The Power of Waiting

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"Patience is not about waiting, but the ability to keep a good attitude while waiting."


Raise your hand, if you like waiting. Is your hand raised? We don’t like to wait! As I searched on the Internet for quotes on waiting, it was far easier to find quotes about “seizing the day” and making something happen, versus waiting. We are a society that doesn’t like to wait.

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I, for one, have been an impatient person for much of my life. I wanted things to happen to me on my time table. I had a clear agenda in my twenties: finish college, start my career, get married, and start a family. So, I declared a major in college and got to work at knocking off my goals. I really didn’t know much about waiting. At the time, I thought waiting was something you did if you didn’t have courage or motivation. I thought it was just an excuse not to take action. I know better now.

What I’ve learned since then is that there is power in waiting and that waiting gives us access to creating the life we want.

The ego, or mind, is very uncomfortable with waiting. This is the part of you that shouts, “Do something! Take action! Anything is better than nothing at all!” And, because we are a very ego-driven society, you’ll find plenty of external voices that back this internal shouting up.

The mind does not like uncertainty and would rather do anything than simply live in a state of “not knowing” while the right course unfolds.

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If we can slow down instead, the path gradually becomes clearer. The ego wants a brightly lit path to the future, but real life is more like a maze. We take one or two steps in a certain direction, and then life’s twists and turns happen and we face another turning point. Making our way through the maze requires an entirely different set of skills, and waiting is one of the most important!

There’s a proper timing to all things, and it’s often not the timing we want (which is now or maybe even yesterday). The key in waiting is waiting for that deep sense of inner knowing.

That doesn’t mean you’re certain that everything will turn out exactly as you want it, or that you don’t feel fear. It means there is a sense of “yes, now’s the time” in your body and soul. We have and can cultivate that inner sensitiveness that tells us what to do when the time is right. But, in order to do that we have to detach from the mind. Don’t get me wrong – thinking is useful, but only up to a point, and we usually take it far beyond the point of it being useful.

Like a broken record, we go over and over various options, trying to predict the future based solely on our hopes and fears.

We talk endlessly with others about what we should do, hoping that they have the answers for us (when the answer all along is within us).

We think about what we “should” do, based on any number of external measures: common sense, morality, religion, family values, finances, etc..

And then usually we add this all up and just take our best shot.

A better way is to take inventory of what you know (and, more importantly, what you don’t know) and then…wait.

Wait actively rather than passively. Meaning – be mindful of your inner senses tuned into intuitions. Expect that an answer will come. For instance, if your intuition is pulling you in a certain direction and your mind is screaming at you to “Don’t do it!” by all means ignore your mind.

There’s a real difference between the feeling of fear (which holds you back from doing something your heart desires to do) and misgivings (which warns you that a decision that looks good on the surface is not right for you).

In both instances, look for and trust that deep sense of inner knowing, even if your thoughts are telling you different. Go with your instincts, instead of your thoughts. Wait and give it time. If you have to talk yourself into something, is that really serving to you? Wait, instead. The path will be revealed.

Ignore that voice in your head that says you need to make a decision and have what you want now. Don’t rush through life. Wait and see what becomes clear as you sit with uncertainty. Learn to trust your gut instincts more than your head. Have faith that the right path will unfold at the perfect time. And then, when the time comes, go for it!

It’s like being on your mat and moving into a variation or expression of the pose, straight from your heart. In that moment, you’re not attached to the thoughts in your head, but are instead committed to your heart. It’s from our intuition that we can trust and know that even in the space of waiting, we’ll be okay. In downward facing dog for instance, we set our gaze to one physical point between our two feet. We practice being right there in that moment, with our breath and gaze fixed to one point. We learn here to be present and wait until the next step is directed. We can take this with us off the mat too, as we ease into waiting and trust and have faith, every step of the way.

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