Monday, October 3, 2011
Slow down and feel better
Impatience is anxiety. Anxiety creates excess stress which is, as everyone knows, bad for everything.
But how do we keep from becoming impatient? It is a quality embraced by the society in which I live. Everything is supposed to happen instantaneously. Snap. Yesterday at Peregrine Espresso there was a long line of people waiting to order. The guy in front of me said to the cashier, "When I saw the long line, I almost cried."
Really? From the time he got in line ahead of me until the moment he began sipping his delicious latte, three and a half minutes passed. I know - I timed it. Wow. Of course I do it, too, waiting in line or at a stoplight, waiting waiting waiting impatiently for the light to turn green. It's only 45 seconds until the light turns, but I'm chomping at the bit. Is 45 seconds really too long to wait? If I don't step on the gas the microsecond the light turns green, people behind me will honk. We are very impatient people here in Washington DC, hence over-stressed and in no way the better for it.
There are many American slang phrases that pay tribute to the virtues of impatience. Hit the ground running, for instance. What does that mean? Why does everything need to be so fast? I could name other phrases, but you get the point, yes?
One of my great therapists used to talk about building the capacity for tolerance as a basis of good health. Tolerance is patience, it means you can sit with situations, people, emotions, that you can give these powerful things some space. Take a deep breath, count to ten, is a well known practice for developing tolerance. There are a million others.
Meditation as well as my work have provided ample opportunities to practice. I can't rush through a session of bodywork; it just doesn't work. When I'm feeling impatient I consciously slow down. It's a powerful practice I highly recommend. Say you're hurrying to get dinner on the table, rushing, pushing. Take a breath, light a candle, pour a glass of wine. Purposely slow down. What I've found is that when I slow down, time magically stretches out, and my impatience (as well as anxiety) abates a bit. In the case of dinner it might add 10-15 minutes to the time I spend cooking. Ten minutes. You don't have ten spare minutes in your day? If that's true, then something is very out of balance in your life. If you do have the time, but never take those ten minutes, try it. You might enjoy cooking dinner, who knows? You might. Your body will definitely benefit from it. And dinner will taste better, I promise.
Have a nice, slow Monday evening. Shalom.