Waiting-in-Line Meditation: How to Chill Out in 10 Items or Less

Waiting-in-Line Meditation

A few days ago, Chris and I were cruising around the salad bar/hot food bar at Whole Foods. When we’re feeling especially lazy, it’s nice to grab a quick dinner there.

If I had my way, I’d just pull a chair up to the salad bar and start shoveling stuff into my mouth. Gosh, everything looks so yummy when I don’t have to spend hours chopping it up myself.

Anyhoo, I was waiting behind 2 older ladies who were standing in front of the salad dressings. I just wanted a quick spritz of red wine vinegar and then I’d be on my way.

But I had to wait.

One of the ladies was shaking the almost empty container of ranch dressing into a condiment cup. Very slowly…

Shake, shake, shake…shake, shake, shake…shake, shake, shake…

And boy, was I getting frustrated. A bitchy voice inside my mind was screaming, “Hey, lady! Maybe the universe is telling you to stop eating ranch dressing!”

Damn you, internet. You’ve ruined me forever and given me the attention span of a gnat.

Shake, shake, shake…

Finally, I remembered some of my meditation teachings.

Everything is here for a reason, including long, annoying lines. This situation was an opportunity for me to practice calming meditation.

I’m sure you’re stuck waiting for something at least a few times a week, whether that’s at the grocery store, the coffee shop, the pharmacy, or any number of places with long lines of customers.

Before you lose your cool, here are some easy waiting-in-line meditations for you to try.

Count Your Breaths

Concentrate on slowing your breathing by inhaling through your nose for 2 counts and then exhaling through your mouth for 2 counts. Try to exhale silently so you don’t annoy the other customers in line. No need to sigh theatrically like a drama queen.

On the exhale, count the breath in your mind. Imagine all your pent up frustration flowing out of you as you exhale. By the time you get to the front of the line, you’ll be as cool as a cucumber.

Count Your ABCs

Look around at the items in the store: magazines, candy, neatly folded T shirts, holiday knick knacks, etc. Find an item that begins with the letter A. Maybe Angelina Jolie on the cover of a gossip rag or an anorak hung on the clearance rack.

Then find something that starts with the letter B and work your way through the alphabet. You’ll most likely reach the front of the line before you reach Z (zippers?).

Count Your Blessings

You know I’m a gratitude whore, right? Of course I’d suggest you practice saying thank you for whatever situation you find yourself in! Instead of tapping your toes or glancing at your watch every 5 seconds, name all the things you can think of that make you happy.

How about the car that you drove to the store? The money in your bank account? The fact that you’re not as stressed out as the poor cashier? Count your blessings no matter how big or small they are. You could even race to come up with 50 things to be grateful for before it’s your turn to checkout.

“Life’s greatest comfort is being able to look over your shoulder and see people worse off, waiting in line behind you.” Chuck Palahniuk

How do you stay calm when you’re forced to wait in line?

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  1. Cara on February 19, 2013 at 7:45 pm

    I love the breathing idea. The other day I forgot my iPhone, and was bored on the bus. I decided to just focus on breathing, and not listening to the idiots on the bus. It was the most relaxing bus ride I’ve ever had!

    • Sage Grayson on February 19, 2013 at 8:18 pm

      That’s awesome! I get frustrated on bus rides too. Why do all the crazy people end up on my bus? Focusing on your breathing is a nice way to stay present.

  2. Martha on February 19, 2013 at 4:56 pm

    I think both raising 3 children and then caring for both of my parents in their final years have taught me a lot of patience. I have also had a few too many coincidences where I’ve been slightly delayed and discovered if I would have been in the same place a minute sooner chances are I could have been involved in that car accident, store robbery, etc. I also learned after switching from a sports car to an economy car that sometimes when we wonder why the car in front of us won’t hurry up and go, it’s because it can’t go that fast that quickly! Being impatient doesn’t help to speed things along no matter what, once we really realize that I think we can make a conscious decision to just chose patience.

    • Sage Grayson on February 19, 2013 at 8:23 pm

      You know those people who tap the elevator button repeatedly as if that will make it go faster? It drives me crazy! I work on my patience as much as I can because I don’t want to be one of those weirdos. That’s a good point that sometimes you can a avoid a bad situation by staying calm and taking your time.

  3. Molly on February 19, 2013 at 5:52 pm

    I have a hard time with waiting sometimes. Okay, a lot of times. 🙂 Mike always says that I’m not exactly the most patient person. However, I think I am much more patient than I used to be! I read a great book called Peace Is Every Step when I was younger, and it had a lot of this in it- how to make the most out of every situation.

    I like the counting your breaths suggestion. I’m going to do that!

    • Sage Grayson on February 19, 2013 at 8:20 pm

      I end up counting my breaths quite a bit when I’m stuck in line. I have a tendency to be impatient, though I don’t mean to be.

  4. Sarah @ This Is What I Eat on February 19, 2013 at 4:39 pm

    I’m not going to lie, that sounds so frustrating! As a NYer I like things to move pretty quickly, it’s how we roll here, so that would drive me nuts! I love your idea about the ABCs. That actually sounds like a really fun little game to play 🙂

    I’d probably pull up a chair next to you at the hot bar, ha! They always have such yummy selections 🙂

    • Sage Grayson on February 19, 2013 at 8:27 pm

      The Whole Foods by me is really big and clean and all the premade meals look so good. They make me never want to cook again. When I lived in Chicago, I thought things moved quickly, but that’s probably nothing compared to your fast-paced New York life. Now that I’m in California, I need to adjust to the slow, groovy, hippie life. No one else around here seems as impatient as me.