Patience is a virtue that can be hard to recover when you’re trapped in rush-hour traffic or stuck in a long line at the bank.
In Patience: The Art of Peaceful Living, Allan Lokos explains how to practice, develop and build patience amidst life’s emotional ups and downs.
“There’s nothing wrong with anger. There’s nothing wrong with impatience,” he tells NPR’s John Donvan. “The problem is do we act when we’re experiencing impatience? Do we act when we’re experiencing anger? That’s where the problems can arise.”
Lokos, founder and guiding teacher at The Community Meditation Center in New York, talks with Donvan about how to practice the art of patience in various aspects of life.
On the risks of acting while angry
“It’s acting when we are angry that can really lead us into a lot of trouble. The key is to be in touch with what we are experiencing as early as possible, let’s say as in the examples that you used, if we’re stuck in traffic or our boss is acting in a way that’s idiotic, we will experience the arising of impatience or anger.
“But if we can exercise patience just for a moment or two, we’re much, much less likely to say or to do something that we’re going to regret.”
On the virtue of patience as a constantly morphing experience
“So many … of us have a tendency to categorize ourself this way and say, ‘I’m an impatient person.’ A statement like that is always going to be inaccurate because as science has now proven, we are constantly changing. … If we say, to this point, ‘I’ve experienced a lot of impatience,’ that could be accurate.”
On being patient with family members
“My research that I did before writing this book certainly shows that families are tricky areas for most of us. We speak about our buttons being pushed. It’s our families who installed those buttons. So … they can be problematic areas.
“Our children are great teachers because they’re going to bring out our impatience.”
On growing older and being patient
“The body is changing … and sometimes we can become very angry at our own body, impatient with ourselves. And I think it’s very important to realize that is the nature of the body: Everything is changing. The body is changing. So why not go with that so that we don’t go to the finish line just resisting and unhappy, but going with what is natural order instead?”
On ways to spread the peace of patience
“It’s amazing what just a kind word or a smile does, you know? We just need to realize what it does for us if someone just looks back and holds the door for us for a moment or just says, ‘Hi, how are you doing?’ That … can change our outlook for the entire day. It’s so great to offer that and to receive that.”
ALLAN LOKOS is the founder and guiding teacher of The Community Meditation Center. He is the author of the best seller, Patience: The Art of Peaceful Living and Pocket Peace: Effective Practices for Enlightened Living.
His writing has appeared in The Huffington Post, Tricycle magazine, and Beliefnet, and he has been interviewed by The New York Times, The Chicago Tribune, and on more than fifty radio and TV programs.
Among the places he has taught are Columbia University Teachers College, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Marymount College, The Barre Center for Buddhist Studies, The Rubin Museum (Brainwave Series), NY Insight Meditation Center, The NY Open Center, Tibet House USA, and Insight Meditation Community of Washington.