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Patience not patients.

July 7, 2012

I recently received this Pema Chodron quote in my weekly email from the Pema Chodron Foundation.  It seemed so relevant to my life and what I am going through and I think what she says is relevant to all of us who have some kind of chronic disease or condition.

Patience is not learned in safety. It is not learned when everything is harmonious and going well. When everything is smooth sailing, who needs patience? If you stay in your room with the door locked and the curtains drawn, everything may seem harmonious, but the minute anything doesn’t go your way, you blow up. There is no cultivation of patience when your pattern is to just try to seek harmony and smooth everything out. Patience implies willingness to be alive rather than trying to seek harmony.

Pema Chodron – The Pocket Pema Chodron

This statement touched me.  I am a fairly patient person, but do have “blow ups” from time to time.  These have been more frequent in the last year as my frustration with my disability bubbles under the surface.  I face many challenging changes in my life.  I have less money than I used to.  Not only that, but my earning potential is much less these days than in the past.  I get my medical care through a program for people with very low income.  Adjusting my expectations and accepting the loss of control over my care is quite trying.  I am now officially labeled “disabled” by the Social Security Administration.  My body regularly fails to keep pace with my mind and desires.  This is the time to learn true patience.

Meeting the present moment with equanimity, is difficult.  It is much easier to engage in worrying about all the things I need to do or my fears for the future, think about things that happened in the past, indulge in fantasies about things I want, or just busy myself with tasks.

One way to practice being present and patient is meditation.  I’m not a disciplined meditator.  I know it would be good for me but have trouble committing to a daily practice.  I watched a video today as I contemplate participating in a retreat to celebrate Pema Chodron’s 76th birthday.  She has invited people all over the world to practice peace on this day, Saturday, July 14th.  In the video Ani Pema talks about the concept of retreat and gives some wonderful meditation instruction.  What I like best is how she describes the common experiences of what she calls the “wild mind” in meditation.  She reminds us that the mind is rarely empty in meditation, but constantly chattering and the act of remaining present with oneself helps to bring us peace.  Here is a link to the video if you would like to watch it:

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.  I will continue cultivating patience and peace in my life.  The important thing is to forgive myself the times I fail.

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