Is patience really such a virtue?

Patience, from the Latin patientia, a derivative of pati, to suffer or endure.

The trouble with patience:

Patience is our ability and willingness to endure misfortune and adversity.  Patience is certainly a virtue to my mind, conjuring as it does such synonyms as:  humility, submission, endurance, calmness, composure, self-restraint and equanimity.  And yet, some of these definitions may at first hand appear negative.  For example, if a person appears to be humble, are they perceived as allowing others to walk all over them?  Likewise with submissiveness.  However, when we bring to mind some of the other meanings of patience, namely the qualities of endurance, calmness, composure, self-restraint and equanimity, these appear to be wholly positive.  Many of us can confuse the concept of patience in order to get our own way in the end!!  This is simply the little self (the ego) trying to micro-manage every aspect of our life and that of others around us.

“I am extraordinarily patient, provided I get my own way in the end.”

– Margaret Thatcher, British Prime Minister (1979 – 1990)

 

The struggle is half the battle:

The busier we are with daily life, the less even-minded I feel.  My calmness disappears in a fog of ego-bound restlessness, frustration and impatience.  I guess many of us have this struggle at various times in our lives.  But is it self-imposed?  I think I’ve figured out why this is.  It’s all to do with our relationship with the big T: Time.

Time’s up!:

Time is a manufactured state that we humans imprison ourselves in and one against which we struggle impatiently throughout our lives.  There is a better way.  Look to the animal kingdom, to our pets.  Are they stressed about time?  Are they rushing to be somewhere at an allocated time and worried about others’ reactions if they happen to arrive late?  No, of course not!  Let’s stop putting ourselves under this time pressure.  Not so easy in the workplace, I grant you, but a few moments stepping back from the frenzy of time-restraints can reset our inner balance, enabling us to work thereafter with increased patience, calmness and equanimity (not riding the storm of emotions high and low).

How to nurture patience in your life:

So how can we develop and nurture patience, and all its synonymous qualities outlined above, in our daily lives?  Below are 3 examples:

  1. You’re late for work.
    Instead of flapping and rushing, pause, close your eyes and take as many calm breaths as you need. Then think through the situation logically. How might you create a win-win situation for you and your employer? For example, phone them to explain and offer to work later to make up the time.
  2. You give a task to someone to do and they have not done it by the desired time.
    Do not allow yourself to become angry. If you find yourself thinking disparaging or angry thoughts towards the person, do not give these more power by enunciating them. Instead say nothing and walk away for a few minutes to collect yourself. Keep trying to slow down the breath as this will allow you to think more clearly. Why was the desired time so important to you? Can the task be delayed? What are the reasons for the task not being done? Did you properly supervise the person and check in on their progress? How can you proceed? and so on. Any decision you take, or words you say, must not derive from chaotically-veering emotions but should be wisdom-guided.
  3. You are finding a painful situation (physical or emotional) intolerable.
    Remember that life is God’s play (lila) and we are simply the actors in it. Depending on our individual karma accrued from past lives and our current incarnation, we are presented with situations to challenge our bad habits and our attachment to this world of sensory pleasure. God wants to see if we will renounce all the wonders that He has provided for us and find pleasure in inner communion with Him. Can we trust in Him that everything will be alright? Can we find the humility to understand that we don’t control our lives, He does? Can we submit to this higher power in the wisdom that often the things that are good for us can sometimes initially seem painful?

Have a wonderful week, and remember to be patient!! Anita.

Love and kindness to all

Love is such a powerful emotion.  Most of us find it easy to love our nearest and dearest –  our family and friends – and for some people this is enough in life.  They see no need to extend their love outwards from this closed circle.  In fact, the thought doesn’t cross their mind at all!

I used to think like this, but now the thought of sharing love to others outwith my little circle crosses my mind all the time.  I know it’s God prompting me to act.   I believe the first and easiest way to extend love outward from family and friends is to focus on the local community, which has a diversity of layers and avenues to become involved in.

Here are a few things we can all do to show love and kindness to those in our community:

Donate:

Donate food, toiletries etc. to the local food bank for those who are struggling financially and cannot afford to feed themselves and their children.  Don’t donate with judgement in the back of your mind.  Just help people who need help and give gratitude to God that you are financially able to do so.  We think nothing of spending £10 on a good bottle of wine to take to a family gathering.  Include your local community as your family now!  I’ve decided to allocate 10% of my weekly food bill to the local food bank.  You could, if you prefer, allocate a specific amount each week, say £5 or £10.   Do it regularly.  Make it a new, positive habit in your life.  One added benefit of this is that you will feel good knowing you are making a difference.  Not only will you be changing others’ lives; you will be changing yours too!

Respect others:

Treat others respectfully:  do not use them for your own gains; think of their good points when they are being difficult; speak well of them to others; walk away if they seem intent on having an argument with you; do not read their private correspondence; give them space; allow them to be the person they are, not the person you want them to be.  Treat them as you would like to be treated.  In other words,

“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour.”  (Exodus 20:16)

 Actions speak louder than words:

Be actively helpful:  for example, pick up litter from your neighbour’s garden if you know s/he is unable to do so; if someone asks for your help, give it if you are able (this could be simple things like giving directions, opening a door for someone with a pram/in a wheelchair and so on); and that metal gate to the park which squeals and grates each time it is opened or closed – go ahead and grease it so that others will not have to hear it.  Actively look around your local community as you walk or drive through.  Where is help needed?  Can you phone the local refuse department to uplift an old sofa which has been lying on the grass verge for a week?  Can you phone the police department to install speed detectors on a local road where cars regularly speed?  Can you pester local community groups to do litter picks in your area?  If community groups are unaware of problems, how can they be expected to deal with them!  That’s where you come in!

I hope this post has given you a few ideas of how to spread love and kindness out to your local community.  Please feel free to send in your suggestions.  Much love, Anita. 😀

Plastic is not fantastic!

April 22nd is Earth Day 2018 and the campaign being highlighted this year is ending plastic pollution.  There’s an excellent pdf to read through if you want much more information on how the plastic we produce and throw away is seriously damaging our world, our marine life and ourselves.  Here’s the link to the downloadable pdf: Earth-Day-plastic-pollution-pdf.

What can we as individuals do to make a difference?

  1.  If you don’t do already, RECYCLE all your household waste, using the recycling bins provided by your local Council waste department.  If you don’t recycle, all your waste goes into landfill and can take hundreds of years to break down – and some of it never does.  Leave a nicer present to your children and grandchildren by helping to reduce the mountains of landfill rubbish.
  2. Much of our plastic packaging comes from food shopping.  When you are next at the supermarket, try these suggestions:
    • pick the fresh produce which is not wrapped in plastic.
    • favour glass and canned packaging over plastic.
    • Ask supermarket staff for paper bags to place unwrapped fruit and vegetables in.  If we keep pestering supermarkets, they eventually change their ways to retain our custom.
    • Take your own reusable non-plastic shopper bags to pack your food at the checkout.
    • Ask the supermarket manager when they will be introducing “plastic free aisles” such as those in Ekoplaza Dutch supermarket stores.  Plastic-free means using alternatives to plastic packaging – compostable biomaterials made from plants and trees.
    • Ask when they will eliminate plastic packaging in their own-brand products, as one UK frozen-food supermarket chain (Iceland) has already pledged to do by 2023.
  3. Use bio-bags (100% compostable and biodegradable; made from corn starch) for home bin liners and doggy poop bags.  I buy mine online but some local Councils have a supply of bio dog poop bags which you can uplift for free.
  4. If, like me, you don’t like the metallic taste of water straight from the tap, you could consider buying a filter tap for your kitchen sink rather than buying bottled water.  I’ve only just started researching these filter taps and they seem very expensive!!!  So, the search continues.
  5.  Stop buying antibacterial cleaners, complete with plastic packaging.  A study carried out by the BBC television programme Trust Me, I’m a Doctor showed that bacteria grow back within 20 minutes of using antibac products, and that soap and water were much more effective at keeping bacteria at bay for longer.  There’s a good article in The Telegraph about this.  I’ve also started using bicarbonate of soda mixed with a little water to make a paste.  I wipe this all over the surface to be cleaned (it’s great for restoring a stained sink to sparkling white!), leave a few minutes, then wipe off.  It’s really effective.  If you add vinegar, it reacts with the bicarbonate of soda and fizzes as you clean.  Who knew cleaning could be such fun.

I hope you’ve found some of these suggestions useful and food for thought.  If you’d like to share any of yours with others, please do leave your comments.  Anita.

 

Are you present?

Being present:

I remember from my school days the register, or roll call, being taken every morning before class began.  You were expected to answer to your name being called with “Present Miss/Sir”.  Often times, I’d be busy day dreaming, looking out of the window wishing I were out there too.   That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy school, I did.  I loved the challenges and was fiercely competitive but also easily bored with work which was too easy for me.   In any case, if during daydreaming, I didn’t say “Present Sir/Miss”, this would be met with a palpable silence and then that feeling of all the faces turning to look at me with heightened interest.  “Was she daring to ignore the teacher?”  Was this what my fellow pupils were wondering as their necks craned round?  Then I would hear the teacher’s booming voice laced with sarcasm, “Miss B_____, are you present?”

image: Pixabay

 What is consciousness?:

I guess I wasn’t really consciously present in the sense implied.  I was in another ‘present’ of my own making.  I was sailing in my imagination, oblivious to the ‘real’ physical world all around me.  When we experience the joy of this inner world of the imagination, we are actually bringing our subconscious mind to the fore, which is the same part of our mind used in the dream state.   We are ‘present’ but not in the physical world, not in the world of the conscious mind ruled by our senses and restless thoughts.

This is the state I enter when I write.  I take myself out of the physical world and into the different reality of my imagination.  I am fully present in this world where time can seem to stand still or speed by, where tasks are completed seemingly effortlessly, where joy is felt.    Call it “being in the flow”, “being fully present” or “being mindful”, it signifies a calm state of active concentration and can be highly conducive to productivity and creativity.

How to put this into practice:

Try this relaxation practice to disengage your mind from the conscious reality of logic, reason and restless thoughts and allow you to access the subconscious mind.  It will take perhaps 10 minutes.  Sit quietly ideally where you won’t be disturbed, feet on the floor, hands on your thighs, spine straight.  Say an intention or mantra, eg. “I am calmly relaxed, ready for any task.”  Take a few long, deep breaths, trying to equalise the in-breath and out-breath.  As you do so, visualize a current of gentle heat rising from your feet very slowly up through the legs, your torso, the arms, chest, neck, head and face.  As this warmth rises, concentrate on the muscles and will them to relax.   Now, see, and feel the warmth of, this ball of white heat in the centre of your chest and watch it expand outwards as you breathe.  Fill the room with this white-hot ball of light and bask in its warmth and energy.  Sit quietly, slow your breathing and keep concentrating on the light and the sense of warmth and peace it brings.  Imagine it expanding even more to encompass the room, then outwards into your town.  Send this light out to everyone who needs its comfort and energy.  Repeat your intention or mantra.  You should be feeling pretty amazing by now!  Open your eyes.  You are ready to get started on your task!

 

Kindness as an Antidote to Pain

“Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom”, Marcel Proust.

This is an article of mine which was recently published in Fibromyalgia Magazine (Feb 2018).  In it, I put forward the idea that even (and especially) if we have a chronic health condition, it is important that we become ‘gardeners who make the souls of others blossom’!   Here’s the pdf file of the article.

image used with thanks from ‘natureworks’ at Pixabay.