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The Power of Patience

--by Sharon Salzberg (Feb 10, 2014)


If we can be quieter, more in the moment with what is actually happening, a world of perception opens up for us based on where we are, not on where we one day hope to be. "Nobody sees a flower, really; it is so small," said artist Georgia O'Keeffe. "We haven't time, and to see takes time, like to have a friend takes time." If we learn to take a little more time and be more fully aware of just where we are, we might see many new flowers and have many more friends.

One way of describing an ability to hold our convictions without drawing premature conclusions, feeling automatically defeated, or losing sight of what goodness life might be offering us today is the old-fashioned virtue patience. Despite the common misconception, having patience doesn't mean making a pact with the devil of denial, ignoring our emotions and aspirations. It means being wholeheartedly engaged in the process that's unfolding, rather than yanking up our carrots, ripping open a budding flower, demanding a caterpillar hurry up and get that chrysalis stage over with.

True patience isn't gritting one's teeth and saying, "I'll bear with this for another five minutes because I'm sure it will be over by then and something better will come along." Patience isn't dour, and it isn't unhappy. It's a steady strength that we apply to each experience we face. If the situation calls for action, we must take it - patience doesn't mean inertia or complacence. Instead, it gives us a courageous dedication to the long haul, along with the willingness to connect with the multilayered truth of what is right here.

Are those of us not naturally blessed with patience doomed to yell at our children or our forgetful parents, litter our office floors with disemboweled computer parts (or at least threaten to), or berate ourselves each time we fail to live up to our own expectations? Or can we cultivate a new way of responding?

Anytime we're waiting - for the checkout person to ring us up, for the doctor's office to call, for a friend who has hurt us to apologize - we can remember we're alive right now. We can be determined to use this moment as a vehicle for paying attention, for growing, for opening.

Whenever we're pushing against what is, as though if we tried hard enough we could force the tempo of change, we can take a breath. Whatever our vision for how things should be in the future, we can make sure we do the very next thing we need to do today. And whenever we're in a fury of impatient resentment because our companion is walking too slowly or the mail came too late or we're being ignored or we can't concentrate or we can't name what we want - or any of the countless everyday things we find hard, we can remind ourselves of what is good right now. Then, as we work to redress what is wrong, the belligerence, agitation, and frustration will drain out of our "now," and the word can become a declaration of purpose and strength, supported by the gentle, developing power of patience.


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24 Previous Reflections:

 
On Sep 20, 2015 Nancy wrote:

Once a corporate officer ,time was an enemy as I never had enough of it.  I had to manage, motivate and assure  targets were met as well as budgets and revenue projections. As a Human Doing, patience was not one of my virtues. It took a near fatal car accident and in a rehab hospital for 3 1/2 years for me to become a Human Being. With new maturity,  I saw that Time is life. It takes Time to heal. I learned to Trust. I could not control the outcome.But I could work on my behalf. I learned to meditate, visualize and dream. I learned to be partners with Breath. Back in the world, I saw I had a choice to bring my maturity with me.When I don't,  I catch myself and just breathe. Later when I review my day I forgive my lack of compassion where I did not just breathe into the situation. This is ongoing as I am no saint. I AM A HUMAN BEING! I am a work in progress learning to respect ALL. See the words earth and heart in the word Breathe? Well the Aether is there as well.  See full.

Once a corporate officer ,time was an enemy as I never had enough of it.  I had to manage, motivate and assure  targets were met as well as budgets and revenue projections. As a Human Doing, patience was not one of my virtues.

It took a near fatal car accident and in a rehab hospital for 3 1/2 years for me to become a Human Being. With new maturity,  I saw that Time is life. It takes Time to heal. I learned to Trust. I could not control the outcome.But I could work on my behalf. I learned to meditate, visualize and dream. I learned to be partners with Breath.

Back in the world, I saw I had a choice to bring my maturity with me.When I don't,  I catch myself and just breathe. Later when I review my day I forgive my lack of compassion where I did not just breathe into the situation. This is ongoing as I am no saint. I AM A HUMAN BEING! I am a work in progress learning to respect ALL.

See the words earth and heart in the word Breathe? Well the Aether is there as well. The Aether the 5th element is Chi/Prana: Breath. Hate is there as well. All life is a choice. Hate is fear. I prefer to send out love with my breath. Love and Fear cannot co-exist. Namaste.

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On Sep 20, 2015 Michael wrote:

 
It means stopping and be silent, 30 secs, a minute, 20 mints....Whatever it takes....This helps me see myself and slow it down................ 



On Sep 20, 2015 Michael wrote:

 True Patience takes Kindness..... 



On Feb 14, 2014 B2 wrote:

 The passage reminded me of a quote by Lao Tzu, "nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished."



1 reply: Always | Post Your Reply
On Feb 12, 2014 Varsha wrote:

 Hi Sharon,
Ive been trying hard to figure out what I want to do with my life at age 32. Im married and not working. Im always confused about what to do with my free time. I keep wavering in my head from learning a language to taking up yoga for teaching purpose. But i can never stop at one point and say, "this is it. this is what I want to do forever"

This makes me very impatient and frustrated. I keep changing my mind too often. What do u think I should do. I need a real goal in life to get more focused and feel my worth. Pls help.

Varsha



On Feb 11, 2014 Lazar gnanam wrote:

 As per me, patience is awareness of the situation and acceptance of the reality without any agitation and exaggeration, denial and defense of that particular situation, dealing it with positive belief, confidence and courage,faith and trust.



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On Feb 11, 2014 Peter wrote:

 When I'm waiting in a line, or any time I feel impatience arise, I use it as a signal to come back to my body. I feel and observe the sensations in my body, the aliveness, and I feel and observe my breath. When I do this the universe often opens up and I'm not waiting any more. I'm not anticipating the future. I become here. The energy changes enormously. It goes from a vibration of negativity (which everyone picks up) to a vibration of happiness and love (which everyone picks up).



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On Feb 9, 2014 Jagdish P Dave wrote:

 When I introduce my full name- Jagdish P Dave- I always say P is for patience. And I mean it. Patience has helped me to listen to the other person with full attention. Not hearing, but listening helps me to be connected with the other person. The other person feels valued, cared for and understood- the basic ingredients of connectedness. Patience also helps me to remain relaxed and empathize with the other person.  When someone is eager to share an idea or something that troubles him, I mindfully refrain myself from abruptly expressing my point of view or offering  a suggestion. or an advice. Our conversation becomes deeper and richer. When someone keeps on talking on and on, I feel impatient. This is the time that is challenging for me. I do not want to offend him, and I do not want to pretend that I am listening to him. I become mindful of the impact  of his behavior on me-my impatience, my irritation and my inclinati  See full.

 When I introduce my full name- Jagdish P Dave- I always say P is for patience. And I mean it. Patience has helped me to listen to the other person with full attention. Not hearing, but listening helps me to be connected with the other person. The other person feels valued, cared for and understood- the basic ingredients of connectedness. Patience also helps me to remain relaxed and empathize with the other person. 

When someone is eager to share an idea or something that troubles him, I mindfully refrain myself from abruptly expressing my point of view or offering  a suggestion. or an advice. Our conversation becomes deeper and richer. When someone keeps on talking on and on, I feel impatient. This is the time that is challenging for me. I do not want to offend him, and I do not want to pretend that I am listening to him. I become mindful of the impact  of his behavior on me-my impatience, my irritation and my inclination to ask him to stop talking for ever. I take a few deep breaths and summarize what I heard from him. Then I respond. I do not want to react to him which is a sure way of cutting the thread of communication.

Standing in a line in a grocery store with a few items in my hands in front of a customer with a full cart load of items
is another trying situation for me. I use this time for relaxing and quieting my mind. Interestingly, when I take this stance, I empathize with the person and feel for him. When I drive and when I am in a hurry, the red light stares in front of me. instead of cursing the red light, I take this waiting as an opportunity for me to take a few relaxing breaths.
 
In the fast paced world we live in, an ongoing challenge is how to deal with my impatience without reacting and without stuffing my stress in my body and mind. I find taking deep belly breaths very helpful. And the good thing about it is that I can do it any time and anywhere. It is good for me and for the people with me and around me. Live long Patience!

Jagdish P Dave

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On Feb 7, 2014 david doane wrote:

 To me, patience means staying in the present, in the process, attentive to and responsive to what is happening inside of me and in the situation.  "It means being wholeheartedly engaged in the process that is unfolding" as the author says so well, rather than pushing for what I want to happen according to my schedule and in my way.  It's a process of watching, listening, allowing, without interfering or imposing, without trying to manipulate or control.  It may involve expressing or processing out loud my thoughts and feelings without pushing to make anything happen.  In this kind of engaging in and interacting with the process that is unfolding, action taken is truly in response to what is happening, and it's fitting.  I think of lambing.  We raise sheep and have had more than a hundred lambs born here, and I've learned something about patience in lambing.  I've learned to watch and listen, allow nature to do its thing, not rush the process or  See full.

 To me, patience means staying in the present, in the process, attentive to and responsive to what is happening inside of me and in the situation.  "It means being wholeheartedly engaged in the process that is unfolding" as the author says so well, rather than pushing for what I want to happen according to my schedule and in my way.  It's a process of watching, listening, allowing, without interfering or imposing, without trying to manipulate or control.  It may involve expressing or processing out loud my thoughts and feelings without pushing to make anything happen.  In this kind of engaging in and interacting with the process that is unfolding, action taken is truly in response to what is happening, and it's fitting.  I think of lambing.  We raise sheep and have had more than a hundred lambs born here, and I've learned something about patience in lambing.  I've learned to watch and listen, allow nature to do its thing, not rush the process or interfere, be responsive to what is happening, be ready to help quickly and decisively when help is truly needed and essentially being asked for, and not do too much which is likely to cause harm.  I've learned that less is enough, that is, give just the intervention needed and no more, and then back off, get out of the way, let the process unfold, let the miracle happen.

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On Feb 7, 2014 Conrad P Pritscher wrote:

 Sharon Salzburg is great. I love what she said. I find, after many many years, that I'm becoming a little more patient with my impatience. Every day I say a few sentences one of which is: "May I be patient. May I be able to bear and forbear the wrongs of others." It may be useful for some to hear that I have been working on being patient for 40 or 60 years and only recently have I begun to accept some of my impatience. When I'm in the now I am more patient. I am better now at accepting that I am not often in the now. Thank you for the opportunity to respond. Warm and kind regards to everyone



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On Feb 7, 2014 Chandrakant Mishra wrote:

 To me patience is a source for perseverance, which in turn develops strength for facing the arduous fronts of life.