How to Practice Patience for Mindfulness

Patience is an important attitude to practice for any mindful living approach. Helen Keller, the American deaf blind political activist is quoted as saying, ‘We could never learn to be brave and patient, if there were only joy in the world.’ The quote makes a valid point. If every time you meditated, you were filled with joy and peace, you wouldn’t need that wonderful attitude of patience.

The reality is that challenging thoughts and emotions sometimes arise in meditation, like in any activity. The important thing is how you meet and welcome those feelings.

Although you can experience the benefits of meditation after a short period of time, research shows that the more time you dedicate to cultivating mindfulness, the more effective the result. Meditation is a training of the mind and training takes time.

If you’re a naturally rather impatient person, meditation is the perfect training for you. Patience is a state you can develop through regular effort. Attitudes are muscles you can train in the gym of the mind.

Here are some ways you can develop your patience:

  • Whenever you’re in any situation and begin to experience impatience, see this as an opportunity to practice mindfulness of thoughts. This means becoming fascinated by the kind of thoughts that are popping into your head. Are they all true? What effect are the thoughts having on your emotional state? What are the thoughts all about?

  • The next time you’re driving and see a yellow light, safely stop if you can rather than speeding through. See how that makes you feel. Repeat several times and notice if it becomes easier or more difficult to be patient.

  • Rather than frantically choosing the shortest queue at the supermarket checkout, just choose the nearest one. Connect with any feelings of impatience that arise and bring a sense of curiosity to your experience, rather than immediately reacting to your impatience.

  • When having a conversation with someone, spend more time listening rather than speaking. Let go of your initial urges to speak, and listen more. Listening can take tremendous effort, and is excellent patience training. Each time you practise, you train your brain to become slightly more patient.

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