PATIENCE AND MINDFULNESS
Posted on January 12th, 2020

Dr. Daya Hewapathirane

Patience means the ability to endure and tolerate difficult situations in life and to maintain calmness in the face of life’s hardships, frustrations, adversity and suffering. It means the capacity to endure varied vicissitudes of life without being impetuous and hasty. Also, it means the   capacity to accept or tolerate delay, difficulty, or annoyance without getting angry or upset. Patience is essential to daily life and can be a key to a happy one. Patient people enjoy better mental and physical health. They tend to experience less of negative emotions, because they can cope better with upsetting or stressful situations. Studies reveal that people with patience tend to be more content with their lives and less depressed. Patience helps to protect us from the damaging health effects brought about by stress.

People who exhibit impatience and irritability tend to have more health complaints. Frequent and excessive impatience, result in increased blood pressure, bringing  about the release of stress-related hormones such as adrenaline, cortisol and leading to increases risk of heart disease. Stress hormones cause stimulation of platelets which may build up and clog arteries, raising the risk of heart attack. Stress hormones also cause the release of fat from the fat cells into the bloodstream which also causes clogging arteries. In addition, it causes many more unhealthy effects including weight gain and high blood sugar. Frequent and excessive impatience can also result in mental disorders such as anxiety and depression. In addition to harmful health effects, impatience has the potential to ruin relationships one has with his/her friends, family or any other people. People tend to avoid impatient people because they are afraid that they might experience negative feelings in dealing with impatient people. Nothing worthwhile can be gained by being impatient in your life.

In general, patient people have always made progress toward their life’s goals and are satisfied with what they have been able to achieve. In relationships patience becomes a form of kindness. Facing annoying people with equanimity is an important type of patience. Patient people tend to be more cooperative, more empathic, more equitable, more accommodative, and more forgiving. Patience enables individuals to tolerate flaws in others, therefore displaying more mercy, forgiveness, compassion and generosity. Patience involves emphatically assuming some personal discomfort to alleviate the suffering of those around us. Patient people are better friends and neighbors. Patience is one the noblest of spiritual qualities. It is the capacity to face  difficulty when it comes, with a spirit of tolerance, endurance, forbearance, strength and dignity, rather than fear, annoyance, resentment, anxiety and avoidance. No one likes to be oppressed or defeated, yet if we can endure oppression and defeat with strength, without being cranky, we are ennobled by it. Patience makes this possible. 

Religious leaders and philosophers have long praised the virtue of patience. The Buddha considered patience to be one of the mental states that an awakened person has perfected. Patience is an act of compassion toward oneself. It gives rise to equanimity or a sublime state of mind which leads to inner peace and well-being. With such as calm state of mind it is easier to ride life’s ups and downs without being tossed about like a boat in a storm. Patience enables one to be better able to focus on, or to be attentive to, or to be mindful of, whatever situation one finds oneself in, or one is confronted with. In other words, patience helps one to sustain one’s mindfulness. Conversely, being mindful or attentive helps one to develop and sustain overall patience.  Mindful living leads to a more fulfilling and grounded life, being able to understand oneself better. Individuals with more mindfulness or attentiveness have greater resilience, thereby increasing their life satisfaction. Mindful people can better cope with difficult thoughts and emotions without becoming overwhelmed or shutting down emotionally. Mindfulness promotes well-being, also promotes self-compassion, which leads to higher levels of happiness. Increased resilience clearly plays a major role in this beneficial equation.

MINDFULNESS

Mindfulness or sati” is an important part of the Buddhist spiritual tradition.  Mindfulness or sati” is the seventh element of the Noble Eightfold Path which encapsulates the principal teachings of the Buddha. Here, mindfulness involves the detached observation of what is happening within us and around us in the present moment without  reacting to it. In the practice of mindfulness meditation, the mind is trained to remain focused on the present moment and to accept one’s thoughts and responses without judgment. It is a mental mode of being engaged in the present moment without evaluating or emotionally reacting to it. Regular mindfulness practice helps to enhance and strengthen the brains ability to pay attention. It helps to increase one’s attention span, memory power, clear and focused thinking. Mindfulness helps us to respond with greater clarity and with a kind heart to whatever situation we find ourselves. Mindfulness weakens the negative or unwholesome state of mind that causes suffering and confusion and strengthens a wholesome state of mind that lead to happiness. It can help us develop a penetrating awareness that open the mind to full awakening.

Jon Kabat-Zinn founded the first Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program in 1979 and is largely credited with introducing mindfulness to the West. Since then, substantial research has demonstrated that mindfulness really does improve our mental and physical health. Today, the “Mindfulness Movement” is growing in popularity, with hospitals, schools, prisons, the military, and many workplaces using this life-changing practice. People from all walks of life are turning to mindfulness as a way to bring openheartedness and well-being to modern life. In today’s fast-paced society, we can turn to mindfulness as way to not just cope, but really thrive in all aspects of our lives. Mindfulness has been clinically proven to reduce stress, promote feelings of wellbeing, and improve mental and physical health. It’s a powerfully transformative quality that helps us develop greater presence and calmness, reduced emotional reactivity, and greater emotional stability. In short, mindfulness puts us back in charge of our own lives.

In mindfulness meditation, one learns and trains oneself to observe thoughts and emotions patiently, without getting carried away by them. Mindfulness is a way of learning to relate directly to whatever is happening in your life, a way of taking charge of your life, a way of consciously and systematically working with your own stress, pain, illness, and the challenges and demands of everyday life. Mindfulness meditation therefore, can be exceptionally powerful in helping us cultivate a new relationship to impatience and stress and opening the door to a life of greater balance, ease, endurance, tolerance, fortitude and joy.

Dr. Daya Hewapathirane[email protected]

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