Impatience and the Practice of Yoga

Impatience is endemic to modern day society. We expect everything immediately. If it does not come, we exhibit frustration, annoyance, anger and a disturbed energy which impacts the body, the life-energy, the nervous envelope and the mental state. Impatience, therefore, creates an energetic state that is diametrically opposed to that required for yogic development.

Impatience is rooted in the ego-personality and its desires. The action of the desire-soul in the vital is one of the main impediments to progress in yoga, and a focus on immediate results, with a rise of impatience that accompanies this focus, actually retards the yogic process.

Swami Vivekananda in his lectures on Raja Yoga, describes the chitta, or mind-stuff and its disturbances. The practices of Raja Yoga work to bring the mind-stuff to a state of tranquility, whereby it can reflect the higher divine reality without distortion. He also points out the intimate connection between the breath and the status of the nervous sheath and the mind-stuff, and he recommends the practice of pranayama as a means to achieve the needed state of tranquility. These practices may provide an aid to gaining control over the force of impatience, but the true underlying necessity is for the seeker to begin to observe the reactions within the being to the circumstances of life and reorient the way he responds. This involves a complete change in levels of expectation, concerns for the fulfillment of vital desires, the attempt to achieve results in the outer world in the form of ambition, power, wealth or status of any sort. Each of these things act upon the psychology to develop impatience in its various forms. None of these realisations or the steps to actually put them into practice occurs overnight. It is a process over the course of time as the seeker gains successive understanding of the subtlety of his mind, his emotions, his vital-nervous reactions and even his bodily needs and tendencies.

Sri Aurobindo writes: “Impatience is always a mistake, it does not help but hinders. A quiet happy faith and confidence is the best foundation for sadhana; for the rest a constant opening wide of oneself to receive with an aspiration which may be intense, but must always be calm and steady. Full yogic realisation does not come all at once, it comes after a long preparation of the Adhar which may take a long time.”

“The power needed in yoga is the power to go through effort, difficulty or trouble without getting fatigued, depressed, discouraged or impatient and without breaking off the effort or giving up one’s aim or resolution.”

“Whatever method is used, persistence and perseverance are essential. For whatever method is used, the complexity of the natural resistance will be there to combat it.”

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, Growing Within: The Psychology of Inner Development, Chapter III Growth of Consciousness Basic Requisites, pp. 57-58


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