Friday, June 29, 2012

Trying to improve my patience

I am interested in improving my ability to be patient.  Not to procrastinate but to wait when waiting is indeed called for.  This statement by Suzuki has been inspirational lately.

"The problem with the word patience," said Zen master Suzuki Roshi, "is that it implies we are waiting for something to get better, we are waiting for something good that will come. A more accurate word for this quality is constancy, a capacity to be with what is true moment after moment, to discover enlightenment one moment after another."

Kornfield, Jack; Siegel, Dr. Daniel (2011-12-21). Bringing Home the Dharma: Awakening Right Where You Are (p. 138). Shambhala Publications. Kindle Edition.

This passage in "DNA USA" by the geneticist Bryan Sykes was also helpful.  His picture of support and sustenance for loved ones depending wise use of waiting time has stuck in my mind:

So important was the bison hunt that the band could not afford to be late and so they waited, relaxing while one of them took up position on the mound half a mile away to warn of the approaching herd. Nowadays we would be bored after a few hours, but boredom was a luxury that never featured in the lives of our ancestors. I say our ancestors because this scene, or something very similar, was also being played out in Europe and Asia at the same time. For the members of the band, about twenty strong, were not bored, only patient. The children threw pebbles into the stream that ran along the canyon floor, parting the reeds to discover frogs that hopped back into the cover of the vegetation. Occasionally they would disturb a rattlesnake and, well aware of the danger, taunt it with sticks as it coiled and shook its scaly tail.

Waiting was a skill our ancestors had perfected, but the time was far from wasted. While the children played by the stream, the adults were making sure thay they were ready for the moment to come. The men unfolded the squares of deerskin that held their principal weapon, the glistening flint spear points that would soon be fixed to long sticks of fire-hardened cottonwood. They had been packed away six months earlier in the spring when the bison had reversed their journey on the way to their summer grazing grounds. Now the men took each of their points in turn and ran their fingers along the edges, tapping them expertly with a bone pick to remove a tiny flake here and there and renew the cutting surface. They tested the sharpness of the edge against their thumbnails. If it dug in rather than slide across the surface, the edge was sharp enough. And sharp it had to be to slice through the tough hide of a bison, through a gap in the ribs and into the beating heart of the great beast. Once the men were satisfied, the points were wedged into notches cut into the end of hardened stakes. They were not tied with sinew; any binding would only slow the passage of the weapon through flesh. The journey was only one way, and if the spear was withdrawn for any reason, the point detached and remained where it was.

Sykes, Bryan (2012-05-07). DNA USA: A Genetic Portrait of America (Kindle Locations 178-193). Norton. Kindle Edition.

Having something like knitting always at hand, something "to do", is also helpful.  Dr. Charles Stroebel, MD, in QR: The Quieting Reflex advised making good use of the time it takes for a traffic light to turn green or the clerk to get to you or the phone to be answered.  He advised using the interval to search one's face, shoulders and the rest of the body for tension that could be relaxed.  A mini-meditation is a handy tool to call on for spare moments.  Loretta Laroche advised standing on one foot to pass time, some minutes, such as when being yelled at.
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