Patience: A lesson to learn for yoga, for research, for life

This week my class at the DV organization grew. And so did I, albeit in a very different way.

While I had more eager new students today, I grew in a valuable way. I learned the art of patience.

Patience is a virtue we all need in order to relax and release tension in our bodies and minds. It’s also very useful in peace work.

I learned this lesson of patience when all of a sudden I had more students at one time. For the last few weeks, I began to worry whether I would be able to complete my research work and finish my thesis.

Yoga requires patience. It takes time to really get to know the poses, understand their effects, and truly focus yourself on the philosophy. Even if you do the pose a million times, there will be one time when suddenly you have enlightenment. You will realize how much more you can do! I learned this over the summer, when, while teaching a class, I took the simple yet humbling Anjali mudra (prayer pose) and really pressed my palms together and my fingers together. WOW! In this simple posture, I was about to engage all my major muscles, just be being aware.

It only took me oh, some 30 odd years to figure it out. No one in my Hindu-based family-and-friends circle had ever thought about it like that, or thought to teach it to me like that, even though we use the pose for greetings all the time. Many yoga teachers may not think of Anjali mudra as more than prayer pose, which is humbling. Why is it humbling though? Because in one simple action, our entire body reacts and engages, our mind is focused, and our spirit is calmed and rejuvenated.

Rather than berate myself for taking “so long”, I continued to engage and activate all my muscles throughout my practice and passed it on to others. I recognized that we have to be patient with ourselves, because we are learning how to live with grace and humility, and that takes time! No need to sweat over the little stuff. Things come along when they are supposed to. This is what yoga teaches: patience.

In peace work, too, we have to realize and accept that we won’t see results overnight. Often donors expect specific types of results, and they want them fast. When working in the field, we want to go in, implement our idea, and get it done, so that we can show our (positive) results. I was doing the same thing in my research work, getting so worried that I didn’t have a steady group of students to work with.

We must learn to wait for results over time, giving a project or program a chance to affect the status quo (hopefully positively).

Patience can also help when we are trying to get a project started. The project may not hit the ground running. It may take some time gain momentum, as my yoga class for DV survivors has, and as so many other programs I’ve run have.

Learning patience is a work in progress. It’s never been my best quality, having lived in an “instantaneous gratification” society most of my life. But through yoga, with practice, I should be able to absorb a little more each day, and learn to life a happy, patient life.

How have you used patience in your work? Do let me know… it’ll help us all to grow. As we in the Northern Hemisphere head into the cold winter season, be patient as you wait for sunlight to come back to your life…. In the meanwhile, light some candles for Divali, Hanukkah, Christmas, or any other warming festival you celebrate!

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3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Pawan Bimali
    Nov 04, 2010 @ 12:27:18

    This article is much more informative about how we can develop patience in ourselves. Thanks for sharing. It is easier to tell than to practice. But the fact is each individual has own capacity and way to deal with personal situation and surrounding. Emotional factors always incline us to react in one or another way. Ambition to obtain something, of our wish, interferes our patience. The conflict between these two sides continues as long as our brain and sensory organs are active.

    Reply

  2. Renee
    Nov 04, 2010 @ 17:14:13

    Hmmm…peace in my line of work? I’m a social worker. I HAVE to be born with a peace button that is always on, and I was. I believe that the Lord puts people on this earth to do certain things and I was meant to be a social worker. Not only do I have work in my fiele, but I can be waiting in line at a grocery store or waiting for an older person to cross the street. I just wait without one ounce of impatience. I almost died a couple of times because of my epilepsy. Once in a care accident and again when I had my brain surgery. I learned at a very young age to appreciate the little things in life. They mean SO much. I live every day like it was my last and take time to stop and smell the roses. Life is too short to rush through it because you are impatient. You never know what you might miss. I would have missed meeting you Sowmya! And I’m so blessed to have you in my life. Peace and blessings always.

    Renee Deyden

    Reply

  3. Sita
    Nov 08, 2010 @ 16:59:57

    Very true Sowmya. Patience is a virtue which needs to be developed. I work with K/1s, and sometimes forget how small they are!! When they want to cut something or glue something, or when they’re thinking of the anser for 3+2, I’ve stop myself from helping them figure it out themselves! It’s just a matter of time, wait, so now I count 30 in my mind and gently ask them, “May I help you?” :0). Also, I’ve noticed that patience with other might come naturally, but with our own family we tend to take them for granted, and get annoyed/irritated with small things. I forget they are kids too! So been practicing on that. Thanks for sharing this nice blog.

    Reply

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