Patience. You have enough of that superpower? Yeah, me neither. I am still growing deeper roots in that department. Yet the irony: I can sit 90 day Zen retreats and live with a group of maybe 20 to 50 people in a remote monastery. Sitting on a cushion in formal meditation for 8–10 hours per day for 90 days. Eat and sleep little. Silence is kept and there is no entertainment. Everyday is the same. And this can be mentally and physically quite challenging. But I am not missing anything. Not wanting to go anywhere else. No wish to be anywhere else than with this — moment to moment.
But in everyday life? Oh, I can still be quite impatient. With myself and others. It still sucks when I feel stuck and things don’t seem to move forward. But wait: move forward…. where? Isn’t that what I have learned over and over from this long extended periods of sitting in meditation? That we are always right here. Now. There is no tomorrow, no yesterday. There is only moment.
Now you would think that, yes I have learned something from sitting repeatedly on my butt for 90 days — and that’s definitely true. Yet integrating those meditative insights into the often demanding and so unpredictable chaotic truth of everyday life with running businesses, with deadlines, bills to be paid, and expectations of all sorts… this is were the rubber meets the road. Uhhh… You gotta be patient with patience. Maybe it is patience that we are missing most in times of mass distraction and fast radical changes within societies and in technology.
What is patience actually? It’s not like you are waiting for something to happen. It’s more like to humbly observe and accept what is present right now whether you like it or not. To embrace the sorrow of this moment just as much as the joy. To be comfortable in the middle of this “what-the-actual-fuck-is-this???”
It’s a gentle choice to submit to circumstances rather than fighting against windmills. A soft inner strength to observe your mental state when you might want to move “forward”(btw, forward where?), but cause and conditions, the timing, simply doesn’t seem to click. Maybe your intuition tells you “Not yet.” But the brain can’t handle that. It comes up with all sorts of claims and judgements about what should or shouldn’t be. Thats where the benefit of doing lots of meditation hours kicks in. Your intuition is much stronger than the brain talk. But still you don’t know what to do.
So being with that “Don’t Know” rather than stressing myself out makes sense, doesn’t it? This state can feel quite unsettling to the mind. And the ability to mindfully rest right there in the middle of that feeling unsettled, with open eyes and watch carefully what happens next… that’s patience.
“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”
― Lao Tzu
*******************************************************************Mu Bul is a Zen teacher (Senior Dharma Teacher/ Kwan Um Zen tradition) and Yoga practitioner. Based in Leipzig, Germany, he is working as a life and career coach focusing on unlocking your potential with meditation and mindfulness training for greater focus, empathy, resilience and stress reduction.