Thai women wait patiently for a ceremony to get started

Patience is a very difficult quality to develop. Most of the time when we are impatient we can see that grasping for immediate gratification will not be in our long-term interests but we are compelled so strongly that we cannot resist the temptation. Thankfully, the Buddha gave us the tools to learn how to deal with temptation effectively.

He explained to us that applying will-power alone will never lead us to liberation from our desires. The quality of desire is too strong to be resisted. That is why we need to avoid situations that cause destructive desires to arise and root them out with insight meditation.

At meditation retreats students are given a physical location that keeps them away from the situations that cause them to be distracted by sensual pleasure and prone to over-indulgence. This setting forms a foundation for meditation practice free from unnecessary distraction and allows for the accumulation of the tendency to be mindful.

When we apply mindfulness consistently we may see that desire is formless and intermittent. It is not solid or permanent but constantly shifting in its object and intensity. When we bring the mind back to the present moment, we are letting go of the old desire and potentially about to confront a new one. If we develop patience in this approach of overcoming each moment of desire as it appears to us we can eventually observe those moments where the pattern ceases more durably. This allows us to experience a measure of peace which can grow as our practice matures.

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