I was talking with an associate of mine about, what my son calls the P word, Patience. She said when she used to preach about it, she would say, “God I need patience, and I need it now.” The interesting thing about patience is that we have the capability of being patient at any point in time in our lives. We just have to choose to work what a friend of mine calls the patience muscle.
Unlike things like time which we all have the same amount of regardless who we are. regardless of our race, ethnicity, sexuality, class, sex, etc. we all have 24 hours in a day, 60 minutes in an hour, and 60 seconds in a minute. What we do with those 24 hours may differ, but we all have the same amount of time in a single day. Patience, unlike time, is one quality one can acquire greater levels of over time. The secret is in working your P muscle. As many wisdom teachers have argued, the more you practice patient, the more patient you become. This is not to suggest that patience is a muscle; rather that through the practice of patience, one develops one’s ability to remain and stay patient.
One of the great teachers of patience is life. there are in most people’s lives, those moments where one can feel as if something just rained on their parade, stole their joy, ruined their weekend, etc. the reality is that when we look back on those moments, we see that whatever it was we were going through passed and we made it through. Sometimes life itself can teach us to be patient.
Most people have mastered impatience; we do not need more of that. Being patient requires practice. It requires us making the active choice to not be impatient. Impatience can come from a number of directions and experiences; however, it is generally in response to the experience of a feeling which is not positive. So maybe some body said or did something which made you angry. “She just pissed me off.” the reality is that you are not angry, you are feeling anger. Feelings are not permanent, they are transitional. Whatever happened which triggered feelings of anger in you are not who you are, nor are they going to last forever. When we recognize that the impermanence of that which trigger our acting out of impatience, then we can begin to practice being patient and remember that this feeling will pass.
Patience begins with us. It can begin by allowing ourselves to move through what we are feeling. It is not what we are; it is what we are feeling. When we allow ourselves to move through the feelings without reacting to the feelings, we are practicing patience. So often, we tend to react to what we are feeling because we have not yet mastered the patience within ourselves to move through the feeling and know that this too will pass.
When we react out of impatience, we can create situations which we later regret saying or doing. So much of the suffering in our lives could be eliminated if we could just practice the art of patience. The hardest thing about patience is giving ourselves the time to work through and understand the roots of our impatience.
It is not that we need more patience now; it is that we need to learn how to practice using the patience which we already have so that we can become increasingly patient with ourselves and others. So just for today, take a moment and pause before you react and give yourself the time to move through the desire to act impatiently. Take a moment to find out what is at the root of your impatience.