The Value of Patience in Understanding People

By Adina Riposan-Taylor (Saraswati Devi)

In view of living with Pure Intention and an Open Heart, it is useful to learn to cultivate patience in learning how to perceive and relate to people in a way that is free from stereotypes, samskaras (unconscious impressions), and projections. We live in a world that is driven by assumptions, and assumptions are the direct manifestation of impatience in understanding and assessing people around us. Impatience and assumptions act as hindrances to experiencing quality human interactions. They impede our own spiritual transformation and the overall evolution of humanity.

We know —an agitated mind, a hyperactive mind, a life lived in the mind. Therefore, impatience in understanding those around us and grasping who they are at the level of the personality—their values, life patterns, and goals—practically manifests as “re-creating” them in our minds. In essence, the agitated mind decides how it wants to perceive that person. Not having the patience to observe, get to know, and really understand someone, the mind projects its own distorted perceptions, samskaras, and current or past life dissatisfactions into a fake, distorted image of the person. They become a figure of our imagination, and the image we create becomes the driving force in any further interactions we have with them.

impatience is a state of mind

Rushing into defining someone, jumping into judgment, and putting labels on a person will only lead to developing that “image of the other” in our impatient and agitated mind. This will further create a vasana (in this case, a negative pattern of enforcing our own “image of the other” onto the “real one”), trying to “re-create” the person and, thus, creating conflict between the “image” and “reality” of that person. This dissonance results in drama, permanent suffering, unreasonable expectations that are never met, and a permanent source of dissatisfaction with the present moment.

A common example of such a conflict is that we feel we really “love” someone when what we actually love is the distorted image of the person that we have created in our own mind—the imaginary person, the projection. Often, we might eventually “hate” the person we “love,” as their manifestation never lives up to the expectations we have related to their “image.” Conflict and drama will soon be there, and we will resent not being able to turn the person into the image we created.

Developing Spiritual RelationshipsPatience keeps us in the present moment and in resonance with Absolute Truth. Impatience comes from the mind, patience comes from the Heart! When trying to understand someone, by allowing the response to arise from the Heart rather than coming from the mind and our mental reactions we learn to break our stimulus-response patterns (the rushing patterns) and stop reacting like unconscious “Pavlov’s dogs.” Cultivating non-reactivity helps in this process tremendously. Patience is “giving time for your heart to act”—the basis for real spiritual progress and for developing pure spiritual relationships. Rushing and impatience in judgment and labeling make us slaves of our own negative emotions (anger, envy, jealousy, insecurity, pride, or frustration), which we ultimately project outwards. Meanwhile, patience quiets the mind and helps us cultivate the positive emotions and qualities of love, compassion, and empathy—which allow us to welcome everyone and perceive all beings with insights coming from the Heart.

As patience is a quality that is the basis for all spiritual realization, it moves us from the realm of the ego to the realm of surrender and trust in the Divine Consciousness. It is useful to apply this in our relationships with people, too. This may mean taking “baby steps” in cultivating patience and perseverance in the way we perceive, know, and understand everyone. With practice, we can learn to drop our own projections and escape our pre-determined stereotypes and perceptions about people and 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, and eliminate conflict. The willingness to cultivate such patience in relating to all beings is a way to live with Pure Intention and an Open Heart.

With Love,
Adina
Adina is a Hridaya Yoga teacher and the founder of the Satya Sattva Studio in Fernandina Beach, Florida.

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