“Rain, rain, go away, come again another day.”- James Orchard Halliwell
The rain gets a bad reputation. We all blame the rain for ruining our day at times. Movies foreshadow sadness by setting the scene in the rain. Many songs use the metaphor of rain to evoke melancholy and gloom. Imagine if we were to re-frame our concept of rain by focusing on the positive aspects of surviving the rainstorm. Rain cleanses and purifies. It nurtures the earth and brings us flowers. Simple but true: if we are patient during the difficult times (the rainstorms), we receive the reward (the flowers).
Imagine it is a lovely April day, the sun is shining and everyone around you is feeling radiant! Then all of a sudden, out of nowhere, dark clouds roll across the sky and a loud clap of thunder crashes. You step onto your yoga mat, and looking out the window, you see it is pouring down rain. Going from sunny to rainy is par for the course in the springtime, but it can be a mood breaker for many. When the springtime rain falls, there is an opportunity to teach a great lesson linking the rain to cultivating a more patient state of mind.
Begin by asking your friends, family or little yogis this question: Where do May flowers come from? Give them a moment to ponder. After you entertain a few answers to the question, if they have not guessed it yet, tell them, “May flowers come from April showers.” This old adage, “April flowers bring May Flowers” has a kernel of truth when it comes to Mother Nature, but more so in the context of teaching patience to our loved ones and yoga students. No one receives the flowers without the rain, because the rain is required for the flowers to grow. If we only had sun, we would end up with a desert instead of a beautiful garden. Life’s challenges, the rain, shape us in important ways. We must let the rain do its job and serve its purpose. We should learn to cultivate resilience and patience in the springtime, and all other times, by believing that the sunshine, the seeds of our good intentions and the rain, will eventually coalesce and bloom into flowers.
We can also teach how to be patient during the showers or storms of life. Many of us can relate to the delicate balance between patience and anger/frustration. Losing our patience on a daily basis is not a result of our degraded character or lack of morality, but a reflection of the many demands of modern life. We are often impatient because we are bombarded with requests or “To Do Lists” and simply feel overwhelmed. Most adults work in some capacity, be it in the home or outside of the home. Children also experience states that are similar to ones that adults experience as they learn to follow routines and exist in their communities and at schools, in recreational activities, sports, etc. Thus, work life balance takes a toll on all of us, even children, caregivers, partners, friends, families and at the individual level. Are there simple ways to become more patient with all the commotion and stressors in life?
One source recommends the first step is for us to slow down and attune ourselves to the spiritual aspects of our identity during the day. For example, we can begin by taking our work or other obligations step-by-step or item by item, instead of multitasking. Just think of how ridiculous it would be to attempt two yoga postures at the same time! As a yogi, we cannot achieve two poses such as Downward Dog and Mountain simultaneously. One should not expect multitasking to be effective in their life either. In addition, taking time and breaks during the day is important. While children often have recreational time at school, adults are sometimes eating and working at the same time, not taking time to practice mindfulness. Playing and being mindful are important to making sure we do not build up stress during the day that will make us lose our patience later.
Last but not least, remember that patience, like any virtuous quality, only comes when we practice it with consistent effort. Consistent effort is not easy, which is why it is difficult to achieve results for many. The concept of being patient with ourselves for our yoga practice is a parallel concept. Sri Swami Satchidananda’s translation of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras is helpful in conceptualizing the idea of the reward of “practice over time.” 1:14 is: “Practice becomes firmly grounded when well attended to for a long time, without break and in all earnestness.”
We know that strength in Hatha and Raja yoga will improve with regular practice. Our yoga practice also improves our ability to cope with the rainstorms we face off the yoga mat. Rainy days will give way to sunny days and flowers. The abundance of rain in early spring during the month of April is a powerful metaphor for how we provide a yogic approach to patience in our teaching and learning. Be patient during the rain and then receive the flowers, the rewards of your practice.
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