Between stimulus and response
there is a space
In that space is our power to choose our response
In our response lies our growth and our freedom.
Viktor Frankl, Austrian neurologist, psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor, in this, his definition of the power of pause, describes the gap into which grace and growth can flow. As we consider the practice of patience, the image of Frankl’s “space” comes to mind. Having the patience to sit without reaction, having the strength of self to watch the urge toward habitual response, and choosing not to—this is the cognitive repatterning that the yogis promise us.
Different traditions language this process in their own vernacular. Twelve Step program, in its brilliant simplicity, gives us a practical and powerful anchor into the practice of patient non-doing by offering the busy and active addictive mind this guidance:
Don’t just do something—
From another tradition and perspective, Lin Yutang, Chinese writer and scholar, of the 20th century, offers us his words. Can’t you almost feel a deep breath of relief as you read the following?
Besides the noble art of getting things done,
there is the noble art of leaving things undone.
Bringing that sacred pause into our practice, we allow life to unravel in its own way. We partner with life by taking action, while letting go of the results, allowing that which unfolds to prove more remarkable than anything we might create ourselves. The phrase, more will be revealed becomes a literal promise in this practice of powerful patience.
Let’s consider two aspects of patience. The first pillar is the powerful practice of patient pausing, which calls us into self-observation without judgment, the watching of our internal response to the moment and choosing our reaction. Clearly patience is needed to develop this muscle of non-judgmental awareness. The second pillar, the potent practice of patient non-doing, not pushing the river, or attempting to force a solution, recalibrates our relationship with reality, shifting us into a more impactful and more effective position. Life simply knows better than we do! More will be revealed as we “hold the posture”, letting life take the lead.
You might be thinking, oh, great idea—yet how might I practice? Here are some simple considerations for this upcoming week—pick one, pick all, pick none. Just consider:
- Is there one arena in your life in which you are over-involved, attempting to force a solution?
- Without judgment, watch yourself. Bless the humanity that you bring to that arena of life.
- What might you do to practice letting go, allowing the situation to unfold? What would that look like? Be specific.
- What is one practical and concrete thing you can do TODAY to practice patience?
I end with these words from the brilliant meditation and mindfulness teacher, Sharon Saltzberg, who reminds us of the passionate nature of patience. Let’s breathe and relax, as we conclude with Sharon’s invitation into impassioned living:
Patience doesn’t mean making a pact with the devil of denial,
ignoring our emotions and aspirations.
It means being wholeheartedly engaged in the process that’s unfolding,
rather than ripping open a budding flower or demanding a caterpillar hurry up
and get that chrysalis stage over with.
As always, these practices open the door to the savoring of life. Let us go forth and savor, dear readers!
Dear Guests, please keep me posted. How does this conversation land for you? Feel free to email me at aruni@rnetworx with any feedback. The privacy of our email exchange can keep our practices vital.