When we look closely, we find that we pass a great deal of time within the mental frame of being “on our way to the next thing”— completing a task that has been hanging over us, getting to our next meal, disengaging from a phone conversation. Now is not as important as doing something to relieve the stress we feel from unmet wants and gnawing fears. We don’t like the feelings that arise inside us when we are forced simply to wait.
But in life we have to wait a lot. According to one study, the average person in our culture spends eleven days a year just waiting in lines — and this doesn’t count time in planes and cars waiting to “get there.” Nor does it include hours of listening to electronic messages or waiting for TV commercials to end so that we can get back to the main feature. Throughout our day, red lights get in our way. Waiting is stressful, but it is part of the life of all creatures. As long as we have wants and fears, we are waiting for fulfillment or relief. The big question in spiritual practice is, how do we react to biological and psychological stress? Do we think having to wait and tolerate discomfort is a mistake, a glitch in the system?
Tara Brach, Blessings of a Patient Heart