How poor they are that have not patience!What wound did ever heal but by degrees?

-William Shakespeare

from Meditations from the Mat, but Rolf Gates

The growth we encounter in yoga is dramatic. Physically, mentally, and spiritually we are born anew. But for all of us there is a honeymoon during those first few months, and years, as we imagine all our problems quickly evaporating .. In some ways this honeymoon is very helpful, because it provides much-needed momentum in the difficult process of change.

Inevitably, though, the honeymoon eventually gives way to some issue that simply won't budge. Even in the bloom of our new passion, we realize there are still grave problems at work or at home. Liberated from our obsessive thinking, we discover the depression, grief, or pain that was hidden underneath. As our spines become increasingly flexible, we being to understand the extent of the physical consequences of decades of compensating.

Then we embark on a period of reconstructing. And this is where the real work begins.

In a Course in Miracles, the adage "Many are called but few are chosen" is used to suggest that although life offers all of us countless opportunities for growth, all too few of us bother to pick up the signals. We don't choose to hear the message. In yoga, the first real setback has the potential to be the last, unless we are willing to persevere with patience.

BKS Iyengar call faith a "yoga vitamin," and patience is truly an unsung aspect of faith. Our practice takes us into the unknown. We deliberately head out into new terrain, off the charts of our familiar world. Such exploration calls for radical faith ... Shakespeare reminds us that we heal by degrees. We will have bad days and good days, in practice as in life. Sometimes the progress of yesterday seems to have evaporated today. And yet there is always movement.

As long as we show up and do the work, healing will happen.

This is the message but we must be willing to hear it. We must be prepared to bear witness, patiently, to the degrees by which we move forward.  As we learn to celebrate these moments in our practice, we refine our appreciation for subtlety and learn to appreciate growth in those around us as well. And as we practice patience on our mats, our ability to stay .. both on and off the mat - grows.