Author and Mindfulness teacher/practitioner Jon Kabat-Zinn is part of the Master Class series currently online. In watching, he mentioned different attitudes or habits that can get in our way of being mindful, of being fully aware in the present moment or experience. One attitude he mentioned that can get in the way is impatience. He spoke of impatience as the attitude or feeling that communicates “let’s hurry and get through this now “. Sometimes it can seem to others, that this moment for the impatient person isn’t as good as something coming up after this. It can feel like the future is more enjoyable than this right now moment, which if we spend a lot of time with an impatient person, they are rarely satisfied.That doesn’t feel too good to be around. It seems always about what is “next”.
Jon described impatience as a form of abuse, to ourselves, and the others in our orbit who are on the receiving end. That was a fresh way of thinking about impatience. He mentioned impatience can be harsh for others to experience, especially in a repetitive way, when that is someone’s habitual attitude. It is hard to relax around impatient people. We can get triggered. We may feel rushed so we do not ask the questions we need to ask or take the time needed to fully understand something or have the time to savor the unexpected because impatience doesn’t allow for that. Kabat-Zinn suggested there can be a type of violence in the impatience, as an attitude in terms of how it lands on others. He was asking us to be aware and notice when we might feel impatient, or be with someone impatient, and how did that attitude affect our ability to be present in the moment.
It is interesting to be thinking about impatience in this way. Some of us have moments of impatience, but it might not be our primary response and attitude. A more constantly impatient person may see themselves as quicker to comprehend things or faster to get something accomplished. And that attitude brings in judgment and comparison of the moment and experience. We all judge, yet it is how we respond. Do we act on it? One way would be impatience.
Reflecting on impatience, might come some sense of “I know. I know”. Maybe the “expert” gets impatient with those learning on a subject they have been immersed for years. Jon Kabat-Zinn said he doesn’t consider himself a Master. This is a non-Master class in his mind. He spoke to the idea of an expert can get limited and closed off to new ideas or considering new information or maybe even seeing what is right there because they have shut the door on some things figuring they know versus keeping open curiosity. That is beginners mind. We look and experience as though a beginner and our first thoughts. And in that place there is less room for impatience.