Last week I led a yoga class on the theme of “acceptance patience”. This is a topic I have been interested in for some time after attending a meditation workshop centered around the book of internationally renowned Buddhism teacher Geshe Kelsang Gyatso.
In his book How to Solve Human Problems Gyatso writes: “Patience is a mind that is able to accept, fully and happily, whatever occurs. It is much more than just gritting our teeth and putting up with things. Being patient means to welcome wholeheartedly whatever arises, having given up the idea that things should be other than they are.”
While the individual trait of acceptance and patience in any living being are virtuous in their own right, united they form what I consider to be one of the most important ideas underpinning both yogic and modern day philosophy.
Acceptance: During the class I invited my students to draw on the affirmation of “I accept myself wholly, as I am.” Steeped in yogic philosophy is the concept of non-attachment or vairagya. Vairagya teaches us that if we stop identifying with our thoughts we are granted the space to see things as they really are. Attachment leads to suffering and practicing non-attachment – according to Patanjali – leads to self-mastery and a freedom from mind modifications (Sutra 1.12).
The application of vairagya on my own life involves constantly reminding myself that everyone around me is doing the best that they can – myself included. I believe that the more compassionate you are to yourself and to others, the less you are likely to allow the behaviour of others (and your own thoughts for that matter) to affect you. By exercising compassion, you are able to accept things as they are and spend less energy trying to change things. Start small here. Smile at a stranger on the street, stop and ask a person who looks lost if they need help, or resist the urge to comment on someone’s hairstyle or fashion sense.”
Patience: For me, this is about being okay with the fact you cannot control everything and everyone. Rather, I choose to believe there is a higher power at play here. Some call it the Universe, the Divine or God. The point here is to worry less about controlling everything and focus more on doing your best and being the best person that you can be. Exercise patience with yourself and others, and spend less time worrying about how your life will end up and more time just living.
Consider a short yoga or meditation session once a week as a way of giving back to the Universe and yourself. Use this practice as a way of injecting some positive and calming energy back into the Universe and see what comes of it.
Acceptance patience: These virtues combined surrender and compassion in its highest form. By exercising acceptance patience, you are surrendering to a power or force greater than you and taking absolute comfort in knowing that you have done so. Try it yourself and then encourage others to do it. Together we can help make the world a beautiful place. I truly believe this.