I’ve been reading what Pema Chödrön has to say about patience. Lately, I’ve been struggling with physical pain and a dark mood. I want them both to go away right now. How quickly I move from discomfort to aggression!

What if, instead, I bring curiosity to my discomfort? Then, instead of slashing with a sharp edge, I am making space and opening out.

What, exactly, are the sensations that I’m labeling as pain? That buzzing in my feet, the out-of-control panic I feel when my leg starts to spasm. Make room for them instead of pushing them away. This tangle of “bad mood” that’s been dragging on me lately – what’s up with that? When I open to it, I find sadness that I am not healthy and able. I find hurt then I am not the productive go-getter I value. I want to let go of those things.

“What’s at stake is it your whole sense of who you are, your whole identity,” says Pema Chödrön. “It takes a lot of patience not to beat yourself up for being a failure at letting go. But if you apply patience to the fact that you can’t let go, somehow that helps you do it. Patience with the fact that you can’t let go helps you get to the point of letting go gradually – at a very sane and loving speed, at the speed that your basic wisdom allows you to move.”

The tricky bit is that I am not trying to resolve anything. My outward circumstances and inner landscape may not change. Practicing patience, I become a gentle companion to my pain, my moods, my life. This is courage.