Do you have the patience to wait                                                                                                     till your mud settles and the water is clear?                                                                                   Can you remain unmoving                                                                                                                 till the right action arises by itself?                                                                                                                                    Lao-Tzu, Tao-te-Ching

Patience is one of the mental attitudes that support our yoga practice; it’s a quality that needs to be cultivated together with our asanas and our meditation practice.

When we cultivate patience  – holding on to a stretch or a posture – we are also practicing mindfulness.  Mindfulness has a profound relevance, not only in yoga but also in our present-day lives.  It has to do with paying attention and living with awareness or wakefulness.  From a Yoga perspective, our ordinary waking state of consciousness is seen as being limited, resembling in many respects an extended dream.  We are mindful every time we stop and become aware of the flow of our breathing, the step we take, the sound we hear. As these moments become more frequent, we are more in touch, more open and we remember to let our life unfold just as all things unfold according to their nature.

When we cultivate patience our meditation practice becomes richer and deeper. We learn for a little while to just be, not trying to get anywhere or reach for anything.  Then we can enter a space of calmness where there is no rushing and where things unfold in their own time.  After all, the seasons cannot be hurried.  Spring comes and grass grows by itself.  Being in a hurry usually does not help and it can create many difficulties for us and others. This does not mean that we can’t hurry when we have to, but is it possible to hurry patiently, mindfully, moving fast because we have chosen to and not because we are moved by impatience, irritability or nervousness?

Patience is the alternative to the mind’s constant restlessness and impatience.  Impatience is one of the signs before the stress response is triggered, before the heart starts racing under the effects of adrenaline and anger takes over.  Impatience is an energy that appears when things are not the way we want them; it is blaming others (and often ourselves) when we do not accept things the way they are. We’d like to believe that we are in control and tend to forget that everything is interconnected, that things happen because other things happen and that nothing happens in an isolated manner.

When we practice patience we are cultivating compassion, the antidote of impatience. The Dalai Lama is well known for his compassionate attitude towards the Chinese government who for years has practiced genocide against the Tibetans.  When asked about his apparent lack of anger towards the Chinese, he replied, “they have taken everything away from us; should I let them take my mind as well?”  This attitude not only shows a willingness to remain patient when confronted with tremendous suffering but also the inner peace  of knowing what is most fundamental.

Patience implies “letting go”,  probably one of the most used New Age clichés. But in spite of it being overused, it is very important to learn about this practice intimately connected with patience. Letting go is a conscious decision to stop clinging to anything -an idea, a thing, a situation, etc…  It implies giving up struggling, controlling or resisting for something more powerful that comes when we allow things to be as they are.  It means not getting caught in attracting or rejecting.  It’s like opening our hand to let go of what we have been holding on.

Letting go also implies trust, the conviction that things will not unfold in a chaotic manner.   But can we really trust ourselves?  Are our thoughts, our bodies or our emotions to be trusted?  We know how  changeable and impermanent they are.  In Yoga only the Atman, the soul, our true nature is real and trustworthy, that which was never born and will never die, that which manifests as wisdom, compassion and bliss.  These are the very good news from the Yoga masters.  But can we trust the truth of their words?  Well, let’s put them to the test.  After all, if that is who we are, we should all be able to know what those wonderful qualities taste like.

Lie on your mat or sit on your meditation cushion. Attend to the moment carefully, watch the gentle flow of your breath and when you notice the pull of the mind to go somewhere else, bring it back to this moment gently, patiently, keenly aware of what is unfolding right now, without judging, projecting or imposing… just breathing, just being.  Repeat this exercise as long as necessary until you feel a sense of balance and well-being, until you can feel peace in your heart and in your bones.  Can you trust your sensations now? Can you trust your insights now?


About suryasanmiguel

I'm a Yoga teacher and educator. I was born in Madrid, Spain and came to Canada in the 70's to study but remained here. I received a degree in Education from McGill University. In my student's years I had the good fortune of meeting my Zen teacher, Roshi Phillip Kapleau and I studied with him for 15 years attending numerous retreats. In 1988 I was also very fortunate to meet Swami Vishnudevananda at the Sivananda Yoga Camp in Quebec where I became a certified Yoga teacher My interest in Budhism and Hinduism also led me to meet several Tibetan Lamas and study their teachings and traditions. I live presently in Montreal, Canada but travel frequently teaching Yoga and giving workshops and lectures on spiritual related topics.
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2 Responses to PATIENCE

  1. Richard Silverman says:

    Hello Surya…

    A very lovely writing about mindfulness and patience. Thank you.Witheach passing year I’ve been getting worse. So, lot’s to practice with. I miss being your neighbor and being able to visit. I know you are and will be a wonderful yoga teacher for many people.

    Best wishes to you for a good and healthy new year.

    In Lak’ech, Richard If you want othersto be happy Practice Compassion If you want to be happy Practice Compassion We are Many… We are One..

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