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Waiting. Not Waiting.

May 12, 2015

I’ve just returned from a two-hour visit to my doctor: 10 minutes of interaction with the doctor, one hour and fifty minutes waiting to be seen. I am glad I was not feeling sick and miserable, or the wait would have felt intolerable. Mine was just a routine check-up to see how I’ve been coping with my allergies this spring. I am in good shape, and the long wait was tolerable.

There was a time I would have spent my long wait fretting and feeling anxious. I would have become increasingly irritable, and my crankiness would have left me fatigued and frustrated. Not a good state of mind for a meaningful office visit. I’ve learned over the years that waiting time is better spent keeping occupied by either diverting my attention (perhaps by reading a few chapters in a detective novel or by writing notes to friends). Sometimes, however, instead of diverting, I choose to focus my attention through meditation.CantignyBuddha

Meditating during a long wait in a doctor’s examination room may seem difficult (it is, at first), but it can be calming. Anger and frustration torment only me. They do not affect the circumstances that have triggered the emotions. And so I acknowledge my feelings, and I meditate.

When I meditate, I begin with simply being. I sit quietly and focus on my breathing.I notice when I inhale and when I exhale. I count my breaths, and I try to exhale longer than I inhale: breathing in 1, 2, 3, 4; breathing out, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. Somehow, making the exhalation longer than the inhalation is calming. I might repeat to myself “breathing in, I know that I am breathing in” and “breathing out, I know that I am breathing out.” My breathing soon slows, and I notice that my busy mind grows quiet. I notice my body relax, one part at a time from top to toe. And, I comment to myself with each stage of relaxation that “breathing out, I feel my jaw relax,” “breathing out, I feel my neck relax,” breathing out, “I feel my shoulders relax,” and so forth, with each exhalation, relaxing from arms, fingers, hips, thighs, calves, feet, and toes.

When my body grows still, I begin to notice the air around me and how it feels on my skin. I see the carpet, the walls, the ceiling, and I acknowledge them and my place within their embrace. I notice the furnishings: chairs, table, desk, every item on the desk, one thing at a time. And I contemplate how each thing I observe has a purpose in the room. I think of how each thing is made, and I reflect on those who made those things. I reflect on the makers’ lives and on the origins of the materials gathered and used to build each object.

From inward observation to outward reflection come peace and acceptance. Waiting ceases to be an annoyance to be endured. With quiet meditation, waiting becomes a welcome opportunity to enjoy peace, a respite from care and worry. And so I become grateful for the respite in my day that waiting has given me. Through meditation, I am no longer waiting. I simply am.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Carol Middleton permalink
    May 13, 2015 6:45 am

    I’ve tried the counting meditation to help me get to sleep, and it helps. But I loved how deep you went, right into the origins of things in the room, and their makers – surely the observational powers of the writer!

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