Patience is the quality of tolerance and forbearance, of being able to allow things to come about in a timely way. It overcomes our growing need for instant gratification. Some things in life we have to work for patiently. We can’t always expect to get what we want just because we want it. Many problems that arise in life won’t get resolved quickly, they take time and perseverance, forbearance and patience. Often these things that don’t suddenly happen can turn out to be the most precious of gifts.
In a modern world where we are growing used to getting what we want quickly it is easy to develop a sense of entitlement, stamping our feet, or getting in a huff when things don’t go our way. But with things that are really of value to us and precious it is worth putting forth effort and being patient.
In nature when a seed is planted it takes time for it to bring forth fruit. We may have lost touch with this simple truth and become frustrated by things that don’t reward us instantly. Life is so much more than an expression of our personal will, and there are deeper currents at work within the fabric of life that we need to be aligned with if we are going to maintain an inner and outer balance. The other week I spoke about the energy of the four directions. Patience is most definitely associated with the energy to the south. The attitude of giving things the time they need to come to fruition and completion.
[groups_non_member group=”Registered”]Unfortunately, many of us have become so used to being able to instantly gratify our needs, that we develop real stress when things don’t go our way. We want a book, we order it and it arrives the following day, we want something specific for dinner, it’s at our fingertips. It is easy to forget that some people still have to walk half a day just to get clean drinking water. Even being able to buy things on credit instead of saving up until we can afford them, begins to diminish how we value the things in our lives.
[groups_member group=”Registered”]Unfortunately, many of us have become so used to being able to instantly gratify our needs, that we develop real stress when things don’t go our way. We want a book, we order it and it arrives the following day, we want something specific for dinner, it’s at our fingertips. It is easy to forget that some people still have to walk half a day just to get clean drinking water. Even being able to buy things on credit instead of saving up until we can afford them, begins to diminish how we value the things in our lives.
Each year I take something to learn that I don’t know how to do, something that will take me time and which will not be easy. I do it not just for the joy of it, although that is also an important part, but because it teaches me patience and the ability to put forth sustained effort. In the past few years I learned to play two new musical instruments and to strip down and restore a motorcycle. I am currently learning to draw and paint.
Whatever I have chosen, each project has reinforced my understanding that I ‘can’t have it now’ and has affirmed my willingness to enjoy the journey towards something, rather than getting fixated with the acquisition of it. The journey always ends up being just as rewarding as the end result.
This is particularly important in relation to children. The quality of mind that follows us throughout the life is laid down largely as we grow up. Often after a retreat a parent will ask me what is the best thing they can teach their kids. And I say; ‘Give them things to do that take time, that they don’t complete quickly, that they have to walk away from and come back to.’
And the second thing I say is; ‘Teach them to do things where they have to really pay attention, teach them to concentrate.’ Like for example when you take them camping, the fact that its going to take all day to build the camp and set it up, get the fire sorted and get the food store done and get the tents up; it’s not only going to take time to do it, but it’s going to take perseverance and concentration and application. Many of the ways kids entertain themselves these days are geared towards hyper stimulation and instant reward. This is one of the reasons behind the growing trend of ADHD.
To teach patience and concentration to children in the early stages is such a blessing. For them to learn that we can’t just have something now because we want it prepares us for the life ahead. In a world of constant stimulation and instant gratification, patience is the much-needed antidote. Those who are patient are by nature far more settled and peaceful within them selves than those who expect always to get what they want.
This week, take some time to reflect on your own parami of patience, and see if you can recognise where a lack of it is limiting and hindering you, and where your life feels enriched by the instances when you have found patience. Think about including things in your life that will bring reward on account of the patience you find. Reflect also on the relationship between patience and intolerance, and see if you can identify where a lack of equanimity and acceptance of people and things in life is underpinned by an undercurrent of impatience.[/groups_member]