My document disappeared! The Internet is down. The printer only pumps out blank pages. Frustration! Impatience! Stress hormones rising! What to do?
It’s time for The Pause. Impatience is inside us. Technology is outside. In moments of impatience, pause, and bring your attention to your breath: Breathe in, breathe out. Try three long slow breaths, noticing the breath and nothing else.
Pausing, even for three breaths, before reacting to a difficult situation is a form of patience. Patience includes perseverance and acceptance of truth. And it also allows us to not return harm, rather than merely enduring a difficult situation. It helps us control our emotions even when we are deeply frustrated.
A pause may also give us a better understanding of the situation and our intentions within it. At the very least it will reduce our stress level, calm us down. And maybe help us reflect on the truth of the moment: What is so terrible about waiting a few minutes for the net to return? Maybe we need to look at how we’ve overscheduled ourselves, or what it is we are trying to prove by doing so much in one day. Learn to recognize the signs.
Remember that it is not worth the racing cortisol (the hormone effective for escaping a tiger, but not for coping with a lost document). And then, pause and breathe.
Mirabai Bush is a co-founder of the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society and served as Executive Director until 2008.
Her latest audio work, Working with Mindfulness (More Than Sound), offers guided mindfulness exercises for the workplace to help reduce stress, increase productivity, and encourage creative problem solving.
This blog post originally appeared in the Huffington Post. Read the original post.