This showed up in my mailbox this morning. It’s exactly what I’ve been trying to do with my life for the past few years. I tend to not think about all aspects of something before acting. I would deny the feelings I was having without letting them sink in and accepting them for what they were. I don’t pretend to have been this far along the Middle Way, but when I see things like this, I at least feel like I’m going in the right direction.
When you’re like a keg of dynamite just about to go off, patience means just slowing down at that point—just pausing—instead of immediately acting on your usual, habitual response. You refrain from acting, you stop talking to yourself, and then you connect with the soft spot. But at the same time you are completely and totally honest with yourself about what you are feeling. You’re not suppressing anything; patience has nothing to do with suppression. In fact, it has everything to do with a gentle, honest relationship with yourself. If you wait and don’t fuel the rage with your thoughts, you can be very honest about the fact that you long for revenge; nevertheless you keep interrupting the torturous story line and stay with the underlying vulnerability. That frustration, that uneasiness and vulnerability, is nothing solid. And yet it is painful to experience. Still, just wait and be patient with your anguish and with the discomfort of it. This means relaxing with that restless, hot energy—knowing that it’s the only way to find peace for ourselves or the world.
Excerpt from Practicing Peace in Times of War by Pema Chödrön