You’re standing in line at the grocery store, and once again, you managed to pick the slowest one. You tap your foot, check the time, look behind you and worry about other lines moving more quickly than yours. You’re stuck waiting and there’s nothing you can do. “Arrghh! Just my luck!”, you mutter.
Once in a blue moon, you luck out. You hear the announcement, “No waiting in Line 1.” Yes!!! And now you’re so happy!
With just the tiniest shift in perspective, you could experience this same ‘no waiting’ bliss, anytime, anywhere.
But, first, consider how much of your time is spent waiting.
There are the little things that happen every day. We wait:
- for the bus
- in line at the store
- for a light to change
- for the bell to ring
- for break time
- for a friend to arrive
- for someone to leave
The feeling of waiting is usually drenched in frustration, irritation and berating ourselves and others. This feeling of being ‘stuck’ is not pleasant!
But, if you are already there, and if Being is the most important thing, what is ‘waiting’? You are somewhere… Being, always.
Waiting is not a less valuable time than any other time. It presents us with all the opportunities to challenge ourselves, accept reality and be peaceful and compassionate…with ourselves or others.
And while your days are dotted with tiny waiting events, a lifetime may appear to be gouged with chunks of months or years of waiting.
It’s no wonder that “waiting” is so deeply ingrained in our perspective. We’ve been doing this since we were small children.
Wow, I can’t wait! Life will be great when…
- I can ride the bus to school!
- I get to play on the big kids playground!
- I’m tall enough to ride the roller coaster!
- I can drive!
- I graduate from high school!
Aha, what about right now? Aren’t these those days you were waiting for, not too long ago!
So, what are you waiting for now? A job? A new love? A child to be born? A child to move out? A project to be completed? Or started? Better friends? A promotion? A better schedule? Someone to notice your achievements?
Now is Good Enough for Me
The feeling of waiting is based on deciding that now is somehow not good enough, and that some time in the future will be better. Waiting only happens when there is a lack of gratitude for the present.
Every day is good enough. Every day is filled with challenges and frustrations, amazingly beautiful easy moments and confusing, difficult puzzles. That’s life! Don’t wait for it to change!
Now is the Perfect Time
If you’re ready to stop waiting, consider how can you transform these days into precious moments of Being. Of Being something special. Finish the sentence:
“Now is the perfect time to…”
For example, if you are waiting for a child in your life, this is a good time to do no-kid things like work strange hours, travel and go out at night!
If you’re waiting for a kid to grow up, this is a good time to do kid things. Think about it. You’re going to look creepy going to KiddieLand, riding the little boats and ringing the bell if you’re alone! So enjoy it with your little kids.
Instead of feeling like you’re waiting for something, remember that you are already here! You have already arrived! Do now, what you’d been waiting to do! Be now, what you’ve been waiting to be!
If you are alone and waiting for a partner to come into your life, use this time to tune in to your inner state. Pour on the gratitude and feel yourself filled with peace. Take bubble baths. Crank up the music you love! Now is the time to take that art class, start an exercise program or catch up on your reading. Find ways to enjoy being yourself, without relying on others to cheer you up.
If your life is overflowing with the demands of others, now is the time to bask in their company. Soon enough, this situation will change. Consider how you can be compassionate, joyful, and peaceful in your interactions. What creative solutions can I bring to how I relate to others? Now is the perfect time to develop the skills of managing the balance between nurturing self and others in a hectic situation.
Making a Mini-Oasis
In 2010, I was teaching English to adults in Korea. Most of the teachers and students rushed to arrive just before the 6:50 am starting time. One month, my classroom changed so as I ran to class, I’d pass the classroom of my friend and fellow teacher, Eun Ha.
She taught beginners that were taking their first timid step into conversational English class. Instead of arriving in the nick of time, Eun Ha arrived early so she had about 15 minutes of free time before class.
She spent that time sitting in her class with any students that arrived early. She asked them their music preferences, and searched for tunes that she and her students liked. She and the students could be heard chatting and laughing, with music in the background most mornings.
On our way rushing up the stairs, other teachers and I found it irresistible to pass the room without stopping in. I’d greet teacher and students, and bounce off to class energized. Later I found out that many of her students had rarely if ever talked to a ‘foreigner’ before.
Her carefully designed 15-minutes prior to class helped instill confidence in her beginner speakers, helped her enjoy her morning, and boosted the spirits of all of us who passed.
This is a masterful way to transform the few minutes before class into the ‘no waiting’ bliss of Being!!
- Tomorrow, notice how many times you feel that you are stuck waiting for a few minutes here and there. Make a list of these times. Then consider how you can shift your perspective to fully enjoy these moments. Can you transform a few minutes delay into a mini-vacation?
- Past: “I’m waiting for…” Big Things List
The next day, think about the Big Things in your past. Make a list of all those things that you now have or do…things that you once waited for. Review your list. Consider, did these things make your life happier or easier? If yes, then you can be grateful. If no, then is it wise to pin your future happiness on other similar goals?
- Current: “I’m waiting for” Big Things List
The next day, make a list of the things you are now waiting for in the bigger scheme of life. For each item on the list, consider, did any of these items have similar versions in the past, that you have already completed?
- The Perfect Time
The fourth day, ask yourself, is it possible to view this period as that ‘perfect time’ in your life? Is there something unique about this time, that allows you to Be alone or with others in a special way? Brainstorm ways that you can feel blissful about this time of your life.
“It’s not uncommon for people to spend their whole life
waiting to start living.”
- Eckhart Tolle
There was something about eating at the movies that seemed like a free pass. At home, there’s no way I would have made myself a huge bucket of popcorn and poured artificially-colored yellow motor oil on it. (Buckets at home were used for cleaning up …the other way.) And at home I never conjured a 2-quart bucket-ette of Coca-Cola, or sat down with a box of Red Vines for myself.
I also never ate Good & Plenty’s anywhere but the theatre. And I never bought huge, expensive but surprisingly empty boxes of Raisinettes, except there. And as theater movie evolved, I’d try just about anything. Rolo ice cream. Nachos, you name it.
Paying exorbitant prices for it and eating it in the dark, in my mind, somehow paid the price up front. So, I didn’t think about the calories or crappy ingredients. I settled into my seat in the dark, and ate and ate and drank without thinking about it. It was magical.
That is, until I joined a weight loss support group (PRISM).
In that program we committed to eating only nutritious food, in various phases and stages. And we wrote down everything we ate and computed the caloric and other values. Really, it was the other way around. We computed the calories, then decided what to eat.
At first, this totally ruined the moviegoing experience for me. Knowing that I couldn’t eat all that stuff and having been so conditioned to do it, I couldn’t concentrate on the movie itself. I kept looking around for something to stuff in my mouth or sip on. At first.
But about halfway through the first movie, I realized that this new way was not a prison. It was freedom.
How many times have you been biting into a warm, gooey snack just as they pan to the scene of the recently found murder victim. Ewwwww!
Or, the vampire is sucking blood from her neck, just as you realize the last sip on your straw is the icy bottom of your monster Sprite. Eck!
Without food in the movie theater, the experience is refreshingly about seeing the movie.
This is what doing things mindfully means. It’s not a preachy, boring way to live. It’s the opposite. It’s the liberated, totally alive way to experience what you’re actually doing. Sure, have a little food just for fun now and then. But as a way of life, it’s not very fulfilling. (Just filling!)
I was almost a little upset with peacemaker Thich Nhat Hanh, the prolific Buddhist monk. He wrote the book (with Dr. Lilian Cheungh) that I wanted to write next:
I’m okay with it though, haha! It’s a message that can’t be stated enough or in too many ways.
Eating mindfully is part of our spiritual path. That means when we’re noticing what the heck we’re eating, we’re going to make better choices for ourselves and the planet. And you’re going to avoid any more of those moments when blood is dripping on the screen, just as a glop of nacho cheese lands on your chin.
Here is a sample of favorite inspirational teachers that took me by the hand and guided me. On your journey, reach out to these and other authors, support groups and classes that fit your life! Find a teacher who was learned to overcome the problems that you want to solve.
These writers have helped me learn what my inner circle of family and friends mostly did not know, or else, we all began learning together. These authors have written several books each. I list one or two of the more well-known titles, but peruse and you may find something that more directly suits you.
You Can Heal Your Life
101 Power Thoughts
Lack of self love is the root of all of our problems, Louise explains. Her sweet voice comes through in her stories, affirmations and insights, like that wise, loving older sister we could all benefit from. For a simple overall affirmation series, listen to 101 Power Thoughts morning and night.
Loving What Is
I Need Your Love, Is it True?
Ms. Katie provides four simple questions to help us unravel the rationale we use to make ourselves miserable! Listen to the audio to hear real-life examples of how this process works. This is a simple system you can apply daily to help you laugh at your serious side, and enjoy life more.
Mindfulness for Beginners: Reclaiming the Present Moment and Your Life
Guided Mindfulness Meditation Series
Jon Kabat-Zinn has a way of writing and talking to beginners in a manner that is inviting and convincing. Try a slim book or an audio CD. If ‘meditation’ sounds too daunting, try a book on ‘mindfulness’ for starters.
Codependent No More: How to Stop Controlling Others and Start Caring For Yourself
This is one of those books I listened to in my car. I laughed so hard as Beattie described standard manipulation and guilt tactics that we often use, but are ineffective and often damaging. The humorous part is that I never realized I was doing it, that I could stop, or how much fun life would be without it. I came across this as part of my Al-Anon work, but would recommend it to anyone. As kids, we are all dependent. Maturing and becoming interdependent adults, rather than codependent, usually requires some conscientious retraining. This and other books by Beattie are spot on!
The Subtle Body: An Encyclopedia of Your Energetic Anatomy
Did you know that cultures around the world have remarkably similar descriptions of the human body’s subtle system? Call it chakras or meridians. Use Kabbalah or native American terminology, but cultures agree that there is more to our health than meets the eye. This illustrated book is stunning in its breadth, insights and beauty.
Dr. Daniel Amen
Change Your Brain, Change Your Life
Dr. Amen’s many books give you a glimpse into how our brain works. His approach is to consider faulty brains, in the same non-judgmental way we’d consider someone with tennis elbow, or a persistent slight limp. Brain issues are often fixable and can be the root cause of many problems in your life.
The Power of Now
A New Earth
After sitting on park benches for a couple years, Mr. Tolle finally understood something that he’d been missing in his earlier life. Eckhart Tolle shares his insights about how the only time we ever have is right now. If you’re not a big fan of self-help books, try Guardians of Being, the book that combines pet illustrations from Mutts comic strip artist with Tolle quotes. Learning the power of now from dogs and cats might be our most direct route!
His Holiness the Dalai Lama
How to Practice: The Way to a Meaningful Life
How to See Yourself as You Really Are
The Dalai Lama, winner of the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize, has written dozens of books that relate Buddhist teachings to the social ills of modern Western society. The Dalai Lama retains that joyful, little-kid way of relating to people that is irresistible to me.
How to Meditate with Pema Chodron: A Practical Guide to Making Friends with Your Mind
Did you know that when people first try to meditate, instead of quieting their thoughts, it’s common for people to curse themselves and get angry about it! Well, this is obviously the wrong reaction. Pema Chodron talks about this and instructs beginners to go for gentle amusement rather than any level of achievement. Her voice reflects this. Try an audio CD and hang out with Pema, to experience it yourself.
Thich Nhat Hanh
Peace is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life
Savor: Mindful Eating, Mindful Life
Thich Nhat Hanh has written 100 books, and 40 available in English, so you have many to choose from! He has great ways to show how to experience deep meditative ways in everyday experiences: walking, in the garden or at mealtime. In addition, he writes directly to children, and about social work andenvironmentalism as different aspects of mindful living. Savor, with Dr. Lilian Cheung, makes the link between eating and mindfulness.
Gay Hendricks, Kathlyn Hendricks
Attracting Authentic Love
This pocket-sized book and audio present an easy way to get yourself ready for a mature, healthy relationship. It gives you a solid foundation for authentic love through: listening to your body, clearing conditioning from your past, and considering what factors a healthy partner needs.
How to Be an Adult in Relationships: The Five Keys to Mindful Loving
Richo presents an approach that feels calm and encouraging. As a Buddhist, marriage counselor, he gives examples of how couples tend to recreate the circumstances of our childhood, and how to accept that and work through that and evolve with your partner. His five A’s system recommends that loving relationships need: Attention, Appreciation, Affection, Allowing, and Acceptance. Would your partner be up for working through this (or a similar book) with you?
Living in the Light
It was from reading Shakti Gawain’s Creative Visualization that I solved a recurring afternoon problem I had with my toddler, years ago. This was my first taste of learning a skill from an author, that my friends and family didn’t know. Shakti Gawain has continued to write helpful, insightful books on healing, energy, grief and living large spiritually.
When will you
Most of these are included in my Amazon.com Listmania List:
The door opens and he strides in. Always, like a benevolent king.
“Just lentils,” I say apologetically, as he walks past.
I hear the door of his room close. A few minutes later he comes out.
“Sistah Joan…,” he steps into the doorway softly.
“Lentils?,” I offer.
I choose the ceramic bowl, with the glaze dripping azure and Garden-of-the-Gods red.
He takes it with two hands. He closes his eyes, and with his nose over the bowl, takes in the full essence with a deep breath. Then another.
“Ah, bless… .” He shakes his head, “Lentils, Sistah Joan!”