I'm a patient person, or at least that's what I thought. This last month of post-surgical rest has taught me that, while I'm patient with others, I don't always afford that same grace to myself. It made me think about patience with others, ourselves, and how it relates to our yoga practice.
We live in a fast paced society. Technology and the ability to connect with people all over the world is super awesome, however it has changed our expectations of how long things take compared to our expectations 20 years ago. No longer do we have one landline phone fixed to the wall in our house; gone are the days that if you were out, eating dinner or watching your favorite TV show, the phone-call could wait. Kids TV competitions had answers on a postcard with the winners announced a whole month later. Pen-pals would send a couple of letters a month. Shopping on a Sunday meant waiting for the shops to open on Monday! Things took time. Waiting was part of life and patience was something we got to practice daily.
Now we text and expect a response right away, emails arrive instantly and we often feel we must respond immediately. Shopping online 24/7, next day delivery, faster cars, credit cards, movies on demand, instant music downloads and the promises of adverts on TV to 'lose weight fast', have 'free next day delivery' and of course 'why wait for….. '.
We are becoming used to getting what we want immediately, right now, and feel impatient when things don't go as we planned. We're so used to instant and fast, that we cram our days full to the brim with no room to spare, and are intolerant of those who move slower than we planned. We feel agitated at a slow server at the supermarket checkout, and grow tense when we're behind someone driving below the speed limit. Impatience creates stress and anger that we share with anyone who dares to get in our way, and stresses out the people who are trying to meet our hurried expectations.
Not only are our expectations of others set higher and faster, we have less patience for the journey and work required to master any skill or to change something for the better in our own lives. We want to be good, (no, great!) at things straight away and we want to see the results of our new habits immediately.
How does this all relate to yoga? Sometimes we bring our fast paced, go-go-go energy to the yoga class, rushing through movements and transitions. We can be impatient in with ourselves when we want to be able to do a new pose immediately. Many abandon a daily meditation practice because they don't see the results right away.
Yoga teacher Judith Lassater said 'We are either in the flow with the speed of what's happening, or we are impatient'. Impatience is wanting to fast forward life; our minds are in the future rather than in the present moment.
Being patient is not 'giving in' and it doesn't mean we shouldn't try to achieve things and have goals. Cultivating more patience is about being present on our journey, lowering our stress levels, reducing resistance to things that happen outside of our control, and increasing feelings of contentment and happiness.
Our yoga practice is the perfect time to practice patience. This week we'll focus on the speed of our transitions and we'll practice cultivating feelings of contentment for where we are in the journey rather than rushing to master a difficult pose. We'll learn some ways to calm the mind and stop our ingrained habits in their tracks, so that the next time you feel the sensation bubbling up you can stop and enjoy the moment. No longer will impatience be a cloud in your day (or the day of anyone who might have got in your way!).
Check back through the week for quotes, journal prompts and more!