What is that saying, Patience is a virtue? I think in our culture, today, it would be more like: Patience is a bitch: a complete anomaly, an unnecessary relic of the past, something our grandparents may have talked about.
We are not born patient (think of a screaming infant ready to eat), but we are taught to be patient and that's the bitch about it.
How many times a day are we challenged to be patient? In traffic, at work, with technology, with our friends and family, with ourselves.
And the more impatient we get, the more life serves us opportunities to practice patience, which usually leads to more frustration and agitation.
Nothing makes an impatient person more impatient than being told to "Be Patient."
This comes up a lot in yoga practice. We start out as beginners and see others doing postures effortlessly with grace and beauty. RIght away we think "I want to do that right now!" So we push our bodies, forcing our limbs to go where they are not ready to go. Up comes frustration, anger, pain, and even injury which sets us back in our growth.
I've seen people hold their breath and turn red in the face just trying to reach their arms into a bind that clearly their body is not ready to do. I've done it too and I've learned it never gets me to where I want to go. Which is really the root of impatience: trying too hard get somewhere other than where we are; either physically, mentally or emotionally.
Why is the destination, the end result, so much more important to us than the journey? Because we are an impatient culture. We want everything RIGHT NOW. Our food/drinks, entertainment, phones, computers, dates/relationships, jobs, and money are all available to us instantaneously. There is no waiting for coffee to brew or dialing a telephone with our fingers waiting for seven digits to connect.
Everything we want or need is within reach at totally unrealistic speed. We are saturated with the message that faster is not only better, it's the only way of life we know: high speed internet, speed dial, instant messaging, microwave in seconds, no lines, no waiting, etc. So we come to our mat with these same expectations. We want full wheel, we want handstands and we want them now! We forget we are not wired like computers, we are not machines set at high speed, we are real and we are being taught patience.
Yoga is one of the greatest teachers of patience I know. (By the way, so is honey, try dripping honey verrrrry slowly into a cup of hot tea, it's quite meditative.)
In yoga we sit where we are. We breathe our way into postures slowly and mindfully. We allow what is to be, without pushing. We still our minds and feel our physical selves fully, without judgement. We remove our ego from the situation and allow our bodies and our breath to lead the way. For one hour there is no rush, no hurry, no desire to be anywhere else than where we are.
And after practice, when we return to the real world with it's unreal conveniences and speed, maybe we have just a tiny bit of appreciation for waiting for things to happen naturally, for allowing time to move at it's own pace without getting frustrated. Maybe we finally find the perfection of honey dripping slowly and loving ourselves exactly as we are.