The yoga of patience

Patience is accepting the unknown, indefinitely.  When we cultivate patience, we accept things as they are, for as long as they are meant to be that way.  This does not mean that we sit passively on the sidelines waiting for the sky to fall.  It means that we work steadily and conscientiously on our work, leaving everything that is not ours in peace.

What is our work?  Evidently it will differ from person to person, and we all probably have more than one important task to which we must apply ourselves.  But, if I may generalize, the work of yoga is the work of consciousness, the transformation of matter into mind into light.  Were are completing the process of photosynthesis, which is the conversion of light into carbohydrate.

Our work, therefore, is to become progressively happier, ever lighter.  When we allow ourselves to become light, we effect change on those around us.  These changes are usually just the ones that the impatient person sets out to change rapidly and forcefully.  Say we have a conflict at work:  the yogi meditates on the nature of the problem, turns it around and perceives it clearly from the other person’s point of view, allows the dust to settle, then uses the gentlest words available to quietly resolve or at least begin to resolve the problem.  The impatient person perceives the conflict.  If they are lucky enough not to burst right then and there, they go home and fume about it, thinking of all the cutting ripostes they were too slow to come up with at the time.  The next day, things get off to a good start, but at the slightest provocation everything flares up again and words are said in haste, often resulting in more misunderstanding.  Of course, this outcome is not only the result of impatience, but impatience is part of it.  Yoga cultivates patience, towards ourselves and others.  When you find yourself becoming impatient, breathe slowly and exhale fully.  Then look afresh and see if anything has changed.

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