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Dr. Cara Barker Headshot

The Power and Beauty of Patience

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With plenty of time to spare, you signal left to the guy behind you so he might let you merge. Instead, he speeds up, cuts you off, as do the next three cars behind his red BMW convertible. Good thing your windows are closed. He might not be so very pleased with the explosion of not-so-nice words that spewing from your mouth. "What was he thinking?" you mutter aloud. Ever been there?

Surprises like this can come at unfortunate times. Let's say that you, like me, committed three weeks earlier to a six-week kindness practice. We might resolve to respond to whatever arises with loving kindness, exploring what might be discovered. Enter life, in the raw and sweaty, and the test gets real darn fast. Getting distracted from good intention can be tricky and takes a bit of doing in the reframing department. It took a few moments for me to cool off and recognize that drivers in a rush are coming from fear. Once I saw that they are afraid of lack, it became easier for me to forgive and bless, and return to kindness. The creation of what is best takes patience, forgiveness and gratitude.

The struggle is worth the price, however, if we want to experience more wonder and awe. You do, don't you? If so, this means intervention. Cultivating patience means developing a practice of unplugging from the noise of monkey mind, who jumps into rage at a moment's notice when focused on the time it will take to get from where we are to where we think we need to be. The truth is that where we are, right now, is precisely where we need to be because here is where we are! May sound crazy, I know.

How is it that we are so impatient with ourselves, and others, while speeding through the "what is"? Our agenda gets in the way. How easy to fall into the trap of thinking that others should behave the way we think they should. How easy to fall into wagging our index finger at the one in the mirror for failing to behave in accord with the game plan!

In contrast, consider the child. A 3-year-old takes their own sweet time. For him, for her, life is a classroom of discovery, a frontier to explore. What are you willing to recall? Ever lie on a grassy knoll on a mid-June day, and be astounded by clouds shifting shapes? Within little one's world, awe and wonder are constant companions, until, that is, the Big People begin to push and prod the child to hurry. Before you know it, the thread to aliveness gets frayed, and the young, ensnared in the race called "beat the clock," starts to trip into rabbit holes of self-doubt. Smiles get replaced with looks of confusion, anger, and hurt. Untangling the mess can take years and devotion to "clean house" from those bully inner voices still pushing us around. This "mitote" (see "Notes from the Creative Underground" in Archives) is what leads us to not only cut off the person ahead of us, but cut us off from that Source of life that renews, regenerates and heals our hurts.

The medicine is simple, but not easy. Many doses are required, over time. Doing so may "tax you to the max." In fact, even witnessing another human being willing to "take on the cure" might push all your monkey mind's buttons about how we should behave, and why we are here. The power of patiently practicing its use may well turn out to transform what you believe is possible.

Miyoko Shida Rigolo demonstrates the power of practicing patience in a breathtaking way. I am indebted to Jose Antonio Hurtado Alcazar for the following. As you watch Miyoko-san, reveal her gift, witness yourself. What happens in your mind? How does your body respond? What shifts? I would love to know in your response this week. Without further adieu:

Notice, please, that Miyoko could not have created this act of beauty by looking outside herself. Her focus is internal. Absorbed in inner space, she locates balance and strength and draws from it to bring forward the remarkable. I am reminded of the words of Rollo May some years ago, when he said: "Our task ... is to strengthen our consciousness of ourselves, to find centers of strength within ourselves which will enable us to stand despite the confusion and bewilderment around us." Since he uttered them in 1953, the world has grown far more anxious. Finding our center becomes imperative if we wish to create a collaborative world in which radical compassion, peace and beauty may flourish from the soil of our intention.

Miyoko creates from what futurists have called "adjacent reality." Symbolically speaking, the white feather has rich meaning. Simply stated, is embodies the creative spirit, some call the Holy Spirit, alive in all forms of life, leading the way for those who, despite a deafening world of doubt, operate from quietude. John Cleese, the British actor, once said: "Creativity is not about talent. It is rather a way of operating in the world." What I know for certain, and was reminded of during my sabbatical, is that when we surrender to operating without the tic-tic-tic of the outer clock, something amazing comes forward that illuminates our footsteps and touches the heart.

We get to choose: the way of the clock, or the Way of the heart. It is a continuous choice. Sometimes we are more victorious than others. Either way, it is OK. There is no failure, no report card in this classroom. As for me, in my house, I am discovering more and more that I have zero idea about what will happen next. While I believed I would be writing last week, the apple was not yet ripe. What I do suspect, these days, however, is that what arose in those recent weeks has changed pretty much everything when it comes to my watch and calendar. We are stopped in our tracks at the precise moment that we might benefit most. Ours is to choose how to respond, what price we wish to pay, how we wish to spend our time on this good earth.

Says Hafiz, is his poem entitled "Manic Screaming":

We should make all spiritual talk
Simple today:

God is trying to sell you something,
But you don't want to buy.

That is what your suffering is:
Your fantastic haggling,

Your manic screaming over the price!"

Here's to a world with less haggling! Many thanks for your patience with this process underway, your beauty, and passing this along to others.

Be the Love,

For more information, see my Archives on HuffPost and/or

For more by Dr. Cara Barker, click here.

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