This week’s exercise was to practice mindfulness while waiting.
David is late again. We’re planning to go out together to get some dinner when he gets home, but he’s running late. I’m waiting for him, and waiting, and waiting, and I begin to get anxious and upset. Adeline is hungry and she’s getting cranky. I want to be ready as soon as he gets home, so we’re already in our coats and shoes, but it’s hot in the house and since she’s cranky she’s making me hold her and I’m getting sweaty and gross. I pace back and forth and look out the back door every few seconds to see if he’s home yet. But he’s not. My heart starts beating faster and my chest is tight. I start to go over and over all of the reasons why I’m anxious and of course that just makes me more anxious. Soon I’ll start swearing under my breath and Adeline will sense that I’m upset and she’ll get upset and things will just spiral. Yes, I have a problem with patience.
But then it hits me: this is my mindfulness exercise for the week! I’m waiting and now is exactly the time to take some mindful breaths and calm down. And I do. I take a few mindful breaths and feel my chest loosen up and my heart slow down. The ache in my stomach that I hadn’t even noticed through my stress starts to dissipate. I unzip my coat and feel myself cooling down. OK, so I’m still impatient and I’m still checking the backdoor every so often, but things are definitely better.
The lesson from the book is to rejoice in time spent waiting because it is extra time to practice mindfulness. I don’t know that I’m at the point of rejoicing quite yet, but I do see the value. And that’s the first step.
This week’s exercise is “Loving eyes: endeavor to look at things and people with loving eyes.”