A practice of Patience

Take a moment. Consider how patience feels in your body. Now consider how impatience feels. The difference is incredible. What does too much patience feels like. A little stagnant for sure. The question is how do we move toward balance. This also begs the question that when we feel passion or want to act against injustice, can this be done from a place of patience. One might think that patience means a lack of urgency or importance. Could patience allow for the perseverance to move toward righting injustice?

Patience is defined in the Webster dictionary as “to manifest forbearance under provocation or strain: not hasty or impetuous: steadfast despite opposition, difficulty, or adversity, and bearing pains or trial calmly or without complaint.”

I struggle with some of this definition but the term that resonates with me is steadfast. Patience certainly is not a practice of non engagement or being passive. One can be in control and steadfast, with purpose and stay in the present moment. Perhaps it would look like taking the time to listen and consider the thoughts and ideas of others, taking the time to express your ideas and wonders and taking the long game towards relationships, personal goals and societal injustices.

More often than not, my mind moves beyond the current moment and it recalls and interprets both consciously and unconsciously the past or forecasts the future. In other words, my mind gets in the way. Consider, when we feel like we have something figured out or we dismiss what we don’t understand. Active listening can be tenuous when patience is out of balance in either direction. When I become quiet and present, I understand that my current abundance or lack of patience comes from several well honed drives and reinforced behaviours. Like a mountain appearing before me, making the changes I desire seems more arduous and multi fasciated. This climb is not without reward.

In yoga, we have a concept called the kleshas and it is defined as an obstacle or an affliction.  Firstly, we have the hurdle that yogis would call incorrect understanding or comprehension. How often do we know for certain that we have reasoned correctly and our perception is without error. We might also feel all other interpretations are flawed at worst or not fully formed at best. One could think of our understanding as illusion. Consider too the ego mind and the many past experiences that have provided each of us with deep patterns of expectation and automatic reaction felt emotionally and physically. Finally, consider that we are unconsciously making decisions toward experiences of pleasure and we are repelled by suffering and unpleasantness.

How do we look to remove these unconscious obstacles? In yoga, we have the practice of focusing the mind. This practice could be meditation and it could also be the active practice active listening, and mindful movement to name a few. Here we learn the skill of being present and that the feelings both good and bad always come and always go.

Only practice leads to new skills. The skills of being present are simple to practice however it does take steadfastness and constant practice to develop patience. Practicing patience to increase patience. Curious isn’t it! Well not so much.

Being present is being patient. Can one be patient and act in the world? It would be the most steadfast, respectful, productive, and self honouring way to do so. This is the mountain and I have some thinking and climbing to do.

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