Patience is a virtue that doesn’t appear automatically. Our busy daily lives can teach us to be impatient, always hurrying to catch a bus or make a meeting. Here are three simple practices you can do to cultivate patience in your life and relationships.
Of course, I’m going to start with yoga! Yoga is the single best tool we have for cultivating patience, as it unites and trains both our mind and our physical body. Moving through the postures with grace and attention teaches us bodily patience — we don’t improve by speeding up. The mental discipline of attending classes, listening to the teacher, and following the instructions are powerful ways to improve our patience and develop a more open, aware relationship to the world.
Other people are a major source of impatience! We get annoyed at the people dawdling on the pavement, or holding up the grocery queue. We are frustrated with friends who don’t respond to emails, and colleagues who don’t deliver reports on time. One way to break this habit of reacting impatiently is to put ourselves in the other person’s shoes. Maybe the slow walker is tired; maybe our friend is dealing with a personal problem… there are infinite reasons why someone might not move as quickly, or in the way we would like. Taking the time to consider these reasons — and to think about the times we may have inadvertently triggered impatience in others — is a great way to maintain perspective and compassion, and keep your blood pressure down.
Create space in your day
One of the easiest ways to get yourself stressed and impatient is to over-schedule (and I speak from experience!) When you’re rushing to get somewhere, or complete a task, it is natural to feel irritated if something interrupts. In order to avoid this, create space in your day. Set your alarm a bit earlier so you can awake without feeling rushed, leave for that appointment 10 minutes early so you don’t have to fret over traffic snarls, aim to have that project completed a day before the deadline to give yourself time to tidy any loose ends. When you begin to mindfully make room in your day for life’s little vagaries you defuse their power to upset your mood and derail your plans.
What are your best tips for cultivating patience? Share in the comments!