If you were to look up “patience” in a good thesaurus or dictionary, you would find that the most common definition of this word talks about forbearance, long-suffering, and bearing pains or trials without complaint. Patience – or ksanti in Sanskrit – is in fact much more than this, especially to the Yogi or Yogini. The patience of Yoga (and Buddhism) is patience through wisdom and clarity. We learn when and where we need to exercise forbearance because we see the situation or environment we are in at the time from a more ‘global’ point of view. True patience has an intelligent quality that combines clarity and understanding with virya, or energy.
When we talk about patience, it is generally thought of to be of an individual exercising patience, but true patience is just as much about communication with others – and the environment. Why are we patient? Through self-discipline and clarity of the situation, we see an ultimate result or direction coming available. We then create the right situation and harmony within our environment to allow the results to manifest themselves in accordance with Nature and universal harmony. A short example to clarify may help:
The last month or so, my own personal Yoga practice has been going very well. I have felt more flexible than ever, and have started to notice physically how my body is adapting. It was feeling like every session I was stretching further, relaxing more, and maintaining awareness of my breath as never before. About a week ago, this suddenly changed. I felt stiff, and my lower back was complaining bitterly. Instead of easing off, as I should have, I longed for the feeling of the prior weeks, and began to push instead of allowing my Yoga to flow. The next day, same result – again I was stiff and my lower back ached.
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I blindly struggled along this way for four days before a phrase in a book I was reading jumped off the page and made me think for a moment. In essence, my blind lack of patience and failure to see the larger picture was dissolving the conditions I had worked so hard to create to facilitate my Yoga. Once I realized this, and backed off from pushing my practice and instead letting it flow freely, the right situation and environment was again established for me to begin to move forward again.
To see our environment and the situations we are part of in everyday life, it is necessary to maintain awareness of them, and awareness of what our own objectives are. The Yogi or Yogini who carries his or her Yoga into daily life does not fixate on what he or she wishes to obtain, but instead focuses on creating the right environment for those objectives to come to fruition naturally and in their own time. This intelligent patience of Yoga and many other spiritual traditions employs positive energy towards those things of which patience is worthy to us. In this way, we do not suffer trials or pain without reason – which drains us of energy. Within our pain and trials instead is the peaceful and harmonious energy of creating the right situations and environment to bring our wishes to pass.
Ways to practice Patient Yoga
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- Take time to establish that which you truly want with yourself. This can happen a few minutes before an important meeting, in the morning during meditation or over coffee, or cover longer term goals such as a new house or car.
- Breathe! Maintain awareness of your breath when communicating with others in difficult situations and you will remain clear-headed and less prone to becoming angered or upset.
- Try Iyengar Yoga, where poses are held for extended periods of time.
- Be aware that your every action and thought reverberates throughout all of creation. Many times it is us who created the very situation or environment in the first place that we need to exercise patience with to change.
- When you find yourself suffering in a situation or having to endure an environment you feel powerless to change, ask yourself what it is you wish to achieve by staying in it. If the answer is important, you can begin to work on effecting the environment or situation to create the right circumstances. If the answer is not so important, you may consider removing yourself and preserving your own energy for more valuable areas of your life where patience is required.
Ultimately, we are co-creators with the Creative Essence of the universe. This is true of our lives in the deepest sense. Learning to practice patient Yoga in your practice and your life will lead you towards a more harmonious and creative state of being in which your goals and wishes are fulfilled naturally and in their due time. At a much coarser level, exercising intelligent patience with ourselves and our own body during our Yoga practice leads to less injury and pulls or strains and works to focus on the experience and trust that the results we wish for will manifest themselves in their due time.
Namaste, my friends.