Updated: Apr 17, 2020
Patience is a choice, I begrudgingly admit to myself in quarantine. Are we there yet?
I have noticed impatience creep into my day to day. It may have been there all along, only spot-lighted by quarantine, or it may be because of the 'in-between' state a lot of us are in with our new world reality. Either way, it's showing up in my life. If you are 100% doing your best right now, then I admire you. I have been finding excuses. Lately, I haven’t had the patience to slow down. At a time when the country is on lockdown. The logic gap is glaring. The thing is, we all know (at least partly) what makes us feel better each day. The simpler the solution, the less likely a lot of us are to follow through. An intensive month-long online meditation training? Sign me up! Meditate for 10 minutes right now… Maybe later. “I don’t have time” is a fallacy, because how you spend your time and energy is a choice, too. That is becoming more obvious these days. Yes, we all have to make a living, and yes that requires time. But we all have the same number of hours in the day, and I have never met anyone who truly had no time. Because there is no such thing as ‘no time’ but only ‘filled time.’ I was in bed for three weeks with the flu and found myself saying “I don’t have the energy” to meditate. Then when I started to recover, it was “I don’t have the time, I’ve missed out on so much work, I need to catch up.” The brain is wonderfully creative when it comes to making excuses. And even more creative at justifying them. I have been resisting being quiet in my own company, because I was resisting the new reality that surrounds me. A lot of us have an inner voice that says “things aren’t happening fast enough.” We are putting your personal preferences about how and when things “should “ happen over the natural flow of life. By doing this, we are swimming upstream, and ironically causing more tension and frustration. And there are plenty of reasons to list for feeling frustrated right now, it is a difficult time for most people. Every time we give in to our frustration and act on it however, we strengthen an inner response system for immediate rewards. Biologically, patience requires tuning in to our prefrontal cortex, the region of your brain that dictates our point of focus, and allows us to plan ahead. It enables us to delay gratification, and we all have that ability. It's like a muscle, we just have to work on building it.
Life will teach you what you need to know, as many times as it takes to learn it. Life has pretty much smacked us in the face with the message “learn patience” and not for the first time. Practicing patience is a choice to manage difficult emotions and situations to the best of our abilities. It’s a choice, always. We cannot choose our emotions, but we can choose what impacts them, and how we respond to them. At its best, patience is knowing you are enough regardless of what you are doing. Doing the things that matter to you, not because you have something to prove. There, it’s done. Can I watch Netflix now. But it’s doing the things that matter because they bring you joy. Joy, love, gratitude, kindness, compassion. They can only be experienced in the present moment. And patience is the gateway to living with those feelings each day. We resist patience though, in case it also brings up difficult feelings. It will. This is a really hard time for people, we all have our low moments and low days. And for many, they are struggling with intense loss and fear. But if you could make a little easier on your central nervous system, then your body will be better placed to manage challenges that you encounter. Start with being patient with yourself. You are where you are. Or start with the person with which you are currently in a love / why-do-you-chew-so-loudly quarantine relationship. We all have triggers, and it's a choice to breathe through them, or give in to them.
There are many factors outside our control, and the future is uncertain. What we can control is whether or not we spend the next few weeks fighting an internal battle, cursing each public health announcement that declares the continuation of lockdown. Or we can use this time to practice patience. To learn a skill that will help us in every single situation we have ahead of us, during this process and beyond. This will be my focus for the next while. I’ll get back to a longer daily meditation practice. I’ll sit in the garden and listen to the birds in the morning with a cup of tea. I’ll spend time planning out my workload so it’s doable, and enjoyable. I’ll be flexible with my plans when my energy or abilities change each day. I’ll do my best. That will be my definition of success. How will you practice patience today? Drop me a line or create an account to leave a comment.