Patience as a practice
When someone starts to get serious about doing sadhana (spiritual practice) in yoga they will usually be guided by their mentor or teacher to do the practice for 40 days. Why 40 days? I don't really know. But this duration must holds some importance- Lent is 40 days, Moses led his people through the desert for 40 days, Noah traveled in his Ark for 40 days and 40 nights. (Ramadan is 30 nights, and some tantric traditions suggest 30 days as an appropriate time for sadhana.)
I have done many 40 day practices, and my experience is that around days 25-30 things get really hard. You begin to forget the original intention behind the practice, your determination begins to flag, you get antsy, and you start to internally list the 1000 things you should be doing instead.
We are now 36 days post studio closing. I don't remember the actual date that the NJ Governor Phil Murphy decreed all non-essential businesses need to close, as our household essentially started our confinement on the 16th, the day the studio closed the physical location. That was my husbands first day of working from home, my kids were on their already isolated spring break, and I turned my attention to shifting everything online. So now there are 4 days left to complete my family's 40 day practice of confinement, and most of you are not far behind, if not ahead.
In retrospect, last week, the 30ish day of the practice, we started to sag here. My daughter spent a few very sad days and just wanted to stay in bed, I didn't think I could face teaching another class in front of a camera, my husband was about to melt down from the stress at work. I heard from other people that they were similarly uncomfortable or despondent.
By the end of the week, I found things shifting again. And we are still here, getting more comfortable in the not-so-new-anymore rhythm, and expanding our ability to align ourselves in the way the world is now. It was then I recognized the progression of a 40 day practice. The thing about taking on a 40 day practice in the yoga world is you know once the 40 days is over, so is the practice. However, for those of us who are "lifers" when it comes to doing sadhana, there is always another 40 day practice to take on. And sometimes one finds 40 days was not enough, and the practice gets extended to 120, 180 or 360 days. After a few practices under your belt, you begin to realize that the first 40 days of a practice is just the introduction- sometimes it takes the first 40 days just to understand how to organize your life and family around your sadhana commitment (or visa versa). Then, when you see it CAN be done in that first 40 days, and HOW to do it, the next 40,120, 360 days of practice is when the real internal work happens.
I was listening to an old lecture by Parvathi the other day and she said something so amazing about patience which I will try to paraphrase, although I am sure I won't do it justice- Patience is not when we are sitting and waiting for something to be over (I think we can call that tolerance). Patience is staying present while knowing you don't know when, or if, or how, it (whatever it is) will end. What you do know is that you can not do anything to speed the process along.
So our sadhana of patience continues on, and all of us are in the practice together this time. If you feel like you are failing, don't despair, this is a known characteristic of all sadhana. The one thing we can know, as happens with all dedicated sadhana, is that we will emerge from this changed. And as sadhana is designed to increase consciousness, we can know that our change is evolving us and the collective consciousness. We will all understand the change in ourselves and the world differently as everyone's practice is unique to them. I am confident that we can recognize an acceleration in consciousness if we choose to look for it. Like tantric sadhana, it may not be apparent at first, but it is there. Anyway that is what I am going to look for as this practice evolves in comprehension, integration and duration. I hope you will join me in that outlook.
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