Monday, March 5, 2012

Hello Patience, Meet Compassion

While working on my new website, Yoga With Patience,  I spent a lot of time thinking about what I wanted to call it.  I knew I wanted to use patience in the title as it is more than a virtue or my name, but also a great reminder for our yoga practice.

However there was a voice inside my head that said patience just isn't very exotic or exciting...maybe patience in Sanskrit would be better.

As it turns out there isn't a word for patience in Sanskrit, there is like a million!  Okay, I'm exaggerating, but there are several words that could be loosely translated into our simple word patience, one being Ksanti(pronounced kshanti). 

The English language describes patience as the capacity to tolerate sufferings without getting angry or upset.  Ksanti similarly suggests that patience involves an act of forbearance towards unpleasant behaviors or situations.  However, ksanti also implies that it is not an act of obligation, but a conscious choice to give patience as a gift.

How I would define ksanti, and how I interpret it is- Patience rooted in compassion towards yourself and others.

Sean Rogders shared in his article Patient Yoga how the practice of ksanti, and lack there of, impacted his asana practice saying:
"I felt stiff, and my lower back was complaining bitterly.  Instead of easing off...[I] began to push instead of allowing my Yoga to flow.  The next day, same result – again I was stiff and my lower back ached...In essence, my blind lack of patience and failure to see the larger picture was dissolving the conditions I had worked so hard to create to facilitate my Yoga"
For me, this example clarified the essence of ksanti, and clearly illustrated how self-compassion sparked the realization that acting with patience was not an act of tolerating pain, but rather a remedy for it.

Practicing ksanti off the mat, allows us to practice compassionate patience in a more global sense that benefits those around us.

Have you ever taken your feeling of anger or sadness on someone who doesn't deserve it?

Probably, and it's likely that you have also been on the receiving end of misdirected emotions.  Now, what if your friend, coworker, spouse, etc. treated your attitude with patience?  What if they went a step further, and compassionately put a hand on your should, and asked you what was bothering you?  Think of how that would make you feel.  

Unlike patience, Ksanti, is not just a begrudging act of tolerance, but a call to communicate, and to connect.  It provides an opportunity to hear subtle messages that often go unheard, that allow you to act with understanding and patience. 

Where do you think you can apply the ksanti to your yoga practice, or daily life?  How would that serve you, your relationships, or even the world at large?


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