Mindfulness and Patience

Reading through my mindfulness books last weekend, I came across a chapter in “Wherever You Go, There You Are – Mindfulness Meditation for Everyday Life” Jon Kabat-Zinn about the importance of patience which resonated strongly with me for a couple of reasons.

Firstly: the time of year.  We are now in February and the days are gradually getting longer, suggesting the warmer days of Spring and Summer.  I find that I get impatient and want these days to come more quickly so that I can start planting out my vegetable garden.  I have already planned what I want to grow and where.  However I know that if I plant seeds inside now, they won’t do any better than if I had waited a bit longer – in fact they may even struggle.


Jon Kabat-Zinn reminds us “That seasons cannot be hurried.  Spring comes, the grass grows by itself.  Being in a hurry usually doesn’t help and it can create a great deal of suffering – sometimes in us, sometimes in those who have to be around us.”


Secondly: with the start of a New Year, many of us made resolutions to “improve” ourselves over the coming year.  After six weeks we think that we should be making progress with these resolutions or impatient with ourselves that we gave up after the initial flush of enthusiasm.


Kabat-Zinn identifies this feeling too.  “Scratch the surface of impatience and what you will find lying underneath it, subtly or not so subtly, is anger.  It’s the strong energy of not wanting things to be the way they are and blaming someone (often yourself) or something for it.”  He identifies patience as “an ever present alternative to the mind’s endemic restlessness and impatience.”


So, learning from Jon Kabat-Zinn, I am reminding myself, through my mindfulness practice and into everyday life, to cultivate patience, to be aware of every present moment and accept it for whatever it is – dark, cold and foggy or bright, sunny and frosty.  I accept myself for what I am and what I have achieved and I don’t judge or get bogged down in critical thoughts about whether I have succeeded or not.


As Kabat-Zinn says “If you cultivate patience, you almost can’t help cultivating mindfulness, and your meditation practice will gradually become richer and more mature.  After all, if you really aren’t trying to get anywhere else in this moment, patience takes care of itself.  It is a remembering that things unfold in their own time.”


Suzanne Fysh,  7 February 2017