Patience. I can be impatient and sometimes suffer from a “just let me do it” attitude when I find things not being done quickly, efficiently or on my personal timetable. Not good. During the time when my children were young, I believe my patience was better. As my boys got older, and I perceived them to be “grown”, my patience for certain things dwindled again. Last week I was reflecting on this idea of patience-especially being patient with others-as I headed into a three-day adventure with my 89-year-old mother. I steeled myself for her repetitive stories, perseverating about my siblings and her lack of filter when trying on clothes (she thinks every outfit should make one look like Twiggy). In fact, we spent three fun days at the Brimfield Antiques Fair, something we have done for almost 30 years; we had an excellent time. She is spry and given my hip issues, could out walk me!
My impatience flares up in traffic, waiting on hold, and in conversations (and not only with my mom). In my yoga study, I have learned about practicing mindfulness and meditation. Both help. Some. The reality is that like anything, we must must practice, rinse and repeat. My dilemma is that if I am thinking yogic thoughts, I am in a good position to implement these tools. In the heat of a discussion (argument), traffic jam, long line, or one of my mother’s long-winded stories, I rarely remember to engage in these practices. I am trying.
This photo was taken during my trip to India in 2019. Full of learning, meditation and asana practice along with hiking and temple visits, I learned wonderful techniques for meditation, being present and being peaceful and patient. When I look at these photos I try to conjure up that state of mind, it is helpful. Also reminds me of such a blissful trip.
So how does this relate to our yoga practice? Coming back around to Sutra 1.2 Yogas citta vrtti nirodhah: yoga is the cessation of the modifications, or fluctuations, of the mind. This sutra gets right to the heart of why we practice yoga. As we calm our mind of impatience, focus on the present and breathe we are practicing yoga. Remember, like yoga, patience is a practice!
In researching this topic, I found lots of helpful articles and will share some links. I found many tips for helping practice patience, and why it is good to do so, and am highlighting a few of my favorites (meaning those which particularly hit home for me).
1. Cultivate Compassion. As we are impatient with others, likely we are impatient or judgmental with ourselves. As we have conversations with others, we may find their words boring, inconsequential or silly and then tune them out or talk over them. Both unkind and potentially rude. Self-compassion, the art of learning to treat ourselves the way we hope others would trust us, fosters room for us to offer that compassion to others.
2. Practice Mindfulness and Meditation – By practicing meditation and mindfulness we can work towards being more present, controlling our breath (or utilizing different breath techniques) and bring awareness to what is happening in our body and around us. These techniques can help us be less reactive. My suggestion is to start small, with perhaps a 5-minute guided meditation from YouTube or a wellness app. And if that idea sounds overwhelming, take 5-10 minutes in a quiet place, and do nothing but breathe, keep trying to clear your mind and relax. If you consciously focus on each inhale and exhale, you will find yourself finding calm. If your mind wanders, bring it back to the breath. It is impossible for your mind to think about two things exactly at the same time. Don't believe me? try it!
3. Practice Being a Good Listener. Listen carefully when you are in a conversation. Make eye contact. Focus on understanding, rather than thinking ahead to your response. It took me years to realize that when someone is speaking to you about something that is important to them, they don’t necessarily want you to fix it and they don’t want to hear your example of how that happened to you as well!
I liked the following article from the Cleveland Clinic on practicing patience.
Our Practice – Patience with Our Practice
Speaking of patience, at one time or another we have all become impatient with our career growth, fitness, improvement in a favorite hobby or (or especially) our yoga practice. No matter how many times I tell myself (and my students!), there is a reason that yoga is not in the Olympics: it is not a competitive sport, I find myself feeling disappointed that there are some poses that are not physically possible for me or that my body does not feel-good in.
To illustrate that, below is a photo from my yoga teacher training when I was trying mightily to practice wheel pose. It was/is my nemesis pose although that should not be a thing. I have not tried to do the pose in about a year, maybe someday I will again, maybe I won't. There is no good reason for me to do this pose, it doesn't feel good in my body and I have let it go. Mostly. I thought this could make us all laugh a bit. It's ok, I am laughing too.
This week instead of focusing on any one pose, I suggest we practice patience with ourselves during our practice! Instead of a fast flow and lots of vinyasas, we will take time in each pose, holding them a little longer and let that patience build with your breath. As we breathe and adjust, we will find what feels good. We will do that in class as well as a longer stretching restorative practice before savasana. We will try to appreciate what our bodies do for us every day and understand that everyone is made differently and how each pose looks on each body will subsequently look differently, and beautiful.
I love this humorous and insightful post by Charlotte Bell on this topic,
especially her confessions about “the snark”. I too have a snarky side that I am really working on through my practice. It is slow, but I am making progress….
Meditation – Practicing Patience
“The practice of patience guards us against losing our presence of mind. It enables us to remain undisturbed, even when the situation is really difficult. It gives us a certain amount of inner peace, which allows us some self-control, so that we can choose to respond to situations in an appropriate and compassionate manner, rather than being driven by our disturbing emotions.” – Dalai Lama
Nurturing with Food – Asian Inspired Glazed Vegetables.
Peter developed this delicious recipe by adapting one that he found in Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street magazine and adapted it with more vegetable variety and tweaked the sauce. This is an Asian-influenced recipe with a nice kick to it. It is also a forgiving recipe meaning you can adjust the kinds and amounts of vegetables to what you have.
See you on the mat!