Patience is love of self, part 1

Patience is a form of love.  It is the letting go of the need to control all that is happening around us.  It is the cultivation of trust that all is well even if at the moment, our plans and expectations are not being met as we envisioned that happening.  Patience begins with ourselves.  We can’t really offer patience to another freely if we can’t offer it to ourselves. We can offer it but perhaps with strings attached or at a  price if we have not really embraced patience within ourselves at a deep level.

Drepung Gomang Monastery in Nashua, NH by stargazr
Drepung Gomang Monastery in Nashua, NH by stargazr

Often when I work with those who self-report they are impatient in their lives, including myself,  the core blocked energy has begun as  impatience due to  a critical view of ones accomplishments, mastery, self-perceived expertise or skills.  There is a deeply held myth that if we are critical of ourselves, we will work harder than if we are complimentary of ourselves.  Neither statement is true, in the sense of eternal and lasting  because both views are evaluative and therefore not accepting of what is in the present moment.

Here are two contrasting thoughts on the same  day by a person before he opened to Peace and just after he asked for Divine Presence in his day.

Damn it, why can’t I ever get my things together and get out of the house on Saturday in an orderly timely manner.  One thing after another and I have shot the whole bloody day.

I just can’t seem to focus for some reason today to get the things done I wanted to.  I wonder what else I need to be doing on a day like today?

The first is self-judgmental in tone with anger and impatience with self.  The second is loving and accepting of what is, with a sense of wonder about what else might be going on.

untitled by ~FreeBirD®~   To describe a feeling of smooth is so hard when you know its about the calm times.  There are no unwanted winds and sudden rush of time to worry about... You just look into those waters and feel.... Wish I was that calm and the world around was so peaceful.   We all want to be nice but things with time makes you know and learn how the world is..... One for its own... !!
untitled by ~FreeBirD®~ To describe a feeling of smooth is so hard when you know its about the calm times. There are no unwanted winds and sudden rush of time to worry about... You just look into those waters and feel.... Wish I was that calm and the world around was so peaceful. We all want to be nice but things with time makes you know and learn how the world is..... One for its own... !!

Impatience is often wrapped up with time stress.  If I could just get this last thing done and off my list, I could have a bit more freedom tomorrow.  If I could just  fit this last errand in, I would feel I had accomplished something. If I could just make time work for me, the way I envision it, I can perhaps get everything done I need to and then I’d be able to  relax.  As long as we tie our amount of relaxation to accomplishment, we are living in the greater context of impatience.  If were were patient and in Right Relationship with time, we could simply look at the clock and say, “Right, time for exercise, this can wait for tomorrow.”  Often these decisions are within our own control but we give our power to time stress and impatience.

Impatience is the gap between our expectations and what is.

What if we had no expectations of how or when something might be done? What if we made a sacred commitment to something and let Divine Presence lead us as to when and how that might be accomplished with grace and ease?

When I was 38, I was seriously working my desire to be a spiritual healer.  I was enthusiastically consuming two or three books a week.  I was devouring all the workshops I could fit in and spending huge amounts of time in Silence.  I was also regularly talking fervently to God about becoming a spiritual healer.  From this vantage point,  I see I was simultaneously afraid I was not going to make it to my goal and also afraid I would get there and not know what I was doing.   This was all mixed in with some quandaries about my sanity given that I knew no one going about this like I was.  These feeling though I closely held to myself.

In fairness, there were no proven paths to becoming a spiritual healer when I was entertaining this.  I did not know where the inner call came from but I did know that I was passionate about it beyond anything I could control. There was however a deep level of impatience with the slow methodical process of gaining skills and confidence in spiritual healing.

The zeal I had for “getting this stuff” was crackling with energy and drive.  I loved the high of learing about spiritual healing.  So, when I finished my studies, wrote my last paper, was ordained as a minister of spiritual healing, I thought, ” AT LAST,  I am ready to go.”  Looking back my struggle with impatience though had just begun.

As I worked, I realized how green I was.  I knew I was afraid of getting in over my head.  I dreaded someone coming in and wanting to work on something I knew nothing about.  I kept wondering how is this all going to work its way out?  How am I ever going to come in to a place of Peace about this work I felt so energized around?

Waiting Monk by h.koppdelaney
Waiting Monk by h.koppdelaney

Silence, silence and more silence.  That was the answer for me.  I was to sit and sit and sit some more while Divine Presence worked on me.  I was to face my judgment head on, rout out my issues, one my one, and continuously name the doubts and fears I was giving my power to.  Slowly, slowly, as I would work through a set of issues say around pride, I’d get three clients working on the same issues, no kidding.  Everything came in threes.  If I had looked at the issues manifesting as sore knees, three clients would come in with the same issues to look at for themselves.  This went on for years and years.

Patience, patience, patience kept coming up.  I had to systematically and continuously let go of my expectations and embrace what was.  When I didn’t, I would routinely hit a brick wall and feel bruised on every conceiveable level.   Whenever I would race ahead and wonder, why am I not able to hear what is needed for another?   Why am I not feeling connected to this client in the way I want to be?   I would crash and burn usually trashing myself  in the process.   I had no colleagues who could say, good job.  I was the ONLY person who could say that to myself because of the isolated and confidential nature of my work.

I had to methodically learn to love myself and in the process give up my impatience with not being perfect!!  No one told me this journey was about these things.  It just is though.

New week, Part 2 ,  Calling out impatience within ourselves.

Doing Our Spiritual Work

Picture by -- mon of the loin

For 18 years, I had chronic back pain.  It began four or five months before I was in an automobile accident or I might have blamed the other driver.  I had been working full time,  doing research for my doctoral thesis, moved in with my husband’s family, taken a new job which I barely tolerated,  left it for another job with higher visibility,  and regularly traveled internationally. I began to have constant pain during those months and then I was hit from behind by a van at a stop light.  The entire back of my car was crunched to the back seat.   I wore a neck brace off and on for months. This began my chronic pain odyssey.

Looking back,  my way of responding to all this could be summed up as pushing, harder and harder. I did not really reevaluate my choices, take care of myself, ask my Greater Power for help or work less.  In truth, I did not personally know a Higher Power.  I was determined not to let the pain, hold me back, keep me down or seal my fate.  I simply ramped up doctors’ appointments, scheduled more exercise,  added weight lifting, and mostly tried to ignore the pain during the week.  However, every Saturday, I was either a whiny lump in the bed or an angry, impatient demanding person, still on the treadmill of life.

I don’t know if someone had suggested then, that I meditate whether I would have listened. Probably not, as I was not listening much anywhere and certainly not to myself.   I was so determined to “get this pain licked” that I pursued all types of treatments and doctors looking for a cure.  I went about this with my relentless determination to conquer the pain.  I simply would not give up and I would not be beaten.

One day when I had gotten my husband to rig up a picnic bench on a 45 degree angle and had strapped myself to it with bungee cords, head down, feet up,  I did briefly wonder whether I was completely beyond the pale.  Bless his heart, he did not say a word !  I could have been dubbed “the little train that could”.  At that point,  I had not yet encountered anything that I could not manage, respond to, overcome or solve, myself.  The idea of asking for help from God literally never crossed my mind.  There was help everywhere.  Along this pain trek,  I had personally experienced enough pain management techniques to write a book.  I knew I was an independent woman, completely competent and self-sufficient, just one in constant pain.

Picture by -- ericarhiannon

The pain finally wore me down. My stubborn independent streak was very deep, however and persisted for 16 years until I actually asked out loud for help.   I was away on a weekend with my husband and was  in such excruciating and constant pain that I was in the bath tub crying, running the water so he could not hear me.  In a moment of great surrender, I said out loud that I so desperately wanted to be free of pain so that I could stop focusing on me all the time and use my energy to help others.  By that time, all my discretionary time went to pain management and seeking help.  I had lost myself in all that misery.  I had hit bottom.

It took me hitting bottom before I really, really asked with all my heart, my soul and my energy for help from the Great I AM.  When my time came, I was calling out for help from a sense of  deep anguish and pain.  The moment though froze in my memory because I realized it was the first time I had actually asked for help for myself.  I had spent years and years trying to get well myself and I suppose I thought this was my last hope.

My general learning from this odyssey in looking back is:

  • ask for Divine help in the beginning
  • ask in as many ways as needed
  • ask knowing without a doubt help will come
  • hold the healing space until it comes
  • stay open as to how it comes

Ask even if you don’t think you know how, even if you don’t think you know God, even if you think you have asked before and feel you were not answered.  Ask anyway.  Keep asking.

The question may arise, do we ask God for help in the same way we might ask a friend for help? Maybe yes, maybe no.   No, if we think of asking for help when we feel lack, insufficiency, need or frustration.  Yes, if we ask friends for help from a place of appreciation, possibility and expansive positiveness.  When we come to a place where we feel imbalance, ask knowing that all the help that is needed is available, that your positive energy is expansive,  that the Universe is full of infinite possibility.  Limitation is fear speaking, not possibility speaking.

These are the most powerful commands I know, which I take to Divine Knowing now, when I am in a situation which is unbalanced.

  • Show me where am I separated from God/Divine Peace/The Great I AM.
  • Show me what lessons I need to learn before I can move on from here.
  • Show me the  fear I am I carrying which is fueling my pain/this situation/my thoughts and feelings.
  • Show me what benefits I am getting from continuing to live my life the way I have been in this situation.

I have to be absolutely sure I am fully ready to ask for this type of support and insight before I act.  What usually follows is a series of  very tough interactions with people or myself, usually resulting in my feeling upset, angry, embarrassed or all three until I “get” what is fueling my pain,  my situation or my relationship.  Before I knew this, I did not realize I was jumping into the flames and that this was super hard and super productive.  Typically when I ask to be shown,  I get many, many chances in the space of a few days to fully see what I am doing which is manifesting imbalance in my life.

kill the voices_by_aindschie

One week when I was just beginning to see what was behind my back pain,  I got very angry with everyone in my path because I felt I was getting no support on several projects at work,  on every single task at home and from committee members at my church.  By the end of the week,  I was literally steaming and in horrible pain as well.   I finally got that if I continued to think I needed no help, was totally self-sufficient and continued to make no space for people to want to help me, I would continue to feel as I was feeling.

Love Light by Dreamer

As I let this all sink in, my back started to relax.  Here was a tiny glimmer of connection.  This glimmer  continued to grow and grow as I learned to stop pushing myself, began to ask for needed help with appreciation and felt moved to feel gratitude inside for my blessings.  At the end of the week, I remembered that I had of my own accord, asked to be shown what lessons I needed to learn.  I was dumbfounded by  the entire week.  It had all been orchestrated for my learning.  This was both humbling and utterly amazing for me to experience my very own self.

We can only change ourselves.   However, we can spend as much time as we want to thinking of how to change others,  what it would look like if another would act in a certain way and what it would be like for us if they would simply change and do it our way.   In fact, we can spend whole lifetimes thinking in this way.  We have all the time we need.  It is up to us.  We can change our thoughts and feeling now, or later, or never.  We only have consequences ahead to encounter, depending on our choices.

Focusing on changing others is a great way to remain separated from our own power.  If we work out our imbalances as other people’s issues, we can repeat the situations over and over again in all kinds of settings until we do finally get good and tired, or good and sick, or good and fed up.   Then we might begin to ask to be shown what we need to learn with our entire heart and soul in order to work our way out of the imbalances we are in.

This is doing our spiritual work. This is growing our consciousness.  This is claiming our power.  This is creating with the bountiful love that is all around us.  This is the future that awaits us which is full of the amazing choices for love in every aspect of our lives.  When we look at our part in imbalance, with love and seeking, we are likely to see what we have not seen before, name it, release it and move on.  And so it is, for all of us.

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Loving of Self

“Loving myself seems indulgent.  What is all this stuff about loving oneself?  I get the best feelings when I help others meet their needs regardless of myself.  When I focus on myself,  I feel selfish.”

A spiritual definition of loving oneself might be a place to begin.  Indulging oneself is yielding to our wants, desires and whims whether or not they are good for us.  Loving oneself is making space for those things which feed our soul, our heart and our bodies.

Indulging oneself might be buying another tee-shirt in a color we don’t have or drinking the third beer when two is really enough for the particular evening.  Taking a walk outside to be in fresh air and allow all our cares to float away with the wind, is loving of self.   Calling a good friend to reconnect because we have been meaning to do it could also be loving of self.  The first examples are little treats we might want which we give ourselves permission to do.  They can be fun and though they are not really needed, we might say, “go ahead, you deserve them”.  The second set of choices are  gifts to ourselves of something we really need and benefit from, in order to feel love’s flowing energy in our lives.  They are both fine approaches to living, the latter though can bring balance and flowing energy to our sense of self and our bodies.

Hiking   Swiss Alps near Grindelward by Joffe Striker
Hiking by Jofre Ferrer Swiss Alps near Grindewald

Why is loving ourselves so hard to do?

Perhaps because we have not ever seen this behavior modeled.  Perhaps because when we do things for others, we get recognition and appreciation from another which strokes our ego temporarily.  Perhaps it is hard to love ourselves because  we don’t recognize our real needs or even know what is a loving act for ourselves.

Loads of us put a very high value on what gets external recognition, reward or influence with others.  Others make daily choices that will “get them ahead”, “get them in good with so and so”, or “pay off in the long run”.  For example, Washington D.C. is one place I have lived where folks actually get together at breakfast meetings for the long run. When I first moved there, I was astounded to discover this repeatedly. When we continue to fill our days with such choices, our time gets filled up with things we think will bring us concrete rewards in the future.  The present can become stale and literally lifeless. Our self suffers.

Then there are choices to help others because it is the right thing to do, it is my role in life, it is required and it is certainly expected of me.  Frequently, women tell me they have no time for themselves because they are fully committed to their children, their husbands, their parents, their pets, their neighbors, their synagogue ( church) and the PTA.  Men often tell me between home and work, there is no time to even consider what might be a loving act for self.  The very thought of it is often strange to contemplate.

A choice to love oneself is foreign in a world where we so often measure ourselves by how well we are doing externally and how fully we meet our responsibilities.  A loving choice towards oneself only works when we move beyond finding pleasure in the way others see us, in our external indications of success and in the material possessions and experiences we can gather at will.  A loving choice for self, requires some deep time with our own integrity to even begin to recognize what that might be for ourselves. We may have to make some mistakes before we know what really feeds us on the inside.  Keep trying though, it is a pathway to the Divine.

When we love ourselves, we are actually able to come closer and closer to the divinity within. When we lose ourselves” to an endeavor of love such as a garden, a hot bath, a painting or walk up a mountain, we totally commune with ourselves.   We are One with All That Is.  We are not separate from All That Is unless we choose to be by not taking time to “be still and know that I AM God”.  Loving oneself is a spiritual act, an act of loving kindness which enables our deep well of love to flow without consideration of the outcomes, rewards or implications.  A choice for love enables us to be in the present moment which is all there really is, anyway.

Lots of  by
Lots of by Sandra Mora

We are not loving ourselves when we are pushing ourselves to do ANYTHING. We are not loving ourselves when we see ourselves as sacrificing our health, well-being or personal needs.  We are not loving ourselves when we are trying to please others, influence others, impress others, get something from another or act some way other than in integrity with ourselves.  We are not loving ourselves when we constantly choose others’ needs over our own needs.

Well, what about if we have to do something and the only way is to push ourselves to do it? A mental and spiritual adjustment may be needed but pushing is really not loving of self.

I was a life time hoarder before I worked with my mother to clear out her house where she had lived 40 years.  I rarely threw anything out and the thought of spending an afternoon cleaning out seemed a completely distasteful experience.  At 86,  my mother finally decided she needed to move to a retirement center.   I was the only one able to work with her to clear out the house, make the choices for keeping, throwing and selling of her things.  I dreaded the thought of what had to be done.

I literally felt sick thinking that I had to do this but there was no other way presenting itself.  I knew enough spiritually to realize that I needed to clear my fear of clearing out the family homestead and my fear of getting overwhelmed doing it.  If I didn’t,  I would simply make the process agony for myself and my mother.  My mother was already overwhelmed enough for the both of us.

I asked myself, what is the most loving way I can do this without pushing myself, beating myself up, or going into anger and rage about what needs to be done? I decided to move my work around to allow for two days out of town with my mother each week until the work was finished.  That schedule, I could handle.  I could enjoy being with my mother if I was not paying heavily with my own life.  I could  have enough energy in small doses to actually  be helpful.  I could retreat at a given time and re-marshall my energy to be my most effective loving self.  This way to work with my mother was a choice for love, and one of the biggest I had ever made.  That time became a blessings for us so thoroughly and deeply, I could have never imagined it, ever.  The love simply grew and grew between my mother and myself and between my brothers and me as well.  The love simply took over and the work got done with the Grace of God, with Love’s Divine Presence!  That choice for love turned out to be one of the best experiences Mom and I had ever had in our entire life.  We laughed and cried with abandon and wove our hearts together in a new way.

When we choose to love ourselves, everyone around us benefits. We engage our highest self because we put ease, grace and love on the front burner.  The act of loving oneself is deeply sacred because it helps us really know the deep integrity involved in making a loving choice for ourselves.   One act of loving towards self can teach us more about love than helping everyone on the street and all our next of  kin.   When we put ourselves into the equation for loving acts towards others, we truly engage the part of us which acts from a pure place of service, loving without need for recognition, reward or attachment.

There is such a thing as a self-centered or selfish person.  That is different from making loving decisions for oneself.  A self-centered person operates from a space of lack.  I need this to happen in this way and these folks to act in that way,  for the following to occur.  A loving choice for self can only be made  from a completely different well inside.  In that well is integrity, self-acceptance, allowing and kindness.  From that one space, love can expand in infinite directions.

When we experiment and practice making loving decisions, then our choices to help others come from that well of loving kindness inside rather than from the well of shoulds, ought to and have tos.  We can then allow the natural order of Divine Love Energy to swirl around, up and through us and extend out to all we meet.  Make the choice for love of self with as much humility, kindness and gentleness as you can.  You and everyone around you will be richer for this.

What choices can you make today which are loving ones for yourself ? Share these if you’d like, in the comments section at the end of this post.