation such as an argument. See yourself
      holding silence in response to the situation. While
      you see yourself this way, set the intention not to
      complain when your expectations are not met in various
      situations, such as when you're waiting in line,
      you're stuck in traffic, or someone criticizes you.
      Visualize yourself refraining from reacting negatively.
      The next time an upsetting event occurs, you will be
      ready to use what you have been mentally rehearsing.
      As you refrain from reacting, notice where in your body
      you feel irritation — the gut, the head, the chest —
      and with each exhalation, imagine the tension draining
      out of your hands and feet. You don't need to hold on
      to this for a minute longer.

      Excerpted from the book One-Minute Mindfulness ©2011 by Donald Altman. Printed with permission of New World Library, Novato, CA. www.newworldlibrary.com

      Donald Altman, M.A., LPC, is the author of One-Minute Mindfulness, The Mindfulness Code, and Meal-by-Meal. Known as America's Mindfulness Coach, he is a practicing psychotherapist who conducts mindful living and mindful eating workshops and retreats through colleges, community centers, and health care organizations. Visit him online at http://www.OneMinuteMindfulnessBook.com
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