Jennifer Westcott, MA, LMFT | Blog
Can Impatience Be Turned Into Inner Peace?
Standing in line, stuck in traffic, waiting in a doctor’s office; all of these situations can cause great anxiety and frustration. The stagnant time and inactivity can rev our system into a fury. We often get into the pattern of thought that tells us, “My time could be spent doing something more important than this!” I want to challenge that thought. Is it possible to use these moments to go inward and establish a moment of inner peace?

Take for instance standing in line. The next time you are waiting in line somewhere try this activity of getting in touch with your breathing and our body, all the while releasing anxiety.


This exercise is a tensing and releasing of muscle groups in combination with four count breathing. All tensing and releasing should be done to the count of four. Repeat breathing after each release.

· Start with curling your toes inward to the count of four and then release.

· Breathe in through your nose to the count of four and then out to the count of four.

· Tense the muscles in your right leg from your calves through your glutes.

· Repeat the four count breathing. Notice where your breath goes and how your abdomen rises and falls with the breath.

· Tense the muscles in your left leg from your calves through your glutes.

· Notice the tension starting to fade with each release.

· Tighten the abdominal muscles as if you where pulling your belly button closer to your spine.

· Release and repeat breathing.

· If you are not holding something in your hands, crease your arms upward as if you were curling dumbbells, squeezing your bicep muscles. Let your arms fall back to your side.

· Again, if nothing is in your hand, squeeze your hands into fists. Release.

· Moving up to the shoulders and back, squeeze your shoulder blades together and release.

· Gently move your shoulders up toward your ears and release.

· Feel the tension fade and a sense of calm increase.

· The last step is to scrunch your face up like you just ate a very sour lemon, using your nose, your lips, your forehead, and even your ears. Release.

· Fill your lungs with breath to the count of four and release.

· Enjoy the feeling of calm and appreciate yourself for taking time for you!
Unfolding at Our Own Pace
In the foreword of Zorba The Greek, by Nikos Kazantzakis, he describes a painful lesson in patience.

“I remember one morning when I discovered a cocoon in the bark of a tree, just as the butterfly was making a hole in its case and preparing to come out. I waited a while, but it was too long appearing and I was impatient. I bent over it and breathed on it to warm it. I warmed it as quickly as I could and the miracle
began to happen before my eyes, faster than life. The case opened, the butterfly started slowly crawling out, and I shall never forget my horror when I saw how its wings were folded back and crumpled; the wretched butterfly tried with its whole trembling body to unfold them. Bending over it, I tried to help it with my breath, in vain. It needed to be hatched out patiently and the unfolding of the wings needed to be a gradual process in sun. Now it was too late. My breath had forced its time. It struggled desperately and, a few seconds later, died in the palm of my hand.”

Allow yourself and others the pace needed to unleash internal beauty and glory.

What does it mean to unfold at our own pace? How do we not get caught up in the urgency of others? This is a dance I witness in myself and my clients.

As with the butterfly in the above story, we all have unique and specific timing for our growth, change, expression, grief, process, etc. Sometimes we can tune into our inner voice, our internal wisdom and allow ourselves to honor that pace. Other times we get influenced by our partners, our parents, work relations, outside pressures that carry a different desire for our pace, such was illustrated in the above story.

How do we recognize outside pressure and stay grounded in our own pace? Our body and breathe are great tools to explore when we feel wrapped up in someone else's urgency. Sometimes we may feel the pressure in our gut, a clenching in our stomach, a pinch in our shoulder blades, a tightening in our neck, a headache, rapid breathing, or maybe all of these things....how does your body manifest taking on someone else's energy? When you ask yourself this question, the answer usually arises.

Once you acknowledge how your body communicates with you regarding outside pressure, monitor it. Notice when you feel those physical discomforts. Is there always a correlate? After you notice and monitor the physical manifestation of your emotional distress....BREATHE! It doesn't have to be any fancy type of breathing, yogic or counted breathing....just tune into your breathe. Recognize by breathing you have slowed down the process.....go back to your pace, your unfolding. Blossom your butterfly wings at your own pace!