Ever since our younger days we have been taught that patience is a virtue. However, patience is a quality that does not get much consideration in this fast paced 21st century world. But there is great wisdom in it. Patience is what helps let go of an unhelpful obsession with fruitful outcomes. It teaches us to deal with the puzzles of life with our limited qualities. It is a recognition that our reality is in flux and we are not seeing what is best for us. Cultivating patience helps us to attain solitude and self contentment. Patience is what dissolves unexamined reactions and habits of interpretation, allowing us to see things in a way that is more real, more whole, more true. But the trouble with patience is that it usually comes too little, too late. We've already yelled at a loved one, thrown away months of work in despair or shut the door on our neighbour's face. The truth is that patience is out there, waiting for us to pick and make our own. According to Pavithra Mehta, “Patience is a kind of love. A love that is its own explanation in bewildered circumstances. It is an old, old woman placing a wrinkled parchment hand against the cheek of a reckless child because her heart is too wise to make room for reproach, too full to find place for offence.”
Patience is an understanding that transcends the limitations of the moment and sees even beyond. And so how do we cultivate this patience? Here are some steps to follow to cultivate patience.
1. Zoom out: Quite often life is larger than what it appears to be in our first impression. And so first find out what your mind is focused on. Next try to think more broadly and in the long term. Suppose you are in a queue in a bank and somebody cuts in your front. Zooming out is to see that being behind yet one more person is not going to have any real impact in your life. The very next hour it will seem so insignificant. This practice is rooted in the realisation that our views can expand, allowing us to see things in a different way. A key aspect of zooming out is knowing that we are not just what our reaction is at any instant. It helps to broaden our identity. Impatience strikes when we become obsessed with our own initial views. Zooming out allows us to consciously take a step out of our selves. If we were to hit the reset button on our habitual thinking, how would we see the situation?
2.Release your stress: Take a deep breath and exhale. Feel exactly what is going on in your chest, your throat, your legs, your arms and anywhere your mind easily goes to. Sometimes we are not aware of what is happening beneath the surface and lose patience. Stress builds up at relatively unconscious levels of the mind. To prevent this accumulation the first step is to become aware of what is happening at the subtler levels of the mind, and a wonderful gateway for this is the body. As we become aware, we begin to notice the physical components of mental tension, and just in shedding light on it, there is a fine but significant release. We might feel it as tightness in the hips or in shoulders or we might have furrowed eyebrows. Releasing the stress is to work at the root of the impatience and dissolve the resistance we discover.
3. Zoom in: Zoom into the present moment without any definite judgment. Flood your awareness with the minute details without clinging on to any of them. The more insightful and objective our attention, the more it becomes a gateway to realising the potential richness and beauty inherent in every experience. Even in our difficult times; we can tune into the difficult moments instead of escaping from them. When we zoom into the moments and sensitise on what exactly is happening our body it becomes easier to balance our emotions. In this process our patience takes hold over us and we mould into our balanced self.
4. Be attentive to the small stuff: Be attentive even when it does not seem to matter. When you are shopping, or commuting to work be aware of the small things that are happening around you. It is important because small things are always happening. Starting off with small makes things doable and unintimidating, More important, it makes our awareness sharper. So we start with becoming aware of the slightest ways in which we might be “off”: a subtle boredom while waiting in the grocery line, or a bit of impatience at the red light, or tuning out for a bit in a meeting. Each time we catch even a tiny deviation, we are strengthening our attunement to the subtle, allowing us to dissolve little impatience before they added or multiply.
5. Accept changes: Changes are part of life. First note the changes taking outside and then connect to what is passing and arising within. Often impatience results from our fixation of inner thoughts and ideas. When we attune to changing nature of the reality we tend to break away from sticking to one view. Rationally we know that things change but when we actually notice we tend to break the story we otherwise tend to create. Our own feeling of impatience has its variance as has our other thoughts and sensations. The more we tune into this changing reality the more we are ready to engage with what is actually happening.
6. Learning from others: Patience can also be cultivated by watching others and learning how not to give in to momentary whims, how to hold on and see what happens. It means waiting with hundred others to see what kind of fruits our life reaps. Patience means watching and waiting. As Pravithra Mehta also says, “Patience is a kind of understanding. An understanding that transcends the 'limitations' of the moment. It's a teacher standing at the blackboard repeating A is for Apple. B is for Boy. Day after day to small puzzled faces. Because she believes that one day they will make the leap that connects the sound to the letter the letter to the word the word to the shiny red contours of a classic fruit. Patience is a kind of trust. A trust that does its part and holds the rest lightly in an open palm.” We have to learn to trust ourselves to be patient. Do not forget patience has great wisdom and virtue!
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