This semester has been a totally different experience for me, not only academically but also personally. In taking on the challenge of working on my patience it really was more an exercise in trust and faith. What I did not anticipate was how much becoming patient with the world around me would result in becoming more patient internally as well. I did not count on learning to console myself, be more considerate to myself, and to reframe my thoughts. For example, I have been writing about establishing a workout and exercise regime for over 9 months. I would start something, then quit, and mentally beat myself up over it for the next few days. I was looking through old journals and I found the words written “When will you hate yourself enough to change?” I was disgusted by the comment, and that at some point in my life I thought that being so unhappy I would have no other option but to change was the only way to get it accomplished. Coincidentally this semester I have also been reading Geneen Roth’s book Women Food and God and in it she wrote:
The promise of a diet is not only that you will have a different body; it is that in having a different body, you will have a different life. If you hate yourself enough, you will love yourself. If you torture yourself enough, you will become a peaceful, relaxed human being.
Although the very notion that hatred leads to love and that torture leads to relaxation is absolutely insane, we hypnotize ourselves into believing that the end justifies the means. We treat ourselves and the rest of the world as if deprivation, punishment, and shame lead to change. We treat our bodies as if they are the enemy and the only acceptable outcome is annihilation. Our deeply ingrained belief is that hatred and torture work.
I see it, the hatred, as force. Hating my body or hating my lifestyle, hating my work ethic, everything done out of hate and then demeaning myself into change; change that never actually worked. What I found working on my patience was how to work from a place of love, love and acceptance that things do not happen according to my will nor my timeline. Consequences come regardless of my worrying, so why was I worrying? Being as impatient as I was, I realize now, indicated a discomfort with the present. I was constantly concerned of what was or what was to be rather than the present moment. I feel as if I’ve been more present and in my body this semester than ever before in my life, and that has been an accidental blessing.
A reading in the Tao Te Ching that stuck with me and that likely always will was one that spoke of sufficiency.
No disaster is greater than not knowing what is sufficient.
No crime is greater than avarice.
One who knows sufficiency will always have enough.
My life, as it was, could have been described as a great disaster because I was in constant want. Nothing was ever enough, I didn’t have enough money, friends, time, you name it and I could have used more of it. Because of my constant hunger, it seems when I received any rations of whatever I’d been craving, I would ravage through it. My hunger left me starving. Patience was a loaded challenge as it encompassed so many more virtues. Sufficiency; eating when I’m hungry and stopping when I’m not anymore, spending what is necessary and not spending frivolously, being busy when I’m busy and relaxed when I am not–it is all a byproduct of patience. In becoming patient with the universe and how things naturally unfold I could not live in hunger, it would have been counterproductive. The hunger left me anxious for the next and the next and the next. In saying, “I have enough,” I found myself less concerned with next and more focused on now. Only when I know what is going on now, in my body and outside of me, can I accurately appraise sufficiency. I now know that I am enough, I have enough, and if I am in need the it will be replenished in its own time and not a moment before (regardless of my pacing, complaining, stressing, or anxiety).
I knew a year ago that I had to take a class with Dr. Kim, I not-so-patiently waited for spring semester to roll around so that I could take advantage of this opportunity. I did not need the class, but I needed the class. I needed the lessons that I learned not only from Dr. Kim and our texts but from my classmates and their journeys. I have gained the pleasure of seeing clearly every moment of every day. I’ve gained the present, and really that’s everything.