In the din of the large open style office hall, a man was pouring over a sheet of papers for long hours, silently, quietly doing his work unperturbed by the noise even during the tea break. As a new comer to this office he stood out starkly as I watched him closely for a week. He maintained the same demeanour on work and was actually quite friendly when approached. I thought he would be a loner and a recluse but far from it. I could not help satisfying my curiosity as to how he maintained his cool. His reply with a smile was simple- ‘ignore the noise and tune your mind to your work’. ‘You will soon tune out of the din’. I thought that was a brilliant art for I for one always needed peace and silence to read and write and noise was sort of unbearable giving me a headache. But I soon learned the art of ‘mindfulness’ where you learn to focus your mind fully to whatever you are doing at the moment without distractions and with a lot of PATIENCE. When you are focusing on one task at a time, you will be able to do it patiently, without any hurry to get into another task.
I learnt a good lesson in the magnificent community library in Calgary Canada. Excited with my first visit we picked up books and video films and habitually went up to the desk to the lady behind it. She looked up at me but said nothing. My niece tugged my shirt and pulled me back behind the yellow line which I had not noticed at all! There was a queue with enough body space between the citizens all waiting patiently for their turn. I was embarrassed but fell in line. Waiting in line and waiting for your turn is so important a lesson to teach and learn. If we believe that all are equal and nobody is more important than the other and everyone’s time is valuable, we wait for our turn honourably, unless you are in an ambulance being rushed to the hospital!
An important observation was made by a friend of ours who seemed aggrieved at the fact that ‘rubbing against bodies’ in public areas has become an alarming malady. It seems like a disease which the majority seems to be afflicted by. In public arena people appear to be searching for a chance to rub against anybody. I thought this happens to women and girls only by men obviously, but he disagreed and said it happened to him all the time. People appeared to make no difference between the boundaries of their ‘self’ and the ‘other’ and seemed immune to the fact of touching another. This is pathological he cried for he is a sensitive person who has a sense of ‘touch’ of his own body and that of the other. The indifference of people to ‘touching and jostling’ in public was horrible and spoke of a serious disease. Impatience must make you an insensitive person for you do not seem to be aware of another person and do not mind disrespecting the other and trampling over the rights of the other. The impatient is aware of his rights only and nobody else matters. He is first and the last person on earth.
After a good response to my last feature on the ‘Impatient Indian’ I was requested to write more on the subject and on how to help people inculcate the trait of patience. That was encouraging indeed.
Besides the fact that patience is considered a virtue in Hindu thought and is extremely important for life and living, the psychological benefits have been equally highlighted by experts. It’s a trait that can be cultivated from childhood by the help of parents which can then become a part of the personality. But first people should understand the importance of it as well as focus on it as an imperative. I wonder how many parents would be treating it as the top five virtues to develop in their children and train them accordingly.
If you live with very senior parents, you will learn what patience is all about. Every action of theirs is slow and laboured, and you have to assist them with utmost care and patience. If a mother has a new born infant she understands the value of patience- the kid does not follow any time schedule nor has discipline and the mother has to bear it with patience.
Parents need to act as role models by being patient, standing in queues, waiting for their turn and being kind to senior citizens, women and children by showing courtesies. Parents themselves set wrong examples by disrespecting seniors, women, jumping traffic signals, jumping the queues, bribing officers on duty and taking short cut measures. Hyperactivity is a symptom in adults as well and not just a characteristic of kids. You see the devils on the road at breakneck speed at busy narrow roads and wish they go to hell for they scare the lights out of you with their crazy acts. Hyper stimulation comes from many sources and can soon be an affliction. Hyper active people behave like ‘headless chickens’ in public with no character and no purpose.
Teaching mindfulness and meditation can help calm the mind. Being aware of your breath and your state of being raises the level of general awareness. Patiently listening to your child and allowing him a proper expression will make him happy and satisfied. In turn he will be patient with you. When you have no time for family and children you send a wrong signal to them. Being aware of one’s goals and ambitions in life gives focus and a sense of purpose and meaning to life. Having meaningful tasks to do and engaging in them with a sense of devotion will inculcate patience. The belief that progress comes as a process and only ‘step by step’ and not as a high jump or a leap will bring a sense of patience. Preparing well in advance and not waiting for the last minute to do things will help develop patience. There are many good practices that can inculcate the trait of patience and can lead to the development of a good character. But for that one needs to have a calm, happy and patient mind- for patience breeds patience.