The day had finally come. We were moving back into an honest-to-goodness house after years of apartment living. But instead of waking up giddy with excitement, I was filled with stress and anxiety. I wanted this, but the anticipation of the physical pain of moving and dread of the weeks of living among boxes was weighing on me.
That’s when my loving husband brought our two teenage sons and me together and reminded us that moving is stressful, tiring, and emotional. We needed to be patient with ourselves and each other. We needed to help, motivate, and encourage each family member. Thinking just about ourselves and our own pain would only bring everyone down, so we needed to be gentle and kind. Everyone would benefit.
At a recent Treasury of Knowledge retreat, Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche talked about the importance of patience in the process of change. We can’t rush it, even though we are eager for our “new normal.”
In the middle of change, we want to hurry to get to the next stage, but change is a great opportunity to slow down and see the impermanent nature of reality and to break habitual patterns. When these opportunities arise, it’s important to savor them instead of rushing through them. Rinpoche gave the example of driving a car in fog in the mountains. With fog, we have difficulty seeing in front of us, and thus it’s important to move with awareness. A poor decision could cause us to run off the road. The same is true when taking on a new career or moving to a new home.
Take your time, enjoy the fogginess of the new experience, and be mindful about decisions that need to be made. Take this opportunity to create new, better habits and to break old ones that cloud judgment.
Exercise: Cultivating Patience During Change – Some ideas
- Mindfulness Practice. Dipa Ma said, “If you are busy, then busyness is the meditation. If you are rushing . . . then you should be mindful of rushing.” I noticed how much more relaxed I was each time I remembered to be mindful and patient during our move.
- Formal Meditation. As Rinpoche says, even five minutes a day can be beneficial! Do it first thing in the morning as you wait for your coffee to brew. Instead of checking social media, follow your breath and relax your mind.
- One Thing. With so much to accomplish and decisions to be made, relax about when the to-do list will get done. Prioritize the one thing that MUST be done today, and repeat the process tomorrow. Trying to get everything done at once is like driving fast in fog. Decisions will be poor, and mistakes will happen.
- Go Kind. Be gentle with yourself and each other. Recognize the stress, and actively try to bring kindness to the situation.