P A T I E N C E has become my one-word mantra.
But it sure as hell hasn’t always been.
I used to think that patience was one of the worst things ever. As I previously understood it, patience was about not having what I wanted and having to just kind of wait around for when the time was right to have it, which may in fact be never. There was nothing fun or satisfying about that for me. I couldn’t find any relaxation in my understanding of patience, and so didn’t care to have much anything to do with it, the miserable state of being that I understood it to be.
But being chronically impatient wasn’t really working for me either.
And so some things happened in my life that got me seeking a revision to the age-old virtue. Instead of patience being an anticipation of something that isn’t here yet (and may never be), patience is actually about being okay with things exactly as they are.
Patience is not about the future, patience is about presence.
Now this, I can relax into. I can find myself here -- because here is all there is. And with this reappraisal of a word I’ve more or less abhorred for the better part of my existence, I’m now falling deeply in love.
To be patient is to be calm. If you’re trying to be patient, the effort and angst that go along with the trying counteracts the simple allowing that patience requires. It’s not a state or quality to strive for, but a state to return to through awareness and acceptance of the moment. When we return to the now, we get to swim with the current, rather than against it, which is what we’re doing when we are wishing things to be some other way than they are. As long as there’s a desire for things to be different, patience and therefore peace, don’t stand a chance.
Patience is not stagnation. It’s actually one of the best things we can offer ourselves for the most radical and positive shifts. Think about the difference between making decisions fueled by a desperate need for things to be otherwise, versus when they naturally arise from a calm trusting that all is happening in perfect order.
Which leads me to my next feeling on the matter, which is that patience is a choice. Albeit a pretty constant choice that requires a lot of re-remembering. We get to choose, over and over again to be aware of what our minds are doing. We get to choose to connect back to our breath, and discover something precious or intriguing in our immediate vicinity when we notice ourselves in discontentment, craving something that isn’t here.
This is why my mantra is only one word right now. To remind me that it’s really quite simple. And it doesn’t require being a hard-core yogi, or a meditating monk, or an enlightened prophet to be present and okay with what is. It’s something we all have access to. And it’s something that I, personally, need to be constantly reminded of. Hence the one-word mantra.
It’s been said that impatience is the root of violence and war. And when I think about how I feel when I’m experiencing impatience, it's irritation at best, which is most definitely a shade of violence.
And so think of it this way, when we make a choice for patience, genuine patience for how things are, just as they are, and how we are, just as we are, and how others are, just as they are, we are making a contribution to world peace. Because as within so without, and so it is.
May your now be your happy place.
again and again and again.