The main difference between introverting and hiding is the smile on your face. Before my Dad got sick I was extroverted. After my Dad passed I was hiding. The first year I tried to take my practice seriously I was hiding. In the last few weeks I’ve started to introvert.
In 2009 I was a happy restaurant manager chatting with everyone who crossed my path. The shifting dynamics of my family as my father passed away rattled my foundation to the core. Everything that had once made sense suddenly became confusing. Words which had always come naturally to me in conversation stopped flowing. I was scared, confused, and uncomfortable. I was hiding. I needed to rebuild my foundation or truth but I didn’t know how.
I’m not sure if it was chance or not but it was around this time that I took my first Vipassana course. There was something in this practice that felt strong and true. I wanted to commit to the practice but it was hard. For the nine months following my first course I meditated periodically but I mostly continued living how I always had. It wasn’t until September of 2010 that I got tired of living in perpetual confusion and decided to give this practice a serious trial.
I tried to take a second course but it was so intense that I left on the 4th day. My determination didn’t waver but I felt like there was so much turmoil in my mind that I needed to face it in bite size pieces. I was starting a new job at Harvard University and decided to move in with an Alcoholics Anonymous couple so alcohol wouldn’t be a distraction. I didn’t know many people in Boston and I kept it that way. I was in hiding. Every sitting was a struggle but I faced it. Slowly I was developing a new understanding of truth and changing the habit pattern of my mind.
I was happy with my dhamma path but I still couldn’t find the words to explain my new truth or why meditation was so valuable to me. I transitioned to graduate school in North Carolina, a place where I had lived before as the old Ryan. My social scene had previously involved lots of partying and socializing and my first semester was tumultuous. My comfort zone was that old social scene but my commitment was to my practice. I searched for some local Goenka meditators I could relate to but I couldn’t find anyone. I again found myself in hiding.
I needed to find the words and confidence to live this practice, not hide in it, so I decided to take a leave of absence from school and become a long-term server. I was in deeper hiding at the center but it was an important part of my growth. After 7 months of service I had gained the needed words and was ready to start the fall semester.
Since August 1st I’ve been working on coming out of hiding. A couple of weeks ago I noticed the smile on my face returning. I haven’t become extroverted again but I’m successfully transitioning from hiding to introverting. I’m not uncomfortable talking about my practice and I don’t feel a need to force it upon people. I’m living the path that’s right for me and I can share it with the people who are interested. I’m also enjoying the company of non meditators again. Everyone has a unique and interesting path to live. Sharing in that path is a wonderful opportunity.
I don’t think overcoming the many hurdles to integrate this practice into your life needs to be as difficult as my path. I was facing some overwhelming events when I started Vipassana practice. There is no doubt that it will be challenging. I hope reading this helps you realize that there is light at the end of the tunnel. If there is any way I can help make your path easier let me know. Time to go meditate.