Each day there are plenty of opportunities to practice patience in our lives. However, for both inner and outer reasons, staying still does not come easy for most of us. This is firstly because there is always active in the mind a strong tendency towards becoming, which translates as a desire to move on to the next thing. This can mean that there is always activity going on in thoughts, sometimes useful, sometimes less so, but always leaning forward. Past memories can also rise up and move us, meaning that stuff which happened yesterday or last year can make us feel restless and anxious for resolution now. The energy is always flowing and we tend to get caught up in it. And because the mind is always moving, the body tends to want to move also, and we end up believing that unless we are in some way active we are wasting our life.
It is also true that society today encourages us to see any delay as a waste of time. We have gotten so used to instant results, faster broadband, instant downloads and so on that we are tricked into thinking that this model applies to everything, such as our interior life, or how to respond to setbacks such as illness or job loss, or other transitions in life. However, nature reminds us of a different rhythm, as when we are working in the vegetable garden and observing the tomatoes as they slowly move towards being ripe. Or waiting for the right time to re-seed a lawn, as the weather now is too hot and I will have to wait for a month or two. There is nothing we can do to hurry things up or change the pace at which it is right to go.
If you really aren’t trying to get anywhere else in this moment, patience takes care of itself. It is a remembering that things unfold in their own time. The seasons cannot be hurried. Spring comes, the grass grows by itself. Being in a hurry usually doesn’t help and it can create a great deal of suffering – sometimes in us, sometimes in those who have to be around us. Patience is an ever-present alternative to the mind’s endemic restlessness and impatience. Scratch the surface of impatience and you will find lying beneath it, subtly or not so subtly is anger. It’s the strong energy of not wanting things to be the way they are and blaming someone (often yourself) or something for it.
Jon Kabat Zinn, Wherever you go, There you are