The Conscious Classroom

Developing Patience

April 28, 2020 Amy Edelstein Season 1 Episode 7
The Conscious Classroom
Developing Patience
The Conscious Classroom
Developing Patience
Apr 28, 2020 Season 1 Episode 7
Amy Edelstein

Patience is a virtue. In our era of ever-increasing speed and ever-decreasing attention span, cultivating this virtue may be harder than ever. And yet we must. We must both cultivate our own patience and that of our students. In this Conscious Classroom episode we will work with mindful awareness tools to develop patience. Amy Edelstein will shed light on how and why doing something as simple as watching the breath, becoming aware of thoughts, and noticing sensations can improve our tolerance and our care.

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Show Notes Transcript

Patience is a virtue. In our era of ever-increasing speed and ever-decreasing attention span, cultivating this virtue may be harder than ever. And yet we must. We must both cultivate our own patience and that of our students. In this Conscious Classroom episode we will work with mindful awareness tools to develop patience. Amy Edelstein will shed light on how and why doing something as simple as watching the breath, becoming aware of thoughts, and noticing sensations can improve our tolerance and our care.

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Developing Patience

 with Amy Edelstein

[00:00:10] Welcome to the Conscious Classroom podcast, where we're exploring tools and perspectives that support educators and anyone who works with teens to create more conscious, supportive and enriching learning. I'm your host, Amy Edelstein, and I'll be sharing transformative insights and easy to influence classroom supports that are all drawn from mindful awareness systems. The themes we'll discuss are designed to improve your own joy and fulfillment in your work and increase your impact on the world we share. Let's get on with this next episode. 


[00:00:58] Hello, welcome to the Conscious Classroom. My name is Amy Edelstein. In this webinar, I want to talk about developing patience. Patience, they like to say, is a virtue. And usually when we think about patience, we think about it in terms of scarcity. 


[00:01:18] We think about running out of patience as if patience were a commodity that we had a certain quantity of. And we could run out of it and experience shortages like gas shortages or oil shortages, which conjure up images of long lines and frustration. But patience isn't a commodity. And it is something we can cultivate. And that's why thinking about it is a virtue is a helpful way to approach patience. Patience isn't something that we have or we don't have. It's a basic human quality, a capacity that we can cultivate. It's a noble human quality. It's one that is ennobling to us when we practice patience. And it's also ennobling to everyone around us when they experience patience. 


[00:02:10] The reason I wanted to talk about patience is that as a virtue, it's highly misunderstood. Generally, when we think about needing to have more patience, we reflect on needing to have more patience from a very frustrated perspective. So the idea of patience starts to feel like a grin and bear it or a grit your teeth and bear it kind of feeling. Or it feels like those of us who are patient are being asked to allow ourselves to bear that which is unacceptable, to lie down like a doormat and let everyone else walk over us while they realize their goals and were left behind. A little muddied, a little trodden upon outside the door. Patience is also not a strategy that we employ to get what we want. Patience is not a zero sum game, which means I will give patience in order to get what I want. So I give and I get. And the result is zero rather than a non zero sum game where practicing patience is its own reward. Plus allows other positive results to come into being. Patience is also not a thread that we use over the students around us. I will be patient until whatever qualification you put on that and then X, Y and Z. Basically the punishment or the consequence begins that links patience to punishment. We want to separate those two. 


[00:03:58] Patience really is a skill. It's a social, emotional skill, and we can cultivate that skill with our mindfulness practice. We can use our mindfulness practice to work on diligence, awareness, conviction and our own aspiration to transform ourselves, to become better expressions of our ideals, better expressions of those human qualities we think of as virtue. And in this webinar, we're going to work with a couple of mindfulness exercises to cultivate our own patience and to think about how we can cultivate our students patience in the classroom. The way we cultivate patience through mindful awareness practice is by intention. 


[00:04:51] We do develop patience as a kind of residual effect of diligent and committed and repetitive practice of our mindfulness exercises, the consistency does develop patience by default. But if we consciously and intentionally work with our practice to develop patience, we're gonna see much quicker results and we're going to have a more meaningful relationship with the virtue of patience. What it really is, it's not really what we think it is. And we can start to experience the depth and humanity, the self care that comes from that quality of patience, especially the self care that comes from that. Because when we're truly patient, deeply patient, it's a very loving relationship towards ourselves with respect to our environment. Our environment is often something that is difficult, sometimes hostile, sometimes challenging to our emotional or even physiological health. Cultivating patience enables us to be gentle with ourselves in relationship to an environment that can be harsh. And being gentle to ourselves is really that probably single quality that we want to cultivate as educators. Because when we're gentle with ourselves, when we practice in our forms of self care, as our resting place is, is the way we are, as what we're bringing into our classroom, what we're bringing to our families, what we're bringing to our circle of friends and colleagues, that creates a positive climate around us then and enables learning and intimacy to grow and flourish. When we sit down to practice mindful awareness, whether it's a body scan where we systematically focus on sensations in the body in an orderly way, going from head to foot or foot to head, or whether we focus on a breath meditation where we're looking at the inhalation and the exhalation. Choosing one set place to rest our attention either on the tip of our nose or the rise and fall of our chest, or the ballooning in and out of our abdomens where we consciously rest. Our attention in the mindfulness practice is often more important to us than the way that we're resting our attention. 


[00:07:30] Let me unpack that a little bit. 


[00:07:32] So for focusing on the breath, we're very aware and my paying attention to the inhalation and the exhalation. I forgot I'm not no longer focused on the breath. Let me bring my attention back to the breath or we're focusing on sensation in the body. We're very aware of different sensations, the quality, the way they come and go, the way they move, or if we're focused on open awareness. We're very aware of when our attention shifts back to thought, feeling sound experience, the objects that arise in consciousness. And we shift our attention back to notice the field of awareness or the backdrop of consciousness. So we're very attuned to the what our attention is glued to. 


[00:08:22] When were practicing in order to cultivate patience. It really does shift our attention away from the particular experience or the location of that experience. It really doesn't matter what arises or passes away in our meditation session. It really doesn't matter what sensations we notice or don't notice. Doesn't really matter whether we have the most blissful absorption or the most disruptive agitation when we sit down with the goal of cultivating developing patience. We have one intention, which is to be still be aware and allow whatever comes and goes to come and go. Accepting our own reactions and responses, making room for the reactions and responses without moving in the face of them. So our attention is on the qualities of self that we're cultivating rather than this specific experience that we're putting our attention on. So when we want to focus and develop patience through our mindfulness practice. We're really allowing things to be as they are. We're allowing ourselves to be like the mountain, which doesn't move under all the different weather. It doesn't move under the spring flowers. It doesn't move under the winter snow storms. It doesn't move with the autumn rains. It doesn't move with the summer heat. The mountain just simply stays and things come and go across its surface in the atmosphere and it just rests, not fighting or struggling against anything that arises and passes away, cultivating, developing that quality of patience that doesn't move towards or away from experience. That is observant and aware and non-reactive. That is taking everything in. Without judgment, discerning the good from the bad, the wholesome, from the unwholesome. But discerning it all is how we work with our meditation practice to develop patience. 


[00:11:02] It's a very subtle but profound shift to work on the qualities that we're cultivating and let ourselves be disinterested in the content of what we're observing. We're so used to being entertained, being entertained by our experience, being entertained by our internal narrative and response to our experience. We're just so used to reacting to the content of our experience all the time that when we sit in meditation, we still assume that posture in relationship to our experience. We're still judging our experience. We're still reacting. We're still manipulating our response to it. We're still qualifying and measuring ourselves in relationship to what we're experiencing. But when we want to cultivate patience, we know that we're trying to be like that mountain that's disinterested in the changing weather that crosses its surface. And we become focused on that and we become captivated by that. So wresting the attention on the breath, resting the attention on sensation, arresting the intention on the backdrop of awareness becomes much easier. So let's try it now. 


[00:12:30] In this mindfulness practice. Set your intention on developing patience. And let's choose the practice of mindful breathing. Choose a place to rest your attention, either on the air going in and out at the tip of your nose or the rise and fall of your chest or the ballooning in and out of your abdomen. 


[00:12:57] Choose just one place. And when you've chosen that place resist the temptation to switch when you get bored or distracted. 


[00:13:12] Now rests your attention on the inhalation and the exhalation. Letting your breath be natural. As slow and as shallow as it may naturally be. As he rests her attention on the breath. Remember that your goal is to develop patience. To be still in the body and mind. Observing the breath going in, in the breath, going out. Without wanting anything to happen. 


[00:13:57] And let yourself simply be focused. 


[00:14:02] And let the meditation go deep. We'll go for a full minute. But, of course, you can sit longer. Remember that you're cultivating patience. Whatever the experience is, doesn't really matter. We're allowing ourselves to be still and observe. 


[00:14:46] Without judgment, without movement. 


[00:15:05] Notice the rocklike quality. 


[00:15:15] Notice the straightness of your spine. 


[00:15:22] And notice the firmness of your resolve. 


[00:15:43] And now begin to bring your attention back. And when you hear the bell, we can finish. As you bring your attention back from this contemplation. Notice if you feel a sense of groundedness, of being anchored, of inner stability. Simply putting our attention on the desire to develop patience can create a sense of inner strength, stability and nobility of character. Notice any shifts in your experience and over the next couple of weeks, even until the next conscious classroom webinar next month put your attention on cultivating developing this quality of patience. Each time you sit down to practice any kind of contemplative exercise. Hold the intention to develop your own patience. And as you hold the attention to develop patience. Remember developing this kind of patience is not at the expense of your own well-being. It is not patience to endure what should be changed. It is patience to observe, to discern and discriminate its patience with our own shortcomings, giving ourselves room to grow and develop and transform and giving ourselves space to appreciate and be grateful for our own ability to develop, our own ability to cultivate virtues, that gives us an inner nobility and dignity that enables us to have clear boundaries in the classroom to discipline with kindness. To know when to set limits with our students, to know when to demand more. 


[00:18:16] Patience is an essential virtue of any classroom teacher. And it's also one, as I mentioned at the beginning, that's a difficult one in our culture of immediate gratification. Appreciate how cultivating developing patience you are going against the cultural flow of instant gratification, and through that you're developing more wisdom and understanding so that your actions will really make a difference. When you're working with students, it's often easier with them to begin by defining impatience. Having them demonstrate what impatience is to act it out. To display the movements and behaviors that express impatience. To get them to objectify what that impatience looks like in them. And then what it feels like to be on the receiving end of impatience. Getting them to articulate and externalize what are the feelings when you're with a friend who's impatient? What happens when the crossing guard is impatient with you or the bus drivers impatient with you when you're trying to get on the bus or across the street and you're dropping your book bag or a friend calls to you and you get confused? What do those expressions of impatience do to you? How do they feel? What's your reaction? 


[00:19:56] Then turn the same focus as we've been doing for ourselves on to developing patience and how when you develop patience, you actually have more care for yourself. And you're more able to not take on the impatience of others around you. Get the students to identify what patience looks like. At first, they're going to find it hard because they're going to think that it's just sitting and saying nothing or waiting. Talk about the difference between waiting and patience. Waiting is usually accompanied by an irritation in a wanting things to be done and over. Patience is letting everything be as it is from a very deep place. Letting everything be as it is. So then we can discern what is good and bad, what we want to respond to or not respond to. 


[00:20:59] So when you've helped them with cues to start articulating, demonstrating what patience looks like. How it can be a tone of voice, how it can be a question, how it can be an understanding, how it can be help. How it could be kindness. All the different expressions of patience. Then have the students do a contemplation or a meditation with the intention to develop patience. So you can have them form the intention to develop patience. And then have them sit silently. And be still and say that you're going to make some different noises and they're going to hear those noises. And the goal is simply to be patient as they hear the noise and the noise passes away. Some of the noises you can do are tapping your desk with a pencil. Shuffling papers, closing a book. Turning on an electronic device. Writing on the chalkboard, small sounds or bigger sounds and in your cues, keep reminding them that the sounds will come and go. The sounds will distract and then fade away, and they are sitting still like a mountain. Patient. During everything that arises and passes away. 


[00:22:38] You can work with patience this entire month. In your moment of mindfulness and your minute of mindfulness at the beginning of the class or the end of the class, remind the students about developing and setting the intention to develop patience. This will be incredibly empowering to them, especially for those students who have been told that they have attention deficit disorder or they are impulsive or they don't listen or they don't sit still. When they feel like they can develop patience and stillness, if they work at it and they start to feel more comfortable being still, they start to feel more comfortable exercising that muscle of intention. You'll give them a lot of confidence to overcome some of the negative self-image as they may have developed along the way. I encourage you to practice this entire month. Feel free to write to me through the Web site and Inner Strength And I look forward to sharing more conscious classroom tools with you and to deepening our exploration. 


[00:24:12] Thank you for listening to the conscious classroom with me, your host Amy Edelstein. For more information and links. Check out the show Notes on Inner Strength Foundation dot net. And if you enjoy the podcast, leave us a review or subscribe so you don't miss a single episode. See you next time.