Friday, November 19, 2010

Patience and the Path to Spiritual Awakening

I had a friend ask me to write about patience, so here goes. I honestly can't see how patience isn't important in just about any aspect of life, spiritual or not. Of course, if you've been following along with these posts, then you know that I don't believe there is an aspect of life that's not spiritual--even the depraved horrible parts have their seeds of awakening locked within. Regardless, patience is important. It arises from an acceptance of the present moment, and in that space, you no longer feel like you're waiting or anticipating.

Impatience and the Present Moment
In Western Society, we are fraught with impatience. We are always trying to get somewhere, and then we want to get somewhere sooner. One of my fellow spiritual bloggers wrote about "Instant Gratification" in a recent post that gives a great example of how impatient everyone is at a grocery check-out line. Other examples that come to mind for me include: My email isn't fast enough. Traffic is going too slowly. When will my date show up? Why isn't this meeting over already? And so on, and so on, and so on. But have you ever stopped to ask yourself what this impatience is? Do so now. Why is this present moment not okay?

Impatience is a statement from yourself to yourself that this isn't the present moment that you want. You want to be in a different situation because you think it'll make you feel happier, safer, and other feelings that you've assigned as positive. Chronic impatience can make you feel nervous and edgy. You always feel like you need to do something soon, but that moment hasn't come yet. You are elevating your heart rate and blood pressure. With lots of impatience, you may be creating internal conditions such as chronic fatigue, hypertension, and plenty of other nasty little body-manifestations of your upset mind.

Developing Patience in Life and the Spiritual Path
I'd love a magic spell for patience. I'd take two. But there isn't. You just gotta keep coming back to the present moment. Bring your focus back to now. Focusing "over there" will lead to more impatience. So long as the path you are on is building a road to "over there," eventually you'll get there, wherever it is you are going.

For people focused on the spiritual path, you will learn that the unfolding of life has a lot of rhythms, forces, and energies that are far greater than your own. It's a humbling path, and one in which your little you, your little ego, that wants what it wants will begin to see that there's a much bigger picture out there than what's going on for you. So if you haven't gotten to enlightenment (and good luck "trying" to "get" enlightenment), then perhaps there's something you're not ready for or is not in alignment with energies that you're currently in.

There are a lot of people who don't have the spiritual support to embody the awakened space, and if they somehow were able to push into it, then they'd do one of those fast expansions and horrible painful contractions. What happens is the person gets hit with all the beauty in themselves followed by a huge realization of all the things they have to change and heal in themselves. Without a strong framework for understanding, teacher, and community, many people simply freak out (contract back to their lowest natural energy state, also where their biggest issues are that are holding them back).

Unaddressed Issues and Restlessness
In a slightly more benign way, impatience may be a subtle urging that you're supposed to be doing something that you're resisting. This may turn into restlessness and appear less as impatience, but some of the elements may be the same. Patience combined with informed action is important here. You need to address what you've been avoiding (and you probably know exactly what it is; you just don't like it). But you need to do it with diligence and patience so that the actions can come to fruition. Rushing to get it over with will likely make a bigger mess, and you can potentially rush by solutions and opportunities along the way.

Time to Integrate
For those who are actively awakening, you are probably moving back and forth between awakened moments and healing old issues. This is very normal. This is the spiritual awakening process. While spiritual awakening is a time-free event, most people don't wake up entirely and easily flow into a brand new life. Too much karma and too many issues are lodged in us. That doesn't mean that it's impossible to just wake up, but I see so much ignorance around spiritual awakening that I am writing about it as a process to address the continuum of wake up and then backslide that so many of us do (myself included).

Along the way, our bodies, hearts, and minds need time to integrate the lessons we learn and heal the newly cleared wounds. Patience is needed. At times, you won't have much energy. You need to rest and find space to nurture yourself however you see fit (lately for me, it's anything to do with water; I spent part of an afternoon in a hot tub yesterday). Allow the intelligence of your whole system--not just your mind--the time to learn what needs to be learned and the time to unlearn that which does not serve you. Patience is key. And it's always right in this present moment and nowhere else.
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