Patience – धैर्य dhairy
written by Leonie
“Adopt the pace of nature. Her secret is Patience.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson
Since I have kids, patience has become overly important - patience with them and patience with myself. Patience is what I'm seeking for right now, during our third week of quarantine at home with my 1,5 year old twins. I take the time to write this focus when they sleep - at noon and at night. I am learning to be patient when they are sick and I can't work on my heart project, when I have to wait for weeks before putting my ideas into action. Patience when they want something so badly that they won't stop crying and patience when they walk one way while I want to walk another. I think impatience is one of the reasons why many of us wait so long before having children. We want to walk our own path, follow our career, reach our goals without looking left or right. Impatience is a virtue in a system that requires profits. To be successful in this system - through the eyes of others -requires to be impatient. I know that I am not always patient, just like many people I know. With this focus, I invite you and me to open up for a little more patience in life with ourselves and with others.
Patience is the ability to initiate things without waiting for results. Patience also means to tolerate life conditions as they are even if we wouldn’t label them as enjoyable or nice. Patience with others means tolerating them the way they are without waiting for them to change.
During these last years, we all had to practice patience in some way as limitations like lockdown or quarantine restrictions changed the world we used to know. Before Corona, we thought we know what to expect from life – studying or going to work, meeting friends, going out at night, children taken care of at school or kindergarten. With the start of the pandemic around two year ago, all that we took for granted was suddenly questioned. For many of us, it was a mental burden to deal with the insecurities that came up. We all faced an abrupt change in life that we may experienced as uncomfortable, displeasing and painful for many.
The virtue of patience softens emotional reactions and therefore can improve our mental wellbeing. It is not easy to acquire, especially when we are young, energetic and willing to get things done. However, patience can be cultivated through the practice of yoga and mindfulness. If you are looking for inspiration on patience, spend some time in nature. "A flower does not think of competing with the flower next to it, it just blooms, is a well known quote by Zen Shin. When you have an intention that you are working on, think of it as a seed that you plant. Plant it into the earth and then water it regularly with the resources of time and energy that you have. You can’t force it to bloom the harder you try. You can only trust and patiently wait for the fruits to grow.
In our yoga practice, forward folds reflect the virtue of patience by bowing down and metaphorically letting go of our ego mind. Our ego self is the force within that drives impatience because it differentiates oneself from others, trying to acquire something before others do. It is a very human desire that can be found in little children already. Being mindful and reflecting on our thoughts and emotions helps to overcome this desire step-by-step which leads to a softer and healthier mind. Our yoga practice is a great time to start. When we practice forward folds, it’s very common to compare each time how close we come to reaching our toes. Being able to reach the toes is often seen as a sign for the yoga practice to unfold and seeing ‘results’ of that practice. However, the hamstrings are a body tissue that naturally takes a lot of time to release and we can’t really control this process, we can only practice and wait patiently for that practice to unfold.
The more patience we develop in the small things of life, the easier it will be to patiently tolerate the more difficult situations in life like a worldwide pandemic that severely restricts our daily life. Start that practice on your mat through self-reflection and patience will start to unfold. These are the thoughts that we are aiming to overcome:
Self-judgements - 'I am not flexible enough', 'I am not strong enough' as well as 'wow, I am so flexible', 'I look great in this pose'. Both are judgements and opinions that strengthen the identification with the ego. Instead, invite a thought like 'My posture is as beautiful as the postures of all other people in the room'.
Comparisons - 'I am not able to go as far as the teacher' or 'The person next to me is much more flexible than me'. Yoga is not about how far we get into a pose. It is about cultivating a healthy mind. No one can see what is going on in your mind, so no one will know how advanced you are in your yoga practice. There is no comparison in the true sense of yoga.
Feeling sorry for oneself - 'Why does this injury keep me from doing this pose?'. Treat your pain with compassion. Each injury reveals something about our body and teaches us to be more patient.
People pleasing - The teacher says 'Sink deeper into the pose' but you feel pain or discomfort in that body part when you go deeper. You don't have to follow all instructions to please the teacher. When you feel that a pose is not good for you, allow yourself to find a variation that feels better. Be brave. Tell the teacher about it when he or she asks you.
Show yourself compassion for how you practice asana on any given day—there are no ‘good’ or ‘bad’ days, just different days.
“Do your practice and all is coming" -K. Pattabhi Jois
- Full Yogic Breathing in cross-legged seat or in Supta Badha Konasana
- Shuni Mudra - press the tip of your thumb (representing the ego) and the tip of your middle finger together, forming a circle; remaining fingers extend out
- What can I do to develop more patience?
- What would change if I was more patient? How would I feel? What would I think? How would I act differently from now?
- Supta Padangusthasana - Reclining Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose
- Uttanasana - Standing Forward Fold
- Ardha Uttanasana - Half Forward Fold
- Prasarita Padottanasana – Wide-legged Standing Forward Bend
- Pashimottanasana – Seated Forward Fold
- Janu Sirsasana - Head-to-knee Pose
Find more inspiration on Patience here: