It’s an old myth that fear actually protects us. It may keep us from doing foolishly stepping into danger, but in the long run fear is detrimental to our ongoing maturity.
We may have been told that patience is a virtue, but were we taught we could develop patience? And how important it is to do so! There is no peace with an impatient mind.
How? There are many practices, such as meditation and stress management and the old one about counting to ten before we say something when angry arises.
The most effective way I have found to develop patient is by noticing when I feel impatient!
This occurs when I want something to happen quickly—move along more quickly than it seems to be doing. I sense myself much as a horse straining at the bit. The energy within me is pulling, wanting something to happen—or not to happen.
Feeling these strong “must happen now” energies, I am training myself to stop, breathe and also send a big blessing of friendliness to myself and everyone!
It feels like a loving hand on my shoulder saying, “Wait a minute. Whoa. Relax for a minute. This may not be what you think it is. Let’s just slow down and look at what is taking place.”
As the saying goes: “Don’t just do something, stand there.”
There are questions to be asked: “Will this present action cause hurt to someone? What am I wanting/demanding?”
Pausing to ask these vital questions goes a long way in developing patience.
Of course when there is immediate physical danger for ourselves or others things are different. Action is very probably the first step.
However, how often is there immediate, present physical danger and how often are we just worried about a future outcome?
The ego might sense impending doom, but is this true?
So questioning when we feel that “gotta do something right now” force is truly a way to develop patience.
Patience is an antidote to fear. And fear cannot really help any situation. Wisdom is the great power that heals and makes well.
I feel impatient when I’m afraid that something won’t happen soon enough, or in the right way. Or that things won’t work out for my loved ones, or the world in general. Or I keep checking my email, waiting for that confirmation or answer that I want.
I also get impatient sometimes when I judge that I’m not becoming spiritual enough and as quickly as I should. As if I were some kind of race or competition.
Impatience is a major cause of hurtful speech. Accusatory, blaming words harm and often destroy relationships. When we take time to reflect on what will bring healing and choose our words and actions accordingly, there is less suffering and more happiness.
Impatience causes accidents, mistakes, and probably is the direct or indirect cause of many illnesses, even premature death.
In all cases impatience causes suffering.
There are a million things that we can become impatient with—unless—unless our mind is regularly disciplined to shift to a different track. This is a powerful training of the mind and heart.
Each time I feel impatient I turn the spot light inward.
I begin with my body. Am I holding tightly somewhere? Is there some up-tight energy? What are my muscles doing? Ah yes, signs of anxiety. Can I let go, relax just a little—or a lot?
As I begin noticing the anxiety I slow down. I let go and just breathe. What a difference! The body calms, muscles relax and I feel more at ease.
I investigate my thoughts. What am I worried about? What am I afraid will happen? By facing these fears directly, and reflecting upon them, I’m not so tempted to act them out. Instead I can wait for wisdom, intuition to guide me.
I notice impatience in small things too. For instance, when it is difficult to open the tiny clasp of my necklace I can become impatient. And the more impatient I become the harder it is to accomplish.
But when I breathe deeply, slow down and take time to proceed with the task, it becomes easy.
Fear does not protect us!
Fear tightens our muscles and cause our minds to close down routes of access to needed information. Tightening up makes it difficult to see alternatives.
How often I have made the wrong decision when I felt pressure, the demand to do something too quickly.
Hurry is really a con job. “Don’t think, just act.” It’s like the magician who creates an illusion by not allowing time or the opportunity to see what is actually happening. How quick those hands are!
We may have been told that it is fear that keeps us safe from danger by not allowing us to cross the street in front of oncoming vehicles. I have a different view. I believe it is wisdom, not fear, that shows us how to cross the street safely.
Through patient investigation and by acknowledging our true motives, exploring the possible outcome of each, before acting, we can forestall choices that would cause hurt in the long run. We make wiser decisions and cause less harm.
Patience opens the mind to a wider range of resources where wisdom can take the lead. Life becomes easier and more fun.
Life flows rather than freezes, and we feel the joy of it all—the whole catastrophe as Zorba the Greek says.
Let’s be patient—even with our impatience!