At the end of my recent nine day training at the Kripalu Yoga Center in Lenox, Massachusetts, I was asked to reflect on what I wanted to remember about being there and the teachings I learned. If I reduced this to two words, they would be “patience” and “letting go.”
For me, patience most often happens when I have taken the time to center myself in the morning in preparation for the day ahead. Then, throughout the day, using my breath to relax and soften into life just as it is has been invaluable. Maybe it’s a “letting go” breath (deep breath in, big exhale with a sigh) or maybe it’s a longer meditation that’s required and it can mean the difference from being caught in striving or centering softly into the present.
It’s guaranteed that every day will undoubtedly have delays, setbacks, challenges, and agendas of other people that come into conflict with my idea of how things should be. In fact, I had to take a break while writing this blog about patience to run an errand. On my way there, someone was driving way too slow in my estimation and didn’t turn left when “he should have” during the yellow light. I felt my blood pressure rise and then had to have a good laugh about the irony of it.
This is where “letting go” comes in. Without the ability to let go and let be, it is very difficult to have patience. Daily life requires that you let go or suffer. The lives of others do not revolve around an agenda we create for everyone to follow, though, I’ve secretly thought that this would be very cool. Alas, it will never happen. So, it’s better to accept the reality that life is messy and is not usually concerned with my agenda or go at my pace.
I can still work at accomplishing the things I need to get done, but not at the expense of someone else’s feelings. At the end of the day, if I have succeeded or not or how much I get done will not be the measure of my life, but how I made others feel. If I create harm in the world through my striving, whatever I build will be tarnished. When I’m impatient, I feel bad and so do those I come in contact with. My lesson then is to remember to make patience, not accomplishment the most compelling thing I can do.
I admit that patience is not a quality I would list in my top five. However, patience is a quality I would like to improve and strengthen so that one day it might get top billing. I recently just re-watched a portion of the new Mr. Rogers documentary. If you want a lesson in patience, love, and presence, take a look at “Won’t You Be My Neighbor.”
I often like to set an intention when I’m practicing the Warrior II pose with my gaze set intently on my middle finger. My intention these days is patience. I hope that when I move into Exalted Warrior with my forward hand reaching for the sky, I can be a Warrior for Patience and overcome my need for things to be anything other than they are.
Meet me on the yoga mat and let’s set our good intentions together. ~Lynn