In the big scheme of my life, these are minor. I can do a few basic repairs, and of course, call my handy man for the really complicated stuff. Thank God for my handy man! I can say, “This is such a little thing. What does it have to do with the rest of my life?” It is connected. It’s a window of awareness into the major things involving impatience in my life.
And so I ask “how many other things…more important things…am I impatient with? And then I notice my impatience in driving or eating or during a conversation. Wanting someone to be different than they are or a situation to be different or myself to be different than I am. This degree of irritation causes me suffering and those around me, robbing myself and others of happiness. My experiences then, of course, become strained and unrelaxed and certainly not much fun.
So as I notice and identify conditions of impatience, I am cultivating how I can do these things more patiently, such as being with my yoga practice just as it is that day, or not setting myself up to rush around by over-scheduling, trying to cram all that I can into my day, really listening when a friend needs to talk, and allowing people and myself to be just who we are in the moment.
As I cultivate patience, I am noticing that it gives rise to both wisdom and compassion. I tend to see things a bit more clearly and be kinder to myself and others. And from this, arises more generosity….all out of this simple but deep practice of patience.
We are cultivating the quality of patience every time we meditate…sitting or walking. Every time we become aware of our breath and bring our monkey mind back to our breath, we are cultivating both patience and mindfulness. And this invitation to ourselves to be more open, more in touch, more patient with our moments naturally extends itself to other times in our lives as well.
We come to know that things unfold according to their own nature and we can remember to let our lives unfold in the same way. Kabat-Zinn says it wisely: “We don’t have to let our anxieties and our desire for certain results dominate the quality of the moment, even when things are painful. When we have to push, we push. When we have to pull, we pull. But we know when not to push too, and when not to pull. Through it all, we attempt to bring balance to the present moment, understanding that in cultivating patience lies wisdom, knowing that what will come next will be determined in large measure by how we are now.”
I’d like to end by sharing two poems that touch on the quality of patience.
The first is by Rainer Maria Rilke.
“I beg you….to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search right now for the answers, which could not be given to you, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without ever noticing it, live your way into the answer.”
And the second by Walt Whitman from Leaves of Grass.
I exist as I am, that is enough,
If no other in the world be aware, I sit content.
And if each and all be aware, I sit content.
One world is aware, and by far the largest to me,
and that is myself.
And whether I come to my own today or in ten thousand
or ten million years,
I can cheerfully take it now, or with equal cheerfulness,
I can wait.