The Art of Patience

You know the feeling – you’re in a rush to get to the doctor’s office,
work, yoga class or whatever… and the car ahead of you is going slow as
molasses. Honking gets your anger out momentarily, but you’re still
stressed over the delay that this slow-mo elephant is causing you. You’ve got one eye on the road and the other on the dashboard clock, calculating just how late this delay is going to make you.

You want to scream – and maybe you do, within the safe confines of your car. But your stress level is going through the moonroof. It raises your blood pressure, messes with your hormones and rips at your nerves… not good. So what should you do in a scenario like this to avoid road rage and its effects on your well-being?

Try these five easy steps:

1. Reason with yourself
Run the idea through your mind that losing your patience will have absolutely no effect on the final result – other than raising your blood pressure. You’ll still be puttering along just as slowly in your car, but you may also end up with a raspy throat from all that screaming. If you can exercise patience (and deep breathing), however, your anger and frustration will evaporate – and a peaceful feeling will enshroud you instead.

2. Let go
Stop raging over your unfortunate situation. You can’t undo what has already been done. You’re stuck, and you must accept that. Now try to think about the pleasant destination you are trying to reach. Be grateful that you have a job, a yoga class or a doctor to go to in the first place.

3. Unwind
Relax your body. Unclench your jaw muscles, and release those tightened tendons in your back, shoulders and neck. If you can do some gentle stretching exercises, now’s the time.

4. De-frown
Apply the Kundalini yoga practice of observing the third eye. It’s located, cyclops-like, slightly above the midpoint between your eyebrows. (Don’t do this while driving! But if you’re, say, stopped at a light, take 10 to 20 seconds and close your eyes, concentrating on your third eye. It relaxes the muscles in your eyes, your brows and forehead. One fabulous side effect is the decreasing of that vertical frown line you wish you’d never inherited!)

5. Breathe easy
So how is your body reacting so far? If you’re breathing shallowly, consciously try practicing some deep, long breaths (such as those in Ujaye yoga breathing). Unclench your fists. Imagine your body loosening up, like a knot that’s been untied. Breathe into those spaces in your body that feel tight. It’s hard to be impatient when you slow down your breathing.

By the time you’ve completed these exercises, you’ll find yourself a tad more reasonable, and you’ll realize you can be proactive about this delay: Simply call ahead on your cell phone (you’ll need to use hands-free mode, in most states). Advise your boss, doctor, lunch date or whomever that you’re running late. By yielding to the forces that are out of your control, you’ll have given your body permission to relax.

There will be no arriving breathless and stressed at your final destination. People will think of you as mellow (ha – you’ve got them fooled!) and admire your relaxed demeanor. If you apply this technique to any of life’s stressful situations, you’ll find yourself happier – and much more able to let the day’s numerous annoyances flow down your back.

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