“Patience is a virtue.” We’re all familiar with that cliché, and many of us know that patience is listed by Paul in Galatians 5:22-23 as among the fruit of the Spirit.
And, as usual the Qur’an also touches the essence of practicing patience: O you who keep faith, endure with patience; and strengthen the bond among yourselves; and be conscious of God, that you may truly come into well-being. [Ya ‘ayyuhal lazina `aama-nus.biru wa raabituu: wattaqullaaha la `allakum tuflihum.] (Qur’an 3:200)
And seek aid in steadfast patience and prayer: and this, indeed, is a hard thing for all but the humble in spirit, [Wasta`inuu bis.-S.abri was Salaah; wa innahaa lakabiiratun ‘ilaa `alal Khashi`iin.] (Qur’an 2:45)
Patience (or forbearing) is the state of endurance under difficult circumstances, which can mean persevering in the face of delay or provocation without acting on annoyance/anger in a negative way; or exhibiting forbearance when under strain, especially when faced with longer-term difficulties. Patience is the level of endurance one can take before negativity. It is also used to refer to the character trait of being steadfast.
There are four different kinds of patience: patience in action, in thought, in word, in the manner of feeling. There are two different acts of patience: the first is to stand firm against the activity of another person, the second to stand firm against one’s own activity. Not to resist the activity of another person is an act of patience of the former sort, and to control oneself when one wishes to do or say a certain thing is an act of patience of the latter sort. The most difficult test of patience is to have to wait for something which one wants at once.
In evolutionary psychology and in cognitive neuroscience, patience is studied as a decision-making problem, involving the choice of either a small reward in the short-term, or a more valuable reward in the long-term.
When given a choice, all animals, humans included, are inclined to favor short-term rewards over long-term rewards. This is despite the often greater benefits associated with long-term rewards.
The strong manly ones in life are actually those who understand the meaning of the word patience.
Patience means restraining one’s inclinations. There are seven emotions: joy, anger, anxiety, love, grief, fear, and hate, and if a man does not give way to these he can be called patient.
The Law of Patience states that all things must have their time and their season whereby they may work their action to proper fruition.
I am not as strong as I might be, but I have long known and practiced patience. And if my descendants wish to be as I am, they must study patience.
There is a story from Jewish folklore about a woman living with such grief for the loss of her son she was inconsolable. In her small village, every person who saw her wailing on the side of the road tried to comfort her. The woman yelled and screamed for them to go away.
Many months later, a visitor came who challenged the woman to go to every home and ask for flour from each house that had never experienced the loss of a loved one. The visitor’s challenge: the woman must bake a cake with the flour she collected from each house without a loss. If she is able to bake a cake with the flour by nightfall, the visitor promised to bring her loved one back to life.
The woman set out in her village knocking on each door. Each time she asked for flour, the door was slammed in her face. By nightfall no cake was baked. The visitor came to see if the woman had success. The woman explained that each family in every home she went to suffered from loss. She was frantic that she could not complete her task. The visitor nodded and explained, that life is full of love and loss and that no home is free from suffering.
We never know what life will bring us. I know that life can change in a single moment. We all have many blessings and many losses. The pain from loss may very well cause us to wail and scream like the inconsolable woman from the story
We could all be or have been the wailing woman. The hurt is so large because we love our families so deeply. The ability to love, to feel, to draw close to God — this is what makes us human.
There is no medicine that will ever cure hurt and loss. However, there are other types of medicine that we can find that may comfort our soul — family, friends, tradition, prayer, journaling – healing can and will happen.
Our pain never leaves completely but will change as we permit ourselves to turn to our community, and turn back to our inner core – searching for that medicine or comfort that soothes the wounded heart a bit more each day.
As we turn, God may return to our souls, we walk in the world once again as a new person. We walk as a person who has suffered loss but as a stronger person aware of the love shared and with a new awareness of the blessings in our lives. We have the ability walk with a renewed gratitude for life and with the ability to help heal the world.
There are many ways, and there are many reasons for soul loss. The Soul is very delicate, it is your emotional center. When a child suffers abuse whether it is emotional, physical or sexual, and he or she has no defense and nowhere to escape to, it is the Soul that runs away.
When the abuse is constant, piece after piece will break away. Over time this will lead to a feeling of, ‘being outside of your self’, having no ‘will’, like you are living your life in a ‘dream’, feeling ‘disconnected’ to yourself and your emotions.
Although you may feel numb emotionally, you still feel the pain and hurt. Many adults continue to suffer soul loss. We may choose partners that perpetuate the abuse because that is all we know. We become used to it, not realizing that it is still possible to be happy again.
Abuse is not the only way soul loss occurs. It is possible to ‘give’ a part of yourself away. If someone loved by you very deeply leaves you, by death or other circumstances, they may ‘take’ a part of you with them, where ever they go, even to the grave.
If someone has great power and control over you, they can take what they want. You can feel the loss. Sometimes this is referred to as ‘taking one’s power away’.
This is all very real.
You can even leave a part of your Soul in a place loved by you. A home, vacation spot, a place you played at when you were little. Moving away from a place you loved is a common way.
We seem to remember the happy places in our lives, we often return to them. When this is the only happiness left in our present day life, it can lead to melancholy and depression.
At this point, a person may seek ways to kill the pain through alcohol, drugs, overeating etc. Anger can become the dominant emotion. Over time, all this turmoil can have an effect on the personality, leading to mental disorders. It is a downward spiral, that may seem inescapable.
This is when spiritual healing is needed. In the spiritual world, time is not linear. All things are possible.
The Soul is not a rock. It is not a solid ‘thing’ that stays in the shape of a rock. The Soul is a flower. In warm sunny weather the Soul, like the flower, opens its petals to the sun and grows.
But like the flower in harsh storms, its petals can loosen and be lost to the wind.
These parts of the Soul do not die however. They continue to live, but only as pieces without a center. There is no direction. The Soul, without all of its parts, can no longer grow.
The Soul becomes like the rock, unable to move. It is fragmented. The Soul still feels the emotional pain and hurt from the past.
But the petals can be returned to the flower. The Soul can continue its growth. Health can return. Healing will take root. The past is released.
If a physician cannot give a patient medicine for the body, he should somehow find and give medicine for the patient’s soul.
The key to everything is patience. You get the chicken by hatching the egg, not by smashing it open.
The restoration of genuine optimal health takes time and patience that the “quick fix” mindset will never allow.
Remember anything worth accomplishing takes time, patience, and effort, especially when your health is at stake. The journey towards optimal health can be daunting at times. You want a quick fix, instant results. And you worry that you will not succeed.
This is when it is important to think progress, not perfection. Always remember that all the little changes you make on a daily basis will add up to big changes in the long run. This process does not happen overnight. After all, you didn’t get where you are now overnight. Focus on making one small change at a time and all those little changes will add up.
A University of Arkansas philosopher has found patience to be much more profound than simple, passive waiting. Rather, patience is “the living heart of ethics.”
In a presentation to the Society for Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy last month, Irene McMullin discussed patience as a “neglected virtue,” little examined by philosophy or society at large.
The self-restraint specific to patience is specifically oriented to the other person’s “agency” or ability to act. McMullin uses an example of letting her young nephew take his time tying his shoelaces. She holds herself back from doing the task for him.
Her restraint is characterized by “a hovering attentiveness, a silent co-willing, an expressive encouragement and recognition of his struggle.” While she wants the laces to be tied, her attitude is directed not to the goal of tied laces, but primarily toward her nephew’s achievement of the goal. This type of attitude involves both a willingness to share one’s time with the other person and an acknowledgement of the limits of human agency.
“In patience, I share an orientation to the other’s future that is attentive to the struggle involved in its accomplishment,” McMullin said.
She contrasted patience with impatience, which can include an element of contempt for another person’s abilities or a refusal to acknowledge the awkwardness and difficulties of so many human activities. McMullin called impatience “a type of rage in the face of human finitude.”
The impatient person—the person who taps a foot while someone else negotiates the ATM instructions—communicates a sense of being offended, even wronged, by the failures of others and the necessity of sharing time with them. In a sense, the very fact that the other person is in the world takes away from the impatient person.
McMullin also distinguished patience from tolerance.
“When I tolerate someone, I do not share the drama and meaning of his struggle,” McMullin said. “Though tolerance is an important and necessary part of shared public life, patience involves a deeper form of recognition and accommodation of the other’s presence as an individual struggling to act in the world.”
McMullin observed that in patience, a person subordinates his or her own wishes and goals to another’s future, sometimes a future they will never share. An individual practicing tolerance simply waits for the completion of activity—for the other person to walk away from the ATM, for instance.
In contrast, the patient individual encourages the other person to take the time necessary for successful completion.
“Though we may not be able to characterize patience as a ‘heroic’ virtue, the ability to accommodate and forgive the limits of human agency in its struggle for self-expression is the bedrock of our public life,” McMullin said.
Everything in modern life seems geared toward ever-greater speed — faster computers, faster Internet access, faster microwave ovens, faster trains, faster bicycles and faster cars with wider and straighter roads that allow us to drive even faster. (Do you hold your hand on the microwave door while something is heating?)
We live in an impatient age, wanting and trying to make everything and everyone around us move faster at a pace we dictate.
Called time urgency impatience, and typically characterized in Type A personalities, these people expect everything to be done ASAP. Basically it’s an obsessive concern for time. It stems from the false urgency that comes from being concerned about maximizing every second of the day. They likely look at the clock regularly, too. These are the folks punching the elevator button repeatedly as if that makes it arrive faster.
When every minute is that sense of panic and rush, it triggers the classic fight or flight response, where hormones flood the body and brain, which is fine in a life or death situation, but not so good when it’s turned on all day every day.
After a while, impatience leads to irritability, which leads to anger, which leads to clogged arteries down the road.
Our modern society promotes multi-tasking, 140 word tweets, sound bites and many other forms of instant gratification. It is all too easy to get swept up into a frenzied vortex. We are trained to be impatient.
If we are kept waiting more than a few milliseconds as our computers process, we consider upgrading! Impatience makes it difficult to be fully present for the richness of whatever our experience is at the moment. We wish we were somewhere else or things were happening in a different way.
We get attached to our notion of how a situation is supposed to unfold. When there is a mismatch between reality and our expectations, we get upset, which produces suffering. Suffering causes further frustration and the release of stress hormones which compounds the problem. This reactive cascade harms our bodies and reduces our ability to make healthy decisions.
“Everybody thinking they don’t have enough time to do this or that that tells the brain, at least the primitive emotional hub called the amygdala, that every minute of the day is an emergency,” says Joe Robinson, a work/life balance expert and author of “Don’t Miss Your Life.”
You can feel your body getting tense, and you’re getting quite cross. You start sweating, and suddenly you yell at the person for being slow and putting you behind schedule. You can tell she’s hurt, but you can’t help it. She’s making you late!
Others often see impatient people as arrogant, insensitive, and impulsive. They can be viewed as poor decision makers, because they make quick judgments or interrupt people. Some people will even avoid impatient people, because of their poor people skills and bad tempers.
People with these personality traits are unlikely to be at the top of the list for promotions to leadership positions. Impatience can even affect relationships at home.
“What we know from research is that these individuals are prone to heart disease, hypertension and more medical problems across the board than their more laid back counterparts,” says Dale Archer, a psychiatrist and author of the forthcoming “Better than Normal: How What Makes You Different Can Make You Exceptional.”
Impatience is neither a character flaw nor an inherent personality trait, it is a habit. Habits are learned, and they can be unlearned, replaced by new, more wholesome and productive habits.
But, changing habits requires insight, motivation, practice and time. New habits are not learned overnight, so don’t be too hard on yourself when you slip back into the old ”can’t you move faster or do things my way?” routine.
Becoming more patient can help you be more effective, less overwhelmed, less worried and angry, kinder, calmer, more tolerant, more loving and more lovable.
You will be less the person who tries repeatedly to reshape the world in your image and more someone who can roll with the punches.
Patience in other words is control, and one can say that the will should control the activity of the mind and hold it in check. To be patient is sometimes extremely difficult, for great energy is required to control the activity of the mind. We may picture patience as a wall against which the tides beat. The wall must be strong to resist the waves, and so it is with patience.
To embody patience is, at the least, to show no haste in matters that require time. This requires a presence that is fully in the moment and, simultaneously, outside of time. Only in this way can we give each thing its proper time. But the mental awareness alone is not sufficient to induce a holy patience. Something else is required—a sense of the Divine Presence.
So to improve the initial definition above, to be patient is to endure discomfort without complaint. This calls into play some other virtues, specifically, self-control, humility, and generosity. That is, patience is not a fundamental virtue so much as a complex of other virtues.
Embodying patience is to resist temptations of the lower self, endure the trials of life, and be content with God’s decree. Finally, it is to experience happiness even in the difficulties of servanthood. As Mevlana Rumi says “Patience is the key to joy.”
To bring it even more into daily life, we might reflect on these two sayings the beloved Prophet:
If Almighty God has destined one of his servants for a high rank that he cannot reach through his religious activities, He may cause him to endure matters related to his own self or family and equip him to meet suffering with patience. It is through patience that he is elevated to the rank that he is destined for.
There is no doubt that patience often seems a crucifixion, but one must remember that resurrection is always reached through crucifixion. Patience often seems like the effacement of the self, and it is true that it is self-effacement.
And yet nothing is lost, for it is by this practice of control a far greater power is attained. The Persian poets have called patience death. Doubtless it is to all appearance death, for it causes activity to cease, but in reality it is a greater life.
The symbol of patience is the cross. The vertical line indicates activity, the horizontal line control. Patience is for the saint and the sage the first lesson and the last. The more one learns to bear the more one has to bear, such is the nature of life.
Yet in reality patience is never wasted, patience always wins something great, even when to all appearance it loses. Sometimes a patient person seems a vanquished one, but in reality the victory is his. In the path of mastery as in the path of renunciation patience plays the greatest part.
When you truly believe in the power of the law of attraction, you know you can handover your trust to the Universe to know what’s best for you. You will allow time to run its course before you ‘reap what you sow’ and meanwhile allow yourself to relax and go with the flow. This is called patience.
Patience allows you some space for stillness and reflection where you will have the opportunity to draw on inspirations and listen to ideas that inspire you into action to move steps closer to your desires. You are more focus, productive and enjoy all the things that are unfolding before you. When you are patient enough to wait for your desires to be manifested into reality, you are in actual fact increasing your self-belief, a trust in yourself to do the right thing.
One of the biggest challenges to making changes and creating new things in your life is getting started. Fear and self-doubt can run rampant in the beginning. They are incredibly talented at convincing you that you won’t be able to do it. Often their voices are enough to stop you before you even get started. So when you are first beginning, wanting to make changes but not sure what exactly you want to do or how to get started, when you may have serious doubts about whether you can even achieve it, patience and trust are crucial.
Patience involves giving your dreams the time that they need to blossom and grow. It is a willingness to wait and allow the process the time that it needs to happen. Impatience wants it all to happen easily, without a lot of time or effort, NOW! Impatience makes your body tense and tight. Patience knows that change happens by taking one step at a time, steps that build on each other.
Patience says, “There’s plenty of time” and knows that it’s true. Patience breathes into that truth. Patience feels easy and flowing in your body. It allows you to access your creativity and energy. It stops fear. Patience allows us to take the time needed to let your work unfold and come together. Patience is not impatient! And that’s a good thing because making changes and creating your dreams does take time.
As an antidote to the self-harm caused by our impatience, mindfulness is an important component of total health.
Patience is a reflection of the peaceful mind. My peaceful mind is able to cope with all situations without becoming disturbed and agitated. It calmly accepts the resolution of circumstances and, with this patience acquires the power to deal with all situations.
A patient, mindful attitude produces endorphins and other soothing body chemicals, producing a feeling of ease. This counteracts the harmful reactive cascade produced by suffering. A sense of control over our own reactions gives the strength and flexibility to deal with the unexpected in a productive way.
Caterpillars need time to develop in their cocoon before they can emerge as fully developed butterflies. The same concept may apply to our own endeavors—the more patient we are, the more likely our plans may come to fruition.
So called delays need to be embraced as opportunities. Being fully present and patient produces equanimity and clarity. This helps with formulating creative solutions, maintaining energy and well-being.
The soul is patient…..it waits for God’s time in everything. This soul is patient in love…..it allows God to be the Author of it’s love story.
With God’s perfect touch, designing each detail of this unbreakable love. Teaching this soul to be humble, teaching them to forgive. This soul allows God’s love to break down barriers that they have built. Showing this soul the power of love and the true significance of it’s meaning.
Because the soul has learned patience it has gained renewed strength. The soul walks so close to God that there is no room for anything to come between. The patient soul is on a spiritual high, nothing can even touch it….not even the slightest delay.
When the soul has grown through patience the soul has developed perfect maturity. When dealing with patience the soul has learned that when you allow God to work things out on His behalf it will become prosperous beyond the desires of its heart.
It’s not what happens in your day that makes you mad, it’s who you are and how to handle what happens in your day that makes the difference.
Live and Learn. We All Do.
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