When I first started practicing yoga regularly back in December, my teachers would mention something about setting an intention for the day’s practice. I learned that this was a word or a phrase that you would focus on during practice. The teacher would often give suggestions, such as gratitude, presence, or patience. I usually set my intention on what I would eat post shavasana. Then I stopped one day to think about what I really needed to focus on. Post yoga fro-yo wasn’t it. The word that kept coming to mind? Patience. Was it also a coincidence that one of my favorite bands, The Lumineers, also released a new album with an instrumental song named “Patience” on it that my favorite yoga teacher proceeded to include in a class playlist? I think not.
My job requires an obnoxious amount of patience. Take just a moment to think back to yourself as a 14-18 year old. You probably owe your parents, your teachers, and really anyone who ever had to interact with you an apology. When people hear stories about what I do, their response is usually a little something along the lines of, “Wow, I hated math. Teenagers. Tough. You must have a lot of patience.” Students, colleagues, and parents have all complimented how patient I am with students. I’m starting to think that I use so much patience in my job that I don’t have any left for any other aspect of my life.
So back to yoga. One of the many things about yoga is how much I can take what I do on the mat off of the mat with me into my day-to-day life. So my thoughts on patience first began on the mat. Patience with my body in the progress I was making. Yoga can really shine a very bright light on my Type A personality. I want to balance longer and bend farther, and I want to do it right now, not after years of dedicated practice. When I focus on patience, it allows me to remember how far I have come. Yoga is called a practice for a reason. I must have patience with my body as it makes progress towards binds and balances. I need to appreciate where I am at, while looking forward to all of the places I could possibly go. As I’ve focused on being patient with my body, I have learned to love it more.
Moving off the mat, I could apply my “patience” mantra to all aspects of my life.
Grieving is such a complicated process, one that is never truly done. When I think of my journey through grief after losing my mom, I realize that I often lose patience with myself. I think that I should be further along than I am. I want to rush ahead to where the grieving gets easier, which lets be honest, probably will never happen. I am focusing on allowing myself to feel all I feel at any given moment, reminding myself that wherever I am in the grieving process is right where I am supposed to be, which often involves crying when Prince’s “Raspberry Beret” comes on the radio. For real, the number of places I have cried or ordinary things that have made me sob (usually in public) is comical. If you ever need a really good public cry, I strongly recommend Kohl’s or the car dealership while getting your oil changed. There is no true timeline or paint-by-numbers method to grieving. We do it all in our own way, at our own pace. Patience for the process.
In this world of social media, it can be nearly impossible to not compare your life with others. It can be hard not to feel jealous of other people’s success, happiness, accomplishments, etc. Personally, I get particularly jealous when people get puppies. I want a puppy and I want one right now, but my living situation, work schedule, and love of travel are not particularly conducive to dog ownership at this point of my life. So whether it is dogs, success, a level of happiness, or accomplishments, I am working on patience. I have lots of really wonderful things in my life that I am so thankful for. I know other good things will come my way in the future. Patience.
Sometimes (always) the big things require patience, but so do the small things, like wanting my hair to grow long faster or dinner to be ready sooner. Maybe that’s why I don’t cook. I’m not patient enough. Maybe being hangry (hungery + angry) is actually just a lack of patience. I suppose if I really want to work in the patience thing on and off the mat, I’ll have to add a culinary component. If you’ve ever traveled with me, you know I am a delight to travel with until suddenly I’m not because I have decided that I am over the traveling process and I want to be there NOW. Those people will be grateful that patience is something I’ve decided to work on. I think it is cruel that Netflix makes me wait a whole year for the next season of Orange is the New Black. This Gilmore Girls revival? Don’t tell me it’s happening until it is released because I do not have the patience to wait around for it. I hate the idea of surprises, mainly because if I know a surprise is coming, I’m not patient enough to wait for it.
Clearly I have a lot of work to do when it comes to being patient. The irony of the whole thing is that learning to become patient is a process that requires patience. So I will continue to set my intentions on patience. In the meantime, if anyone has any “get patient fast” schemes they would like to share with me, I’m all ears. Just kidding. Kind of.