The Lifelong Practice of Mindfulness

"The subtle process of mindfulness is a lifelong practice and most of us experience any number of slipups as we slowly progress. But with gentle, persistent effort, we stay the course. The serene and peaceful mind that is developed through mindfulness and reflection can find pleasure in its own patience. Those who think of patience as weakness and see anger as strength will be in for quite a revelation. In order for us to practice patience, we must have courage, wisdom, and a loving, compassionate heart. We must be wise enough to address disagreement with intelligence and thoughtfulness. We come to understand patience as noble and valiant. We discover that if we want to live in a more peaceful world we must develop a more peaceful world within. We must nurture love and compassion for ourselves as well as for other beings."

Create a Pause

"Patience is born when we create a pause between our experience of a feeling and our response to that feeling. Without a pause we are likely to find ourselves reacting in our conditioned manner. After all, that is what conditioning is. With a pause there is at least the possibility of a more positive response, and certainly we are less likely to cause harm. Patience lives in the gap between our experience of an event and our response to that experience. If we spend time with our experience — the thoughts, feelings, and sensations that arise — we can gain insight. Wisdom arises as we see things with greater clarity. Forgiveness has space to develop; fires have a chance to cool. "

Develop Listening Skills

"Honor your relationships by developing listening skills. When conversations are becoming heated, stop and ask the other person if you have heard them correctly, and repeat the words you heard as accurately as you can. This creates a situation in which you must focus on what has actually been said and offers the other an opportunity to evaluate whether they actually said what they intended to say. It also slows down the dialogue, which can allow things to cool a bit. "

Patience Takes Patience

"Khanti is the Pall word that means 'patience.' It also implies resolve and endurance as well as determination and commitment. Some things simply need time. The human mind is a perfect example. For an impatient mind to mature into a patient one takes time, perhaps quite a bit of time. If for thirty years we have tended to easily become impatient it is unlikely that we will now develop a depth of patience in thirty minutes, and probably not in thirty days. That does not mean, however, that we cannot take significant steps in just thirty seconds. When our motivation is stimulated and we make the decision to seriously address our impatience and anger — that can be a monumental, life-changing moment."

Practicing Patience

"This is an exercise designed to repeatedly bring the word patience to mind. You are not likely to need patience while doing any of these daily activities. You will be training the mind in a way similar to how we train the muscles of the body. In most cases it will be best to use only one of these exercises per day:

"• If you send a lot of e-mails, every time you are about to press the Send button, think,patience.
• If you make phone calls regularly throughout the day, just before you dial, think, patience.
• While reading the newspaper, as you are about to turn each page, think, patience.
• At meals, as you are bringing the fork to your mouth, think, patience;
or each time you bring a glass to your lips, think,patience.
• Every time you are about to touch a handle to open a door, think, patience.
• Every time you are going to stand up, think, patience.
• Every time you are about to sit down, think, patience.
• Every time you change the channel on the television, think, patience."

The Greatest Gift

"I think the greatest gift any of us can offer to another is our complete presence. It is astonishing how many people go through life without anyone who truly listens to them. To become one who listens deeply, without judgment, without offering advice, without the need to be anything but fully, consciously present, is to become a great gift to all who cross your path. You might be the first person to actually listen to the human being who is speaking to you. You can, in such moments, change a life. When a life changes, the world changes."
Pocket Peace

Let Me Think About That

"Work this sentence (or a similar one) into your conversations, especially when there is a disagreement: 'Let me think about that.'

"This simple statement can prevent us from making quick decisions that we might regret, or from speaking while angry, which we'll surely regret. It also sends a message that we care enough about the other person that we want to take time to consider what they've said."
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Praise Others

"Each day for two weeks, sincerely praise others' words or deeds.

"The key to this practice is sincerity. Since it may be difficult to admire the actions of some, start with people you like and work your way up to those you find difficult. Eventually, you will be able to find something worth praising in the actions of just about everyone. It is a way to be in the world that benefits you and those around you."
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Let Someone Off the Hook

"Consider letting someone off the hook for a deed they committed or harsh words they spoke.

"Look deeply within for any bitterness or residual anger that you may still harbor toward that person. Even when someone is long out of our lives or even deceased, we may be holding resentment toward them. Who is being hurt by those feelings? Resolve that it's time to let that negativity go. If you've been holding resentment for a long time, it may take a while to release it, but stay the course with gentle firmness. Ultimately, you will be able to take a deep breath and enjoy your new freedom. Remember, we cannot have a better past, but we can usually have a better present."
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The Gift of Food

"Recite the five contemplations below before each meal. . . .

"Reciting these five contemplations helps bring awareness to the gift of food and our relationship to it. Eating is a joyful activity in which we are fortunate to partake. That is not the case in much of the world. Try saying the contemplations to yourself if you are eating alone, or sharing them with others just before you begin a meal. You may find people thanking you.

This food is the gift of the whole universe — the earth, the sky, and much loving work.
May we eat mindfully and be grateful to receive this food.
May we eat with moderation.
May we eat foods that promote health and prevent illness.
May this food nourish us along the path of understanding and love.
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Not Destroying Your Own Peace

"Find a place where you can feel completely at ease and say to yourself, Only I can destroy my peace, and I choose not to do so.

"When performing this practice, locate a place where you will be able to sink deeply into the sensations of peace and calm. A park, a body of water, a garden, and the mountains are excellent choices. Being completely relaxed on a sofa can work well also. Do this practice daily for five minutes for one week, repeating the phrase until you own it. Over time it will become easier to quickly recognize when inner peace is abandoning you, and then you can do the practice again for a few days. When disruption arises around you, you'll have it handy: Only I can destroy my peace, and I choose not to do so."
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Sending E-mails

"Before clicking the send button on the e-mails you write, stop, close your eyes, and breathe for a few seconds.

"It is an excellent practice to reread each e-mail before sending it and make sure it contains nothing you might later regret having said. Let thoughts like What is my intention? and Am I being considerate? go through your mind. If the e-mail can be changed to better reflect the person you want to be, make the changes. The whole process doesn't have to take a long time. Besides, it is unlikely that you would have something more important to do. Even your e-mails should reflect your true self."
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Don't Hold Grudges

"Don't hold grudges — find a way to forgive.

"Look to the great teachers for inspiration. Jesus of Nazareth suffered excruciating pain and chose to forgive his tormenters. The Dalai Lama and the Zen monk Thich Nhat Hanh see all people as their friends, even those who have treated them poorly. Follow their example. Find a way to let the other person off the hook, even if you think they don't deserve it. Do it for you. If you are determined to keep an open heart and be a loving presence in the world, you will be able to do it. You may even find that it gets easier with practice."
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