Reporting back on my first week of grad school (in Yoga Studies): I learned a lot last week. In fact, I think I mentioned a few too many times that I’ve felt like my head might explode, in the most wonderful way possible. But the most challenging aspect of my week wasn’t the classes or my new assistantship, or even balancing my personal life. (I’ve got the logged hours and post-picnic hangover to prove it.) No, my biggest challenge by far has been: keeping my patience.
Patience. It seems like an obvious concept, but it can have different meanings in different contexts; and this past week, it’s taken on a few. There was my most recent frustration, when I couldn’t find the recycling bin in my friend’s building (…anywhere!) so I finally threw the bag of bottles down the trash shoot. (I’m still so sorry about that.) But patience could also refer to being polite with the operator after waiting “on hold” for fifteen minutes; listening to a friend’s story all the way through without interrupting; or letting your dog enjoy the outdoors instead of rushing her to hurry and “do her business” (guilty, guilty, guilty). Everyone has those moments of falling off the wagon and not making the best decision they could have, or should have made. Even yogis get mean. And for me, yesterday was one of those days.
One of those days where it’s not one thing in particular that seems “wrong,” it’s everything. Nothing sits well, nothing feels right, and no matter what you do or try to do, it’s wrong, stupid or counterproductive. But, lucky for me, an important part of a consistent yoga practice is being aware and observing your own thoughts. And eventually I realized that everything felt so wrong, because I was wrong. I was setting the bar impossibly high for myself during my first week of grad school and the busiest weekend of the semester (eight hour lectures Saturday & Sunday). But yesterday, I wanted to go to the Labor Day picnic. I wanted to spend time with my boyfriend, read 100 pages for class, write a two page summary, practice three hours of Sanskrit, go grocery shopping, meditate in the morning and do my usual asana practice. Totally feasible, I swear. Really.
And I did (most of) it. By all outside accounts, it was a great, very productive, really fun day. And in many ways, it was. (I even got a bit of a tan!) But I still ended the evening feeling frustrated – and inevitably, exhausted. Even after succeeding in checking off my “To Do” list, the list just got longer. And in my haste to “get it all done,” I hadn’t allowed myself to relax and be present and missed out on quality time with the people I love when I finally had the time to spare. My lack of empathy and patience with myself directly impacted the quality of my experience and my interactions with others. But rather than continue to beat myself up about it – as I may have done in the past – I’m instating some patience, pronto. I remind myself: You’re human, and you have a lot on your plate. You have to go easy on yourself. With any new transition, there’s an adjustment period. You need to give yourself time to adjust.
Before I recently found myself in a constant state of transition, I found a constant state of kindness, having trained myself to think this way – with sincerity and patience – more regularly. Unfortunately, life happens, and enduring transition can make maintaining any type of consistency difficult. But today is the start to my second week of grad school, and I am deliberately (and publicly) setting the intention to always defer to kindness. Not only because it will make my week that much better (and trust me, it will) but because I know that, with practice, I can regain that steady peace of mind and live again in kindness – on the regular.
I encourage you to set an intention this week. For patience, for kindness, or for whatever you need most, because we are all, always in transition. And if we want to succeed and get the most out of life (and I hope we all do!), then we’ve got to be kind to ourselves, and to others. May as well start today.
Namaste (I honor the truth – and kindness – in you),
P.S. I haven’t forgotten the recipe(s). Stay tuned!