How often it is that we desire change? And equally often we desire things to stay the same? I find that when I am sick, I can not wait to feel better. I so badly want my condition to change that I am doubly miserable beyond the fact that my nose is running or my stomach hurts. Likewise, when I am lounging in bed in the morning, I so desperately want time to stand still so I can linger endlessly among my pillows.
Buddhism is based on the principle that everything is always changing and yet (in its very Zen way) that everything is ultimately the same. Ugh. This doesn't help clarify life at all!
But, the idea does encompass the quandary of our subjective experience of time and how we suffer when things change and suffer when things stay the same. Today I was feeling somewhat unwell and I wanted desperately to feel better FAST! But, I had taken the medicine and all I could do was wait. I needed time to pass in order for my condition to change. I couldn't speed it up (nor of course could I slow it down). Life moves along at its own pace. Our bodies take time to heal, medicine takes time to work, and beautiful sunsets will come to an end.
When I ask myself for patience, I am asking myself for two things really:
First, I am reminding myself that change takes time. I remind myself that I can trust in the inevitability of change and rest assured that circumstances and the current experience will change.
Secondly, I want to feel at ease during my wait. Having patience for me doesn't mean suffering every second that I feel terrible until I feel better. Having patience means having compassion for my current state while I am experiencing said challenge or discomfort.
By observing my sensations and my inner experience, I notice that while I may not feel great, I don't have to suffer dually in my desire for change. I can watch myself and allow the process to take its course with understanding, acceptance and forgiveness. It is a practice. As all aspects of Buddhism and life are. We detach from the desire for change (or non change) in order to find ease in the way things are. By seeing things as they are, we have a better chance of responding with sensitivity, compassion and resilience.
Have you practiced patience today?