Impatience is a family trait inherited mostly from the Spain side of the family, though my maternal grandmother, grandma Jane, was pretty feisty and did not suffer fools gladly.
I don’t like waiting but I’ve been fairly successful cultivating patience in almost every area of my life but often falter with my diabetes care. I want my blood sugars in a normal range and I want them there NOW. But exogenous insulin doesn’t work like that.
So how do I work with impatience and impulsiveness? I use mindfulness meditation and some nonviolent (NVC) communication tools, but I don’t see either as coping mechanisms or techniques, rather I know them as an integral part of my life and they can be a part of anyone’s life. Both meditation, especially metta practice, and NVC, nurture patience, loving-kindness and empathy for oneself and others. Both help practitioners become aware of the things that trigger or induce fear, because they often cause us to act in familiar, predictable, and very often unhelpful, ways. Meditation and NVC ground practitioners in the present, helping them act skillfully in the face of challenging people and events.
In the summer of 2011, I took several NVC introduction classes and did a 5 day retreat. NVC provides concrete tools that encourage new behaviors for dealing with challenging people- even that challenging person we know as us! An NVC practice that dovetails nicely with meditation practice is called Breath, Body, Needs. Each word is a prompt to remember an action.
Breath says, become aware of your breathing, or just breathe; body says, become aware of your body: where are you? Feel your feet on the ground, your breath moving in and out; ground yourself in where you actually are in this moment. Needs is an NVC term. Needs are universal to all sentient beings: the need for warmth, shelter, respect, spiritual nourishment, meaning etc. So in that moment when you repeat the phrase, “breath, body, needs” what do you need at that moment? Do you even know?
Suggestion for the Day: Sit quietly and repeat breath, body, needs. What arises? Or choose one of the three words and focus on what arises when you say breath, and breathe; when you say body, and pay attention to where you actually are, or when you say needs, and connect with what you really need in that moment.