11-4-18 Actively Patient

Actively Patient

Patience (or forbearing) is the state of endurance under difficult circumstances, which can mean persevering in the face of delay or provocation without reacting with annoyance or anger.

Patience is one of the “perfections” in Buddhism that one trains in and practices in everyday life. The Buddhist concept of patience is distinct from the English definition of the word. In Buddhism, patience refers to not returning harm, rather than merely enduring a difficult situation. It is the ability to control one’s emotions even when being criticized or attacked.

Patience, in Hindu philosophy, is also the capacity to wait, to endure opposites such as pain and pleasure calmly, to not seek revenge or hold a resentment. It’s to be without the desire to extend pleasure artificially, such as indulging in an addiction to fog our feelings and momentarily feel good. Ahimsa (non-violence) is not being violent to any living being at any time through one’s actions, with the words one speaks or writes, or in one’s thoughts.

“I noticed that being patient gave rise to a feeling of equanimity—a calmness of mind that makes it easier to ride life’s ups and downs without being tossed about like a boat in a storm. Seeing the correlation between patience and enhanced self-compassion and equanimity convinced me of the value of this practice.” Psychology Today

  1. Recognize that impatience has arisen. So, start by setting the intention to watch for impatience arising in your own mind as a response to not getting what you want right away. We tend to expect people to conform to our expectations. They ought to behave the way we think they should behave. We want some task or chore go without a hitch, just the way we projected we wanted it to go. NOTICE when impatience begins to arise. We have the capacity to notice; we have an awareness that impatience is visiting us. Our ego begins to balloon out and takes over any intelligence or peace. In meditation, this is when we have an awareness that we are thinking; our attention has moved from our breath to a thought.
  2. Investigate and acknowledge how impatience feels in your mind and in your body. We can’t begin to transform a stressful mental state until we accept that we’re caught up in it. Simply notice and accept it, without acting on it. Work on becoming well-acquainted with how impatience feels. You may feel a tightness, like “This isn’t going the way I want it to,” or an urge to verbally get aggressive and angry, probably with blame.
  3. Begin to transform impatience into patience. This takes practice—patient practice. And because patience is an act of self-compassion, we need to treat ourselves with compassion when we’re unable to be patient. When we know we are feeling impatient, we breathe and smile. We breathe and re-set our mind to remain calm and present with its task.

“Have patience with the entire world, but first of all with yourself.”  St. Francis de Sales

Finally, about those unrealistic expectations that we should be able to control our minds: Instead of getting impatient (i.e., upset or angry) about what arises in our minds, can we work on holding unwelcome thoughts and emotions more lightly, even sometimes with humor over the mind’s unruliness? As we are taught in meditation, the mind goes in many directions. We DO NOT have to follow. We can watch and enjoy the show, choosing to return to our breath and patience.

At some point, you will come face to face with the sudden and shocking realization that you are completely crazy. Your mind is a shrieking, gibbering madhouse on wheels barreling pell-mell down the hill, utterly out of control and hopeless. No problem. If you don’t have a problem with that, you will have an awareness, a patience with the craziness, and perhaps a bit of a laugh. You will not have to indulge it or deny it. Just watch it, and then go on your patient way. You are NOT your thoughts.

“The basis of Right Action is to do everything in mindfulness.” Thich Nhat Hanh

We can be aware of how we are feeling before we act, and mindfully choose a course of action that will promote and further a peaceful and inclusive action, not a selfish, reactionary action. Consider the other person’s point of view also. How often do we actually do that? It is hard to drop our game plan and our need to have the outcome turn our way. We wonder why THEY don’t see our point of view better. Why are they so stupid?

With patience and awareness, which we have to want to begin using more, we can actively work on letting go of an impatient thought and action. Even though our old behaviors are well entrenched, we CAN begin changing from a sense of striking out or dissatisfaction, which is ego-enriching and kind of juicy, to a mindset of standing fully in the light of  patience. The reward is a wonderful sense of peace and progress.

How many times a day do we become impatient with small things? Temperature isn’t quite right, dropped something, traffic is slow, can’t find my shirt, water takes too long to get warm, car needs gas, kids making noise, dishes, etc. We are unconsciously adding drops of dissatisfaction to our bucket of our life-energies, and it can become the negative underlying foundation we function from.  

I truly wish to be fully in life, with clear eyes and mind, to live with a sense of dignity and compassion. My addiction clouded my vision terribly, and brought much suffering. My behavior even today of engaging negative energies (habits) reinforces those pathways and will continue to bring suffering.

To actively address our suffering, we need to take action on any aspects that keep us in chains.

Tension/stress saps our mental and spiritual energies and is a major factor in physical illness as well. We have the capacity to feel the current, the flow, and to use it to guide ourselves. We can then help others through the difficult tides and times, with a sense of acting rightfully and with an open heart. We begin to find our foundation of peace through patience. Right action follows naturally.

When we enter the present moment with curiosity, openness and acceptance, we feel life and what we are capable of. There is the sense of everything opening outward instead of everything being poisoned inward. We let go of our judgments and become calmer and more peaceful.


How do you fill your bucket? One drop at a time.

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.

The great arises out of small things that are honored and cared for.

Heart of Recovery web site — fcheartofrecovery.com