When things don’t turn out as planned

Patience and waiting are some of the themes of this season of Advent

So there has been a blockage in terms of what we expect. It happens quite often: the bus or train is late; the visitor doesn’t show up; the machine breaks down – and so on. And when that happens, your mind can do one of a number of things. Firstly, you can get annoyed and blame someone (or blame yourself). Secondly, you can feel depressed and cheated by life. Thirdly, you can wait patiently. And finally, your mind can pause, open and appreciate the space where the will relaxes and it feels good to be conscious with nothing to do and nowhere to go. 

The significant point is that when you can’t get what you want, your underlying tendencies to get exasperated or feel let down come up – and they then interpret the situation as ‘lazy disorganized people’ or ‘no one considers my feelings’. Actually there are generally a number of causes as to why things don’t go my way — the Buddha just called it ‘dukkha’ – but the immediate reaction and interpretation are an indication of tendencies in one’s own mind. 

We don’t have to guess at why things aren’t going according to plan; and jumping to a conclusion is always a move into the shadows of one’s own mind.  So, pause. A pause is not a disapproval or a judgement; it’s an opening of attention.  Pausing is an essential, deep and accessible practice.

Ajahn Sucitto, Learning the Pause

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