So far on our caterpillars’ metamorphic journey, we have grown from Self-reflection, Truth, Faith, Awareness, and Acceptance. Now we are half way through our journey, and it’s time to take a pause. Not a break, but a pause to take in some deep breaths to soak in all that has come to light about ourselves and to exhale out all that we no longer want or need. In the process that has led us to this point, many of us may have already noticed the amount of patience required for growth. Patience develops from acceptance and leads to a sense of peace within.
For the sixth month, think about the people or things in your life that you need to be more patient with, including yourself. What can, or do, you do to bring the serenity of patience into those situations? And, where along your metamorphic path have you struggled to be patient? Keep in mind that patience is a continuous practice, and as with all practices, it does get better with time.
A friend of mine once said, “If you pray to God for patience, you’ll keep getting all sorts of situations that will challenge you to be patient!” As humorous as her statement was, it is true that life is full of opportunities for us to learn and practice patience. I’ve been told that I am incredibly patient, and it is true that the greater the stress I am under, the calmer I get. However, that does not mean I don’t experience situations where I need to work on being patient.
As those who have been following along with these Butterfly Journal entries, you know that my mother’s personality and sociopathic behaviors try my patience nearly every day. This past week she has absolutely refused to do anything anyone asks her to (which is usually simple things like please get dressed, please sit down, please leave that alone…). It’s her normal MO (before Alzheimer’s) to not want to do whatever it is someone asks of her. So, this week has been full of her knowingly ignoring others, doing the opposite of what she’s asked, and being defiant and/or violent.
So, what do I do? How do I stay or return to a state of calm when faced with this? The most important thing I do, is breathe deeply. Any stressful situation causes our muscles to tighten, including the muscles attached to the ribcage (and there are a lot – from the neck, on the back, between the ribs, on the chest, from the abdomen, and within the ribcage, the diaphragm). Our heart rate also increases, and both of these physical reactions to stress cause us to take shallower and shorter breaths. Deep, slow breathing is maybe the quickest natural remedy for calming down. If my mother settles down, I may continue on to more specific Pranayama practices. Occasionally, I will even chant Mantras. Chanting or singing hymns has been a powerful practice for me since I could barely talk, and when feeling stressed it disperses the negative and agitated energy easily.
Like most of us, I can also make myself stressed and impatient by worrying about all the things that need to get done, or carrying residual feelings of being upset from something that happened yesterday, and so on. All forms of Yoga have been an integral part of my daily life for much of my life, and these practices have helped me manage and work through some very trying times with patience and grace.
Another practice that has helped me a lot with working with the challenges of my present situation has been my “rooftop yoga.” It’s exactly what it sounds like: I do yoga on the roof. It may be a vinyasa practice, a yin yoga practice, a sitting meditation practice, some pranayama, chanting, or a combination thereof. These practices all work wonders for the body, mind, and soul, but it is the location that adds extra emotional and spiritual support: from the nurturing radiance of the Sun, from the flutters and smiles of the various butterflies, from the chirping and chanting birds that hang out in the garden below, from the extra balancing challenges that the wind that also carries away irritation for me brings, from the energy of the two giant redwoods and the palm tree nearby, and especially from what I call “Yoga Tree.” Yoga Tree doesn’t look like much but it is filled with all sorts of birds – doves, sparrows, finches, blue jays, bushtits, chickadees, hummingbirds, and crows, living patiently and in harmony with each other, with the tree, with Mother Earth, and with Source. Yoga Tree reminds me that our natural nature is to live patiently at peace, in harmony, and in union/yoga with all in the Universe.
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