Sometimes life throws us a curveball that disrupts our established patterns and forces us out of our comfort zone. Change will do that; in fact, it is one of the hallmarks of genuine change that it is accompanied by feelings of uneasiness and discomposure.
It is in these challenging times that the guidance of the wise is especially valuable. By definition the wise are insightful, knowledgeable and clued into the realities of the situation. That’s why we call them wise. And that is why it is intelligent to turn to them for answers.
One piece of advice that the wise offer is to be patient in times of difficulty. Patience is a powerful virtue. The ordinary meaning of patience is the ability to wait upon events without judgment, criticism, or requirement that the universe serve up a different reality to us. This requires an inner steadiness, an ability to find rest, satisfaction and fullness within ourselves.
The Sanskrit word is Kshamā (क्षमा), which means patience and forbearance.
This beautiful word – Kshamā – is full of deep, practical wisdom. Its root form carries the sense of remaining calm and composed and allowing events to take place and not resisting the reality of the moment. It also means having the strength to bear any burden.
How can we acquire the beauty and power of Kshamā for ourselves?
One way is to change our story about the events that come our way, from judgment and complaint, to gratitude and acceptance. We start by realising that the universe is a great giver of gifts, and that anything presented to us is for our benefit.
Acceptance is not a passive inert condition. Rather it allows us to see our situation clearly, and to apply intelligence and reason. This frees us to respond to whatever life throws at us in a full-hearted, effective and fruitful way.
Gratitude and acceptance can be cultivated and practised.
Sometimes, if a situation is especially challenging, cultivating the feeling of gratitude requires effort. A good start is to ask yourself questions such as: what can I learn from this situation? What is here that will make me stronger, that will help me grow? What inner resources do I possess? What courage, what strength, what intelligence do I have that will help me meet this face on?
Questions such as these can give us space and strength and, yes, patience and fortitude, to meet life and turn whatever it serves up into a positive.
We can meet the challenges life throws at us – the fear, insecurity, distress, and grief – head on, by cultivating Kshamā. We can feed positive feelings of gratitude, patience, and peace. This will free us from some of our burdens, leaving us ready and willing to give our love, our compassion, and our support to the many friends, family and even strangers who are in need of some strength and comfort.