Patience is something I find difficult to apply to myself. I have a lot of ideas and things I want to do and if I'm unable to manage them all in the generally unreasonable time I plan for them, I can get very frustrated. So I look to practice patience when the opportunity arrises so I may improve my ability for it and my ability to be kind to myself.
Everyone has the capacity of unconditional love. It would be fabulous to have it for ourselves but generally the sense of unconditional love is applied to other people in our lives. The most common example of this would be the love a parent has for their child. In my case I have three gorgeous, delightful and wonderful fur-children. I adore all three of the kitties in my life and my love for them is unwavering regardless of the things they may do.
It is in their nature to hunt and as a result I am often faced with a live creature in the house. Sometimes I am able to intercede and save the morsel from it's doomed fate. There were a multitude of these incidents last year but three in particular which come to mind when on the topic of patience. One involved a mouse, one a small bird that was still without feathers and one was a frog. All three occurred between the hours of about 3:00am and 5:00am.
I love the teaching: 'Start where you are' because it's about knowing you already have everything you need at your disposal to start changing your life. Every experience is an opportunity for growth or to enhance a skill and figuring out which ones work and which ones don't is all apart of just going with the flow.
I know very well the challenge of insomnia. I have struggled with anxiety for years and the result is that I have very strict sleeping habits to ensure that I am able to fall asleep. When deprived of my sleep due to the disregard of a fellow human being I fly into an absolute rage. Sleep is sacred and my patience, as with most people, is worn thin when I'm tired.
But when my adorable, delightful cats wake me up at 4:00am I am able to remain quite calm. The first time it happened I was a bit miffed but with each experience my capacity to tolerate and even accept the interruption increases.
It's been some months since such an incident has taken place but over a recent weekend my patience was tested once more. I was half dreaming but aware of a crunching sound. At first I ignored it. My brain wasn't entirely engaged and I was able to attribute the noise to the cats eating their dry food. But then it occurred to me that the crunching was in my room whilst their food bowls are downstairs. At this point I woke entirely, grabbed my phone and shone it onto the floor. All three cats were present but it was my own little fur-baby from Canada who was clearly engaged in the crunching.
It turned out to be half a mouse. Half a mouse at anytime of the day is an unpleasant discovery. Half a mouse at 4:00am on a Sunday morning when you had been in the middle of a rather pleasant dream is just the sort of thing that used to make me cry with fatigue. But not this time.
I chased the cats away, got a tissue and chucked the remains out the cat flap. I returned to bed and tossed and turned for a bit. I was undoubtedly awake. I didn't imagine I'd fall asleep very quickly and normally this would be about the time when I'd feel very frustrated, upset and annoyed. Instead I remained entirely calm. My anxiety didn't flare and I realised that I was able to take the situation as it had come. I hadn't impatiently grumped at the cats, nor had I felt the need to cry or get upset. It was what it was and that was that.
Almost immediately I began running a dialogue about it in my head. I jotted down my thoughts and they have in turn become this very blog entry.
By just being right where I was, sitting with my experience and practicing patience with those I love so dearly, I didn't just refrain from getting into my old habitual behaviour; I didn't feel the need or tug at all. I just accepted what was and went with it.
It might seem a small thing but I think it's an important example. It's very easy to be too hard on ourselves and expect miracles. We can head out to practice having patience with strangers and find ourselves ignoring our impatience, rather than actually remaining calm. There's no point in beating ourselves up over it as that just shows a lack of patience for our own capacity to grow. Change takes time and when we start right where we are, when we start with what we're ready for, we can take slow and steady steps forward in our own time.