top of page

Muddy Waters

“Do you have the patience to wait till your mud settles and the water is clear?

Can you remain unmoving till right action arises by itself?”

Lao-Tzu, as quoted by Rolf Gates in “Meditations from the mat”


I have heard a variety of definitions of patience in the past. However, these statements are knocking my ‘patient’ socks off. I sit with considerable dis-ease within.

According to Rolf Gates, Lao-Tzu is describing self study in action. This is our yogic niyama of svadhyaya, self study. According to our 12 Step program, this would be very similar to step 10: continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.

I have been approaching self study as an action of step 10. In my daily life, I will pause a couple times a day and put myself in the presence of God. I will connect with gratitude. Reflect on my emotions as experienced to that point in my day, and direct my prayer forward with intention to alter my attitude and path. I find this very helpful in my ongoing conscious contact with God. Further, I find myself more fully in the moment and with a greater experience of contentment.

Now I ask myself, how do I integrate this process of waiting for the mud to settle? How do I remain unmoving? This is totally inconsistent with my approach to daily inventories and self study.

Now I must ponder……………………………..

Are these two different processes or one?

I am believing that waiting for the mud to settle will bring me in to a much more conscientious contact with God. This waiting, this posture of ‘unmoving’, will require that I allow my admission of error to evolve into resolution. This is substantially different than jumping to a decision to correct my error. My usual tactic of jumping to the decision to correct my error is an act of my will. While my intentions are healthy, they are my intentions. If I sincerely seek through prayer and meditation to improve my conscious contact with God, I wouldn’t be jumping to any quick decision.

In my mind, this sounds great. I’ll become more mindful of the process of waiting and not moving. Right? Isn’t that a part of meditation?

Here is the challenge as I see it: where is this mud coming from? What is this mud? Why is it in my glass in the first place?


I am now on overload.

It’s time to breathe.

It’s time to recognize that at this particular moment, I have no answer to my questions. My tool box is empty so I cannot fix this right now. Rats!

I’ll breathe some more.

I’ll accept this mud in my glass for the time being. I’ll ponder. I’ll meditate. I’ll trust that this revelation is the first step in a process of growth that is offered to me right now.

Whew! This is OK.

Our collective wisdom will muster the energy to take us all to our muddy glasses and impatient impulses. We will take what we need from the words of these wise people.

We will wait, remain unmoving, and share the results of our experience, gain strength, and offer each other hope. Yes, that’s what we will do. I don’t have to do it alone.

As always, I am grateful, to God, to you, and to an opportunity to learn more about patience and self study.


20 views0 comments
bottom of page