Patience by Ian

Patience - Trust

When I was growing up I was always told that “patience is a virtue” and that “good things come to those who wait”. This was a piece of advice from my parents that I found useful and I was able to practice it from an early age. I found waiting for things happily to be a somewhat natural state for me.

It wasn’t always easy though. Living in London for 10 years with the big city pace of life and the pressure of working in industries like finance and TV sometimes took me away from my awareness and centre into the culture of frustration.

One particular example of this I noted was using the London Underground, travelling to work or going home after a busy day. Entering the tube network involves going down escalators, along corridors and eventually arriving at a platform where there is an indicator which tells you when the next train is due to arrive.

Normally this displays 1 minute, 2 minutes or maybe 3 minutes. Sometimes though there can be delays and the sign can show 5 minutes, 7 minutes or even more. In these situations people get extremely upset and it is interesting to note the reaction. I have caught myself doing it as well, the stories that begin to run through our minds – how can this be happening to me, 7 whole minutes just waiting for the train! My day/evening/life is ruined!

Of course, from a distance, from the witness perspective, we can see that this is a nonsensical, psychological suffering that we are imposing on ourselves. It makes no real difference in the big scheme of things if I wait 3 minutes or 7 minutes, so why worry?

Allowing ourselves to react from the heart in times of irritation or distress in daily life mean that we are moving away from the patterns of conditioned response. By taking time and allowing ourselves to view negative emotions from the witness consciousness we can be more in the present moment and respond to life’s challenges with greater compassion and empathy. The first step in mastering patience is in awareness. We have to acknowledge when we are becoming impatient, when we are frustrated and when we begin to get irritated in situations. Then we can begin to act by focusing, breathing and not reacting in our usual way.

 

Patience - Yoga

As we move from a grasping approach towards self­realisation into surrender and trust in the best outcome of the universe we can try our best but without judgement over the results.

If we practice from the heart then transformation will occur; there is no guarantee when it will occur but being relaxed about the outcome both helps our practice and is also  enhanced by our practice.

This is something which is true of all of the Attitudes recommended in Hridaya yoga. By practising we naturally come into resonance with these characteristics but at the same time by observing them in our lives we become mentally purified and our practice is enhanced.

Patience is a theme which is prominent in all major religions. In Christianity it is considered one of the most important virtues.

In Judaism it is taught that we should wait for God and in Proverbs it is written ­ “The patient man shows much good sense, but the quick­tempered man displays folly at its height”

In Islam, sabr or patience with belief in Allah, is considered one of the greatest virtues;

Buddhism contains patience as one of the paramitas or perfections practiced by Bodhisattvas in order to attain enlightenment and in Hinduism patience and forbearance are considered essential attributes. The practitioner should be able to endure unwelcome conditions in a happy frame of mind with the understanding that it is karma playing out in the universal scheme of things.

So take the time to observe your frustration and anxiety and let go of any desire to change it. In daily life, begin to take these moments of impatience and observe them without judgement. Slowly allow yourself the time to observe these things arising and then go beyond the limitation that they are presenting.

17 replies
  1. Emma
    Emma says:

    So lovely to read. Thank you for sharing your insights Ian… it is said nowadays that patience is a siddhi – a supernatural power – that must be cultivated with practice. Thanks for reminding me of the importance of this power!

    Reply
  2. esther
    esther says:

    in india i saw a poster hanging at the wall: “next train: after some time…” 😉 being in india always teaches me patience like nothing else..

    Reply
  3. Jen
    Jen says:

    One of my favorite quotes on this topic is from A Course in Miracles: “Infinite patience leads to immediate results”. A paradox which confounds the mind but the heart understands perfectly!

    Reply
  4. Giselle
    Giselle says:

    Patience as the art of being fully present knowing that there is nowhere else to be or nothing else to do… just BEING!! Thanks so much Ian, for the divine reminder

    Reply
  5. Adina
    Adina says:

    Ian, your article is really topical and very well thought. I like to see somebody who really looks at life with an objective view and understands the patterns we build – and impatience is indeed a vasana we tend to hard-code into our life patterns – and then seeks for ways to rebuild our patterns and cultivate positive vasanas. However, I would add something to your thoughtful approach on impatience (which is focused on the way you address it as an individual facing life and the world). I would add a view to impatience that addresses understanding the others – and the way we perceive them and relate to them. We need to learn to cultivate patience in learning how to understand the others and report to the others in a way that is free from predetermined stereotype thinking patterns, samskaras and projections. We live in a world that is driven by assumption – and assumption is the direct manifestation of impatience in perceiving and assessing the others. Impatience and assumptions act as hindrances in developing quality spiritual interactions with the people around us, hindrances on the spiritual path, and hindrances to the overall evolution of humanity.

    Reply
  6. Ian
    Ian says:

    Thanks everyone for the kind words!
    Thanks especially to Adina for pointing out that looking from the eyes of others without predjudice is hugely important on the path!

    Reply
    • Adina
      Adina says:

      Thank you, Ian. I actually had a much longer answer – which is an article in itself. Maybe you’ll appreciate it fully. It builds up on the topic of Patience and applies the “relation with others” to the way we learn about Patience in Hridaya attitudes. Here it is:

      Patience in Understanding the Others and Developing Spiritual Relationships

      In the view of living with Pure Intention and an Open Heart, we need to learn to cultivate patience in learning how to perceive the others and relate to the others in a way that is free from predetermined stereotype thinking patterns, samskaras and projections. We live in a world that is driven by assumption – and assumption is the direct manifestation of impatience in understanding and assessing the others. Impatience and assumptions act as hindrances in developing quality spiritual interactions with the people around us, hindrances on one’s own spiritual path, and hindrances to the overall evolution of humanity.

      We know impatience is a state of mind – an agitated mind, a hyperactive mind, a life lived in the mind. Therefore, impatience in understanding the other, the person one relates to, the values of the other, the life pattern the other has been building, the purposes the other has been following, impatience in grasping who the other really is, this impatience practically manifests as “re-creating” the other in one’s mind in the manner in which one’s agitated mind wants to perceive the other. Not having the patience to observe and learn and really understand the other, the mind projects its own distorted perceptions, samskaras and current or past life dissatisfactions into developing a fake image of the other that will become the leading driving force in any further interactions.

      Rushing into defining the other, jumping into judgement and putting labels on the other, will only lead to developing that “image of the other” in one’s impatient and agitated mind that will further create a vasana, a negative pattern of enforcing one’s own “image of the other” onto the “real other”, creating conflict between the “image” and the “reality” of the other, and turning this conflict into drama, permanent suffering, unreasonable expectations that are never met, and a permanent source of dissatisfaction with the present moment.

      Patience keeps us in the present moment and in resonance with the Absolute Truth. Impatience comes from the mind, patience comes from the Heart! When trying to understand the others, allowing the response to arise from the heart, rather than to come from the mind and mental reactions, we learn, with time, to break the stimulus-response patterns (the rushing patterns) and stop reacting just like unconscious “Pavlov’s dogs”. Cultivating non-reactivity helps in this process tremendously. Patience is “giving time to your heart to act” – the basis for real spiritual progress and for developing pure spiritual relationships. While rush and impatience in judgement and labelling will make one the slave of its own negative emotions (anger, envy, jealousy, insecurity, pride or frustration), ultimately projected on the other, patience will quiet the mind and will help cultivating spiritual positive emotions and qualities of love, compassion, empathy, that will allow us to welcome the other and perceive the other with an insight coming from a pure heart.

      As patience is a quality that is the basis of all spiritual realisation, it moves one from the realm of the ego to the realm of surrender and trust to the divine consciousness. We need to apply this in our relationships with the others too. It may also mean taking “baby steps” in cultivating patience and perseverance in the way we learn to perceive, to know, and to really understand the others. And the way we learn to drop our own projections and escape pre-determined stereotype perceptions on people and the way we perceive the world.

      Then, we will be able to really live with a clear mind and engage in actions that lead to positive outcomes, bring happiness in our relationships with the others and eliminate any conflicts. And the willingness to cultivate such patience in relating to the others is a way to live with Pure Intention and an Open Heart.

      With Love,
      Adina

      Reply
      • Ian
        Ian says:

        Beautifully put Adina,
        You’ve made me think even deeper about the essential practice of patience during everyday interactions and how this (seemingly small) act can have a profound transformational effect!

        Thanks again (and keep up the good work!)
        x

        Reply
  7. Will
    Will says:

    Thank you for sharing Ian 🙂 Patience was not one of my strengths, but with more meditation practice more patience has come.

    Reply

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