As the year comes to an end, we make resolutions. Here’s a practice of remaining steadfast to our new year goals before giving up on them. Happy 2023!
Learning To Stay, Pema Chodron
So whenever we wander off, we gently encourage ourselves to “stay” and settle down. Are we experiencing restlessness? Stay! Discursive mind? Stay! Aching knees and throbbing back? Stay! What’s for lunch? Stay! What am I doing here? Stay! I can’t stand this another minute! Stay! That is how we cultivate steadfastness.
It’s easy to give up on meditating when we lose patience. The benefits may not be immediate and it can feel somewhat unpleasant when you’re just sitting still and not doing anything. Yet there is enough neuroscience evidence to show that mindfulness helps strengthen the brain and allows us to be more at ease in responding to difficulties. It’s probably the cheapest “solution” to mental health woes because you can meditate anywhere, anytime without guidance. This practice is about not giving up by giving yourself permission to be patient.
Inspiration from Maya Angelou’s poem Still I Rise (extract).
You may write me down in history With your bitter, twisted lies, You may trod me in the very dirt But still, like dust, I’ll rise.
Just like moons and like suns, With the certainty of tides, Just like hopes springing high, Still I’ll rise.
You may shoot me with your words, You may cut me with your eyes, You may kill me with your hatefulness, But still, like air, I’ll rise.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear I rise Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear I rise Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave, I am the dream and the hope of the slave. I rise I rise I rise.
The lack of patience signals the desire to get a “pleasant” state or to run away from whatever the mind deems to be “unpleasant”. In this practice, we look beyond what often captures our immediate attention, which is our feelings, and appreciate pleasant moments that we easily overlook or take for granted such as temperature and sounds to cultivate patience. Inspired by the writings of Rumi, 13th century Persian poet and scholar.
Patience is not sitting and waiting, it is foreseeing.
It is looking at the thorn and seeing the rose.
Looking at the night, and seeing the day.
Lovers are patient, and know that they moon needs time to become full.