I’m a rather impatient person by nature.
My life has often moved at an unsustainable speed. And when it has, I see the effects immediately — I’m more easily agitated, terse in my responses, and rush towards decisions, big and small. My thoughts, both the frequency and pace of them, start pulsing at an erratic rhythm. Think head-pounding EDM beat.
When I first started meditating five years ago, I almost “gave up” several times, ironically from the very frustration that I was hoping meditation would mitigate – my impatience. Some frustrating thoughts included but were not limited to: Why the hell am I not zen yet? I could be working right now. When will I start feeling the effects? Is this working yet? Relax. RELAX!
Luckily, I had great teachers who helped me build a strong foundation in mindfulness and guided me to observe the thoughts that were arising — without judgment! — and let them go.
One of those teachers, Sharon Salzberg writes, “The key in letting go is practice. Each time we let go, we disentangle ourselves from our expectations and begin to experience things as they are.”
The irony was not lost on me. So I kept on showing up to my cushion and realized all those frustrating thoughts were actually my impatience manifesting into patterns.
Meditation, I knew now, was almost a trial run on how to deal with your emotions, safely in a cushion far away from the real world. How awesome is that? Once I started settling in and doing that very act of letting go, not being so fixated on the very zen I was trying to feel, I felt it.
I started noticing, little by little, how I was becoming more gentle and kind — both on and off the cushion, towards myself and others.
It was wild to see this newly found muscle of patience pulse in real life.
Have you ever had that moment when you go to the gym and you train and work out and just when you’re about to give up, you feel your strength? You can suddenly do that last bicep curl or run a little further? Well, right in those moments when I started hearing that EDM beat again, I took a deep breath and flexed that patience.
What did that look like? It meant me inserting space into my life that I hadn’t before, in big and small ways — whether that was waiting on making executive decisions at work, or allowing for a moment of discomfort during a challenging conversation.
And so I kept at it. Sit by sit. Breath by breath. And one day I asked myself: Am I patient?
It seemed like my default rhythm was less Ariana Grande and more Lumineers now — all because of the simple act of sitting and loving my breath.
When you think about it, it only took a few months to begin re-wiring a lifetime’s worth of behavioral patterns. Even for the most impatient, I would say those are pretty fast results.
Kim Thai is an Emmy-award winning producer, yoga teacher and meditation guide. She is the founder of Ganesh, a media company dedicated to creating equality by making holistic wellness accessible for all.