I have been working a lot on patience recently. It has been present in my practice on the yoga mat in the form of my intention for my practice and in a Sankalpa during my Nidra practice. In Nidra the intention is set as a ‘I am…’ or ‘I can…’ statement and comes from a belief that everything we require we already have within us. For many months I have focused on ‘I am patient and relaxed’ both on and off the yoga mat. This includes patience with my body when I cannot achieve an asana (even if I did it yesterday), with my mind when it wanders away from the present and patience with the world around me when it does not bend to my will or fulfil my expectations immediately.
While it has not been easy, it has been fulfilling. Take the example where I waited patiently for a driver to do a U-turn because the tried to come out of a carpark the wrong way as I was driving in. I could not back up into the busy road behind me so had to wait patiently for them to turn around in a tight spot. I reminded myself ‘I am patient and relaxed’ and even signalled to the man to take his time (the universal dismissive hand wave). Once he had his car turned around he got out, thanked me for my patience and handed me his ticket that still had 2 hours of parking remaining.
Or moments that have had a less immediate reward, for example waiting for the tram when I’m running late, which would normally send me in to a downward stress spiral and have me arrive in a horrible state of mind. But by reminding myself that I have the capacity to be patient, I am able to remain calm and arrive in a much more pleasant mood. (If you’re going to be late you may as well arrive ready to go rather than having to take more time to calm down!!)
So this is all well and good. But there is always that one exception. The thing that defeats all the hard work. Well, mine is bookcases.
I moved into a new house in December and it has zero storage. Literally a small cupboard in the bathroom, a single built in wardrobe in two of the bedrooms and the usual kitchen cupboards. Nothing else: no cupboards in the laundry, no linen cupboard, nothing. I have a lot of books. Not ‘a lot’ as in 50, but ‘a lot’ as in 1oos. So we decided to get built in bookshelves and asked a family friend, who has done work for my parents in the past, to make them for our front room.
In the meantime we have boxes and boxes of books and files and CDs and DVDs in the garage and have not yet decorated the front room. Which is fine. For a few months. But now I’m running out of patience coz the guy keeps not calling me. I have a phone call with him and he tells me he’s not at his desk but will call as soon as he is. So a week later I chase him up only to find he’s not at his desk again. I am ready to give up but my parents (who are amazing and are paying for these) keep telling me to be patient ‘because he’s worth it’. So I am living with a constant reminder of these unmade bookcases and every time I think about it I get angry. And I cannot. be. patient.
But then the other day I asked myself- what if I can be patient with this too? Ok I can’t decorate the room yet, or turn it into what I want it to be. But what can I do?
So I called Karen, and we had a crafty evening and I made cushion covers for the soon-to-be-completed room (that-may-never-be-completed-but-now-I-have-lovely-cushion-covers). I found patience in the part I could control. And in doing something I enjoy. Maybe that is what patience is. Directing attention away from the things that don’t serve us and focusing on those that do.
And I have some pretty awesome fabrics to make more cushions for the next time I’m feeling impatient.