Like you, I’ve learned many lessons over the past three years. One of my biggest lessons has undoubtedly been patience. When we closed down our winter season at the end of February 2020, I felt like we’d finally gotten everything fixed and we’d be ready to run into the next season smoothly. I felt like the hard part was over. Little did I know, it was just starting. Our dreams of enjoying our new retreat center had to be put on pause indefinitely until borders could reopen. I was devastated. This beautiful new space that was supposed to be our home was taken away from us in a heartbeat.
There really was nothing I could do to change the external situation, so I had to focus on my inner landscape. Anticipation of reopening had the potential to eat me alive. The antidote was patience. The problem is that it’s incredibly hard to wait for something when you don’t know when it will come or something that you don’t want so badly. Waiting for a friend to visit on the weekend? Easy. Waiting for a critical document to arrive from overseas to beat an immigration deadline so you don’t get deported (true story, just happened last month)? Stressful!
Impatience is a fundamental rejection of this moment in favor of a future better moment where we have what we need. I could feel this in myself while I was in Austria during the shutdown. I felt myself slipping in and out of a catatonic state in which days or even weeks would fall off the calendar and I simply wasn’t engaged. I was just existing until I could get back to Thailand. My impatience wasn’t making me tap my foot or get frustrated with little things, it manifested as a checking out of my own life.
When I noticed this, I made the conscious decision to re-engage with my surroundings and become active in my patience. I went hiking, snowboarding, running, swimming, and even played a little basketball to get my energy moving. I also got really into cooking as an outlet for my impatience. I wanted to make this time of uncertainty a fruitful and healthy time as opposed to drowning in my own impatience.
Patience taught me to be present instead of always looking forward. As a result, my time in Austria felt like a time of expansion and getting to know myself. When I was feeling impatient, it felt like a punishment. The punishment, of course, was self-inflicted, and learning to be patient was what brought me out of the prison I had created.
Do you see the ways in which impatience creates a prison for you? Or how it makes you wish for an escape from the present moment? Can you shift this energy through movement? What about doing a mental scan and letting go of physical tension? With a bit of practice, we can make waiting a joy instead of something we have to bear in order to get to something better.
Want to read more? Here’s a blog I enjoyed about patience over at Tiny Buddha.