One Heart Coaching New York City

Compassion in the Waiting Room

Compassion in the Wating RoomBy George Marino CPC, CMMT November 23, 2021

One of the ways in which mindfulness is recognized is when you notice your external environment in ways that were previously covered up by anticipation and rumination.

One example involves two of my accounting clients, both of whom are in the healthcare industry. One client is a medical oncology group treating patients, toward the end of life. The other is an obstetrics group treating patients who are about to birth life. Both clients have been long-term accounts, and over the years I have noticed, on many occasions, a different energy vibe in the waiting room for each client.

For the oncology group, patients and their family members who accompany them for their infusion therapy and other care are serene, calm, and present as they wait for treatment. In the obstetrics group, I frequently notice anxiousness. One medical specialty is treating people toward the end of life, while the other is at the beginning of life, with two quite different vibrational frequencies. For me, walking through both waiting rooms, I sense a deep compassion for each; it feels a little bit like relating to both their inner states and their struggles. These have been moments of real connection and compassion as I pondered the human dilemma at both spectrums of existence, often connecting to these people in subtle ways.

Letting people in from the metaphorical “waiting room” of your life could also happen when you give up your seat on a crowded bus or train. There are countless numbers of “waiting rooms” each day where we can show compassion for others as well as ourselves. Meister Eckhart writes:

"Compassion means justice.” When we are kicked in the gut, we get stirred with an emotion like anger, and that emotion fuels our passion for justice. So, our actions become compassionate as we are present and in touch with our entire being. For compassion is where peace and justice meet.

The people in both of my clients’ waiting rooms have names, families, careers, hobbies, as well as aspirations, fears, and frustrations. Yet I pondered, "What is in a name?" I would suggest that a name establishes a breath connection between humans as well as with plants, animals, and the natural world. The sound and vibration that a name evokes in us when felt and listened to acutely in the body takes us out of our conceptual minds and into something deeper. We remove layers of judgment and preconceived notions about a person or, for that matter, a tree, bird, ethnic group, or even the solar system and beyond. Everything becomes mystery, and we tap into an inner spaciousness and peace that is always there.

Even if you do not know a person’s name, like me when I pass through both waiting rooms of my clients, “human being” can take us to this state. The uniting of “human” as the surface dimension—including physical appearance, family origin, and personality—with “being” as the subtle and unshakeable field of timeless conscious presence. Your mind will believe this is silly but do it anyway and see what happens.

The waiting room is a space for compassion to blossom; it does not have to be in a doctor’s office as in my example. I also find a” waiting room” can be something simple like waiting for an elevator, subway, bus, being stuck in New York City traffic, and the like. These are moments when attention can be directed to the present moment—your own inner “waiting room.” It includes not just the surface aspect of the moment, such as your surroundings, people, traffic and so forth, but also the essence of the present moment, which we can call compassion.

How much of our time in your work is spent waiting? We may be waiting for a client to provide us information so that we can complete a project, or we wait for a meeting to start. Yes, you can, in certain instances, move on to other work-related activities, but sometimes we cannot—we must wait. In Samuel Becket’s play Waiting for Godot, two men wait by a tree, aimlessly waiting for Godot, who does not show up. How much of our workday are we waiting for the next thing to happen? And it never happens. Planning your day is good, but I am referring to a habitual mindset that is constantly seeking fulfillment in “what’s next.”

I help people who may be experiencing boredom and anxiety with mindfulness practices and conscious goal setting and monitoring in what is most important to my client. Schedule your introductory coaching session.