Karen K Redding Ph.D.

Another New Year’s Resolution or NOT?

By Karen K. Redding/ January 3, 2016

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The start of the New Year is generally filled with new or expired goals to begin anew; hopes for the future;  and / or a ‘resolve’ to make the new year, better, somehow.    What if our New Year resolution was NOT about a result, per se, but more about a development…a cultivation of something?   What might THAT look like?

It seems that if ANYTHING is to succeed, patience is needed.  But in this fast paced culture in which we live, patience is hardly aspired to, and when it is, generally alluded to in a way that suggests to wait, settle down, or hold back.  When being patient is felt as more of a directive or as something we SHOULD do, it can become a form of stoicism.

Holding feelings back so as to not really KNOW what is there, often creates tension and hardness in the body and contributes to hopes and aspirations becoming less sustainable.

Sometimes, the way to really KNOW something is to know its absence.  Often, impatience is connected to time.  We may notice impatience when we are in a hurry; ask ourselves ‘how much longer?’; ‘how soon?’

Impatience also shows up when we become critical, finding blame and fault here and there.  Psychotherapy can be a viable and effective way to deconstruct these deep & recurring patterns of reactivity.

Paradoxically, impatience can teach us how to be more patient.  What might it be like to be present with what is HERE, and learn to quiet the mind so as to see where the mind goes and what the mind does.  The EXPERIENCE of patience is not only about a MENTAL attitude but a FULL body experience.

Can you imagine taking that breath that says YES…can I BE with this?  Can I take the time to meet THIS moment?  Patience is the ability to be open to things AS THEY ARE…be it difficult, confusing, unbearable, crazy making.  What happens when we can ask ourselves:  ‘What IS this’?  What is HERE?  Patience helps us to recognize, and accept what is HERE, and to begin to know our mind in a more exploratory way.

The process of developing patience WILL involve becoming lost and stuck at times because old habits run so very DEEP.  Can we bring a tenderness to the moment of recognizing when we are impatient or wandering away from our aspiration or goal?   Without patience, things are rarely good enough…never quite right.

The process of developing patience is NOT about waiting or settling back, but joined with a gentle persistence to meet our experience moment to moment INDEPENDENT of results.  Aspirations are one thing, but a tight AGENDA is yet another.  When we bring in patience, there is no where else to be.  We are here, with breath and growing awareness.

Patience allows us to develop a strong and enduring mind.  WITHOUT patience, we WILL suffer in our lives. Being happy is not about a constant flow of pleasant experiences or things being a ‘certain way’ because conditions are ALWAYS changing.

Often a lack of patience comes from the belief that ‘this isn’t okay.’  What would it be like to open to what IS here…with a presence of mind that is more accepting?

Resistance and impatience CREATE suffering as it delays our moving THROUGH the experience. Can we count the times of day when and where we can PRACTICE patience, in small steps, many times?

In a mindfulness based meditation practice, we learn to breath in, KNOWING that we are breathing in and breath out, KNOWING that we are breathing out., because we FEEL the movement of breath in our body. Our breath becomes an anchor for calming & releasing.  With attention, patience can become a (good) habit.

The poet John Ciardi wrote:  ‘Patience is the art of caring slowly.’  With patience, we develop the inner container to HOLD both the joys and sorrows that life brings us, and to learn the gradual releasing of old habits.

Patience becomes the lotus flower in the midst of uncertainty.  As the companion of wisdom and kindness, it opens us.  We learn to show up for this moment and the next as it IS, rather than how we WANT it to be.