I’ll Take One Order of Patience, Please


It seems every week the students in my yoga classes teach me something. Last week we worked on releasing the deep groin muscles, but in the confines of an hour class, with little props, I had to make due. My objective was to give a taste and then encourage them to try the poses again at home. We were less than a minute into a posture when one student said, “I don’t feel anything yet.” In our ever developing world of fast service and quick change, our impatience is outpacing our ability to observe. Was it not just ten or fifteen years ago that dialing up the modem and waiting for that connection tone took several minutes? We endured without thought, because…WOW how amazing it was to become connected to places around the globe. Now, if an App on the phone doesn’t instantly connect, well, just forget it! Who has time?

In yoga class, this is acutely obvious when I direct students in a restorative posture. I always give a purpose to the pose: We do this one to feel the release here or we do that pose to encourage a release there. But nothing happens as fast or as simple as pressing a button on an Iphone. Nothing hands over results as quick as the fast food pick up window. Instead, it happens slowly and incrementally. Restorative and deep stretching tight muscles can go almost undetected to the visible eye, unless that eye is patient and able to slow the mind to observe. The difference is restorative and deep stretch postures don’t satiate a hunger for a few moments, rather they nourish the body and mind over the long haul by observing, relaxing, and releasing.

Our practice of patience translates off the yoga mat as well. As I write, I am in the mountains at a home of good friends. Graciously, they have allowed me to stay on a day without them to do my writing. As soon as they pulled out, my mind raced with all I should do: my multi projects fought with the feeling that I should hike on this beautiful fall day. I wanted to accomplish it all—right then, right there. I settled for a short walk, a sit on the porch to listen to the river, a nap in the sun, and some reading with a mug of hot tea. I went to bed very early and lost hours of possible work time but gained hours of needed rest. I rose in the middle of the night and was drawn outside to see the stars. And, in that moment, I understood being patient, letting the pose happen, allowing for the nap, or sitting to just listen offers a moment not only to feel better in the body but to feel that body as a part of the beautiful surrounding universe.

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