Being patient is not something people seem to do well. On the contrary, we pile on the pressure, push the boundaries and demand results, impatient to get what we want. It can be self-limiting since it sets up resistance in the universe and the more we push, the harder it gets. The cycle of impatience is resisted by others and within us too. There’s another self inside crying out for attention and not getting heard.
We’re all in a rush to get somewhere, get something done, short of time, too much going on, on a deadline, other people demanding something, feeling guilty for not delivering, afraid we’ll be late, can’t stop, must get on, sorry not now, I’m too busy. You can hear the excuses. Think about the person tailgating you in their car or walking down the street with someone breathing down your neck. Or you doing it to someone else. Why don’t they hurry up or get out of the way?! Breathing expletives under your breath, muttering curses to your environment.
It’s a lot of pressure that we put ourselves under, mainly at our own expense in the end, as our bodies suffer long-term from accumulated stress.
Patience by contrast means allowing things to be, giving things time, waiting knowing all will be well, being present rather than in the future. It includes acceptance or tolerance. We don’t get into negative emotions like irritation, annoyance, or anger, nor be anxious or worry. It’s not an impatience being held at bay, since that’s an inauthenticity because the real underlying sense is impatience. It involves letting go of negativity and any thoughts that cut across patience.
It’s counter-cultural since so much of current society is bound up in multiple requirements done at speed and in being driven to achieve, which many people place as virtues.
Mindfulness practice involves being patient. Acceptance and allowing are central. If we are to let go of incessant thinking and be present, and if we are to make contact with inner stillness of being, we have to find a way to let go of impatience. We need to give ourselves time for the practice. Allowing things to be enables us to gently explore within. We become more able to make contact with our subtle experiencing, and very slowly and gradually this subtle level of being opens up to us.
Placing pressures on ourselves undermines that. Being still caught up in stuff and feeling the anger or fear of all that pressure cuts right across the subtlety of being, and drives away all the accumulated merit of the practice.
Someone who knows patience is unattached to what happens. They are able to let go and be. They can thus experience the joy of being.
Living like we do in our society we lose the real joy of life. Thus do we suffer.
But it doesn’t have to be like this. We can just be, if we choose.