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.
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.