Given the option, who wouldn't prefer to move through the humdrum administrative tasks of our daily lives (buying groceries, commuting to and from work, putting gas in the car/air in our tires) as quickly as possible? Don't we all desire to move past the mundane and on to other, more enjoyable pursuits? After all, waiting is not only inconvenient, it can even cost money and hinder our health. But if we are committed to living mindfully, we must acknowledge these activities are as much a part of our lives as spending time with friends and loved ones or pursuing our passions.
To help us integrate this understanding, we can flex our mindfulness muscles through simple exercises as we go through our day. Among the most commonly prescribed practices to help us move past our reflexive impatience and experience the present moment fully is simple: choose to stand in the longest, slowest line. Whether buying groceries, checking out at a retail store, purchasing movie tickets, or waiting at the car wash, there are no shortage of opportunities to wait in line.
Next time you find yourself faced with a decision among lines, instead of calculating which option would enable the most expedient exit, choose to experience a delay. Then simply observe what feelings come up. Rather than fuming about how much time is being wasted, or agitating about where else you could or should be, or furiously scanning your phone for some activity that would redeem the time you are losing, try taking a deep breath and notice the people in line in front of you. You might be surprised to notice a familiar face, or find empathy for the customer counting out her payment in pennies, or simply appreciate the opportunity to stand still, knowing the pressure is off you to take any action to alter the outcome.
Give this time-honored mindfulness practice a try and see how it changes your perspective...