Be patient either way is about accepting reality as it is and being patient no matter what happens in your life. The original lojong slogan is: Whichever of the two occurs, be patient, so whether things go well or badly, you should accept them as they are and be patient. When things go wrong it isn’t because you’ve made a mistake – it’s just life changing. Everything changes so your circumstances will change too.
When you see that you can’t control everything, it makes you more humble. You begin to see how much it hurts both you and others to hold on to the things you can’t control, and slowly you learn to let go. You allow things to be as they are and let life unfold in its own way and in its own time. No grasping at the things you desire or running away from the things you fear.
Being patient means staying centred and focused on your intention to be free and awake. You can only do that in the present moment. So what this slogan is really saying is that you need to practice mind training and meditation all the time, no matter what is happening in your life.
Apply this slogan to your writing practice by remembering that change is no excuse to avoid writing. You can’t use the excuse that your life is just too crazy for you to write. Life is always crazy, one way or another. You’re going to have to write anyway.
Equally, when life is going well and you’re happily writing every day, don’t assume this idyllic situation will last forever. Plan for upsets and be organised. Don’t take the circumstances of your life for granted. The best way to do this is to write regardless of what’s happening. Good, bad, or indifferent, you must write.
However, the process of writing can’t be forced. You can’t rush ahead and get to the end before you’ve written the rest of the story – even if you know how it ends. You need to trust the process and allow the writing to unfold in its own time.
And when the writing isn’t working as you hoped, be patient with yourself. Sometimes you’re simply having a bad day and tomorrow will be better – or at least different. You can be certain the situation will change because it always does. The only way to improve bad writing is to keep writing and keep learning. So keep going, trust the process, trust yourself, and don’t stop writing.
Exercise: Make and drink a cup of tea, but be patient and pay attention. In your slogan journal, write about your experience. What did you learn?
More in the book – available here: Free Your Pen: Mind Training for Writers
Image: Waiting for spring