Wait! Ahhh, that’s all it takes

“It’s a transformative experience to simply pause instead of immediately filling up the space. By waiting, we begin to connect with fundamental restlessness as well as fundamental spaciousness.”

Pema Chodron

A few years ago, I discovered the lightness & connection from the practice of simply waiting. I had been moving too fast, and was feeling disconnected a lot of the time. I don’t know if it came from any particular book, teacher, workshop, or meditation. I simply adopted the word “seconds” into my everyday experience.

It started out as a sort of weak pun; a play on the meaning of asking for seconds at the dinner table, “seconds” as in a second helping. I was really enjoying meeting various people, and decided to try taking a second look at them, or a second listen. It was about suspending judgement and being open to who they were and meeting them where they were. The results were amazing, as I discovered a richness in the people around me, even strangers I might pass on the street.

Then, I extended the idea of “seconds” to the time-sense, to taking just a few more seconds with someone, to holding that gaze just another second more, to listening to someone just a little longer, and feeling into being just a second more. That, too, has been amazing practice. It’s opened up new connections with new people, new ideas, and new situations that’s brought me a freshness, spaciousness, and energy that has enriched my life.

Even though I’ve only consciously started this “seconds” practice a few years ago, I remember someone suggesting it to me in high school. Some friends and I would go golfing each week or so and often have some stranger join us to make a foursome. This guy we hadn’t met shared some old golfer’s wisdom with us. He pointed out that nearly all the other golfers on the course were duffers and so we don’t need to be hard on ourselves. He suggested we come to the course sometime and simply watch and wait. He was absolutely right – lots of the other golfers were caught in their own games, in their own worlds, in their own personal hells. It wasn’t so much about comparing ourselves to other golfers so we’d feel better. It was more about having awareness of ourselves and not comparing ourselves to others and not judging ourselves and instead relaxing into the moment. Hey! I wonder if that guy was some Buddhist golfer?

Pema’s words ring a bell with me, since they remind me of the change that’s come from simply waiting, from simply breathing, and simply having seconds.

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