Here’s an easy and effective way to get more mindfulness, patience and peace in your life. With this technique you’ll open up lots of opportunities for mindful moments. Even better, those moments will replace time that would normally be filled with impatience, boredom, or mindless distraction. It’s like the six point swing of mindfulness practices.
Here it is:
Waiting Is Meditating
Or, waiting is mindfulness.
That’s it. You remove waiting from your life, and replace it with awareness.
Anytime you find yourself in a state of ‘waiting’ for something, use this as a reminder to be present and practice mindfulness. Take 3 long deep breaths, relaxing yourself, and then bring your attention into your body. (Or do whatever mindfulness practice you like).
Sounds easy, and in principle it is, but it takes some practice and mental reprogramming to get there consistently. I won’t pretend I practice this everywhere, but I do it often and find it to be a great tool to have in the mindful kit, and certainly most worthy of a share.
How To Practice
An example to demonstrate….
You enter the supermarket to do some grocery shopping. You’re in a hurry and just want to buy your stuff and get on with your day. You whip round and with your basket full you join the queue for the checkout. It’s a little longer than you’d like.
Now, instead of entering a state of ‘waiting’ and whatever that might normally bring up, (maybe a feeling of hurried restlessness and/or a compulsive urge to get your phone out and check some feed), you check yourself. You stop for a moment.
You take 3 deep breaths.
You bring your attention to the sensations in your body.
You observe them patiently until you reach the front of the line.
When you reach the cashier you’re more relaxed and focused, and go on with your day, happy to have taken the opportunity for a mindful moment.
Opportunity Is Everywhere
If you consider how many times you find yourself waiting, you’ll see how many opportunities there are for mindfulness:
- Any queue or line: shops, airports, banks, post offices etc.
- Stopping at a red light
- Something is downloading, buffering, loading, converting
- Coffee is brewing/tea steeping/water boiling
- Bus stop/tram station/train station platform
I’m sure you can think of many more. Try to think of one now. What is something you often have to wait for? Think of how it would affect you if you slowed down every time.
To frequently and effectively use this in your life, it helps to mentally program yourself to associate waiting with this practice, so you catch those opportunities rather than missing them in a blur of hurried and unconscious thoughts (hey, we all do it).
To do this, first find a short phrase that is catchy for you. Some examples:
‘Waiting is breathing’
‘Waiting is slowing down’
‘Waiting is mindfulness’
Then once you have your phrase, drill it in. As if you were learning a new word or other behaviour; repetition repetition repetition.
Sit down for 5 minutes and meditate on it, repeating it like a mantra. Saying, over and over again, ‘waiting is breathing, waiting is breathing, waiting is breathing…’.
You can also write your phrase down and leave it somewhere you’ll see it a lot, like your desk or mirror, whilst you train yourself to associate waiting with your practice.
Implement this in to your life and over time you’ll naturally become more patient in times when you’ve found yourself mentally (or loudly) saying ‘hurry up!’ Or ‘come oooon’. You know what I’m talking about 😉
As with anything, it takes practice, so keep it up!