Two months ago I completed 7 months of long-term service at Dhamma Patapa. Everyone was asking me if my time at the center had changed me. I told them that I wouldn’t know until I returned to the real world. I took my first course in March of 2010 and I had experienced the difficulties of implementing this practice into a real world life before. I had felt like a changed person at the center before only to become frustrated and disconnected from my practice in just a few weeks of life in the real world. I knew I needed to focus and work hard to continue my practice. I thought I had grown a lot in my time at the center but I knew the real tests were still to come.
The last 2 months have been extremely successful. I’ve completed my 2 hours of meditation every day. I’ve developed a meditation support network in my community primarily by hosting a group sitting. I’ve been facing the issues of feeling different and disconnected from others with my practice. I feel the happiest and healthiest I’ve been since my Dad died 2.5 years ago.
Now that I feel happy and healthy inside I need to focus more energy on developing my life outside. I need to re-engage my career. This practice has made me question what my life should look like moving forward. I’ve been working so hard to establish my practice and follow my precepts in the present that I haven’t spent the time to figure out how to set my path up for the future. Dhamma can help guide me but I need to put in the work and time to navigate this path.
I’ve also neglected the relationships in my life. I’ve been working hard to heal the pain and suffering inside which has caused me to pull back from many of the relationships that mean so much to me. I need to re-engage the people who are important to me and heal any tension or issues between us. This is a scary, difficult path but an important one.
So far I’ve succeeded at establishing my daily practice and building a local community of meditators. Now it’s time to see if my practice can support me as I connect with friends, family, and my career. To answer the people who asked me if my time at the center had changed me, to put it simply, yes. Time to go meditate.