There is a story about catching monkeys in India. When monkey hunters go out to catch monkeys, they use coconuts. First they cut a
hole in one end of a coconut, just large enough for a monkey’s hand to go through, and place a banana in the coconut. They then drill holes through the “eyes” of the coconut, attach a wire through the holes and sit behind a tree with the other end of the wire in their hands and wait for a monkey. The monkey thrusts its hand into the coconut and grabs the banana. When the monkey’s hand is tight in a fist around the banana, it is now too big to pull back through the hole. The monkey tries and tries but no matter how hard it tries, it cannot get its hand out of the coconut with the banana. There is a really simple solution which you might have already noticed - letting go of the banana. But the monkey never does that and as a result it is captured. The only thing standing between the monkey and freedom is “letting go.”
Often our minds get caught in very much the same way in spite of all our intelligence. We may not be able to let go of the fact that we are not where we want to be. Things are not happening fast enough. We start to think like the child in the back seat, “Are we there yet?” This can happen when traveling, waiting in line or a waiting room, waiting for someone or even with our self.
Being extremely impatient (and always wanting things immediately) is not only a surefire way to annoy your coworkers, fellow shoppers, and perhaps drive a wedge between you and your spouse, it's also bad for your health. Researchers from three universities followed 3,142 young adults for 13 years and found people who had a high sense of time urgency and impatience (TUI) were more likely to develop high blood pressure (hypertension). "The higher the tendency of time urgency and impatience, the higher the risk of developing hypertension," said lead researcher Dr. LeJingh Yan in a CNN.com article.
The fuel that feeds impatience is of course selfishness, things are not happening as fast as we want them to. When we start to feel the itch of impatience we scratch it with anger, frustration, and even fear.
It is a simple process to cultivate a patient, waiting frame of mind.
- Learn and practice Acceptance. Let go of the fact that you are not where you want to be and accept the fact that you are where
you are. Allow things to unfold in their own time. You cannot rush a flower.
- During your formal mindfulness practice “tag” impatient thoughts that come to mind, such as “I wonder how much longer this is going to take, how long have I been doing this”. You “tag” a thought just by taking note of it and giving it a label (this is impatience).
- While you are waiting for something to happen go into “first time mode” look at your surroundings as if you are seeing them for the first time. Look closely at things, people and the events that are taking place around you. Use your mindfulness skills to stay in the moment.
- Stop using devices such as radios, computers, and cell phones just to fill up mental time. These things are addictive and as a result you will become even more impatient when they are not available. Use your free mental time productively by developing your thinking artfully skills.
- Test your patience, choose the longest line.