The Importance of Patience

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I’ve mentioned before that my mother is practically the holy saint of patience. At least when it comes to my sister and me. I have seen her lose her temper at my grandma or my dad a few times, but whenever it comes to her kids, she seems to have a limitless supply of time, compassion, and understanding. I have always been dazzled by this impressive character trait. I’m not sure why, but I certainly didn’t seem to have any of that passed down to me.

I can still remember my mother playfully commenting on my lack of patience when I was younger. I didn’t think much of it. I’ve always known that I am a very impatient person. I guess part of me just assumed that I’d get better at it as I got older. And that has happened somewhat. I certainly have more than I did as a child, but still no where near as much as my mother or my grandmother.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately because I have been spending time with my mom doing various tedious adult things like taxes and looking for a new car. She is very slow and meticulous with everything that she does. That’s how she drives, that’s how she eats, that’s how she communicates. I would imagine almost a serene, monk-like state existing behind her eyes if I didn’t know how anxious she actually is a lot of the time under the surface. When I spend time with her like this, it really emphasizes our different levels of patience.

Although, I generally restrain myself for as long as I can, I always feel the urge to start rushing her through things. Her slow pace makes me feel even more frantic for some reason. I begin to feel like jumping out of my skin. I’ve started to wonder how different it would feel to be a more patient person like her. She never seems to be rushing herself like I perpetually am. This sense of urgency really exacerbates my anxiety and it is ever present. Even when I find myself doing something for the purpose of killing time, I notice myself flying through it as fast as I can.

This lack of patience even comes up in my yoga practice. Most people would assume that the faster vinyasa flow classes or power yoga would be the most challenging, but really it depends on the person and what it is you’re wanting to challenge. Sure, those types of classes may be more physically challenging, but the slower classes are far more mentally challenging if you ask me. I am able to easily lose myself and surrender to the fast-paced movements of strenuous flows, but holding a seated forward fold in a yin yoga class can really test my ability to relax and stay with the breath. I notice a lot of students who also really struggle to relax and just lie there at the end of class in savasana.

Life already seems to be flying by at break-neck speed without the added stress of internal urgency. Sometimes it’s important to stop and ask ourselves exactly why we are rushing. Occasionally there is good reason, maybe your running late and need to get to work on time for a meeting, or you have to squeeze a lot of important tasks into the few free hours of your day. I’d imagine most people are able to relax after meeting whatever deadline they were so frantic to meet, but for me that sense of “not enough time” will keep following me long after.

It’s almost humorous how much I rush myself along. I rush to make coffee, to brush my teeth, to cook dinner, to workout, to get dressed, basically anything you can think of. I’ve gotten more speeding tickets than I’d like to admit. Earlier today I realized that I am also rushing myself in other ways. I never allow myself the time and space I need to meet my goals or aspirations. Because of the unrealistic time frames I always give myself to make changes, I always end up feeling like a failure or that I’m just not good enough. I end up giving up on what I set out to do before I’ve even given myself a fair chance. I never let myself simply enjoy the process.

Practicing mindfulness and meditation has been a wonderful help to me. They help me remind myself that I am exactly where I need to be. I am doing exactly what I need to be doing. It is worth more to do something well than to do it quickly. A rushing mindset is practically the opposite of mindfulness. I am always focusing on the next thing I have to do, ignoring the task I’m currently engaged in. Always struggling to be ahead of the current rather than letting it carry me. Most of the time when I ask myself what the purpose of this hurrying is, I come up blank. It is so easy for me to forget that life truly is about the journey rather than the destination. After all, I’m not really sure where that destination even is or if I’ll ever actually reach one. What would I do if I did?

There is no starting or stopping point in this mess we call life. Like I’ve said before, everything is a cycle. We can’t waste our time worrying about what lies ahead or behind. All that matters is taking the time to enjoy wherever we are in that cycle right now. There is really nothing else we can do. So today I’d like for my intention to be patience. I want to challenge my automatic movements. I want to slow down and take the time to really savor each moment, especially when it feels like I don’t have time. Time is just an illusion, a trick we play on ourselves. This soul, however, is infinite. This mind is limitless. This love is ever present and all consuming. Everything is as it should be. Now is the perfect time to revel in that truth, to be joyous, to be mindful, to be fully present.

Rushed

I don’t know if I’ve just now started to recognize this about myself or if it has gotten much more severe recently. Basically from the moment I open my eyes in the morning until I go back to sleep at night, I am constantly rushing myself. Everything I do has to be done at a frantic pace for some reason. Even walking, getting dressed, and preparing food is done in a flurry of rapid movement.

It feels like an endless cycle of my anxiety making me rush and then my rushing making me feel more anxious. Sometimes I just have to smirk at the absurdity of my existence. It truly would be funny if it weren’t so damn distressing in the moment. When I can slow myself down enough to stop and consider things, I have no idea why I feel the need to do everything so urgently. There really isn’t anything pressing in my day to day life that I need to hurry and get done. I constantly have to try to remind myself that everything I have to do each day is actually just activities that I have chosen to do. And that there is no real issue if I decide I don’t want to that day or simply don’t have the time.

I saw a quote the other day that read:

I don’t think your life has to have a purpose, or a grand ambition; I think it’s okay to just wander through life finding interesting things until you die.

This gave me so much comfort. I have been trying to use this almost like a mantra lately. I am always putting so much pressure on myself because I have this bizarre notion of how my life is supposed to look and feel. I want to learn to let go of that rigid framework I’ve created and just allow my life to be and feel the way that it does. And to be content with that, whatever it may be from one moment to the next.

I’m always looking for a reason to enjoy myself. Or finding some way to fill in every second of every day. It is okay to just sit and breathe and feel at peace doing nothing, for no reason at all. I don’t have any grand destiny that I must live up to. If the only thing I manage to achieve in this life is personal enjoyment, that is more than enough.

I am so fortunate to have the chance to experience this amazing existence. Everything is exactly as it should be. The sun is shining, the world is buzzing with life, somewhere the ocean tides are lapping at the shore, and I get to be a witness to all this majesty. I have been given a chance to love and be loved, to feel and think and smile and laugh. That is enough. I am enough as I am in each moment. There is nowhere I have to go. Nothing I have to do. I am young and beautiful and free and healthy. What a beautiful world. What a beautiful life. I mustn’t forget to enjoy it. I mustn’t rush.