The most confusing and potentially useful aspect of integrating Vipassana into my daily life is learning how to interact with the individuals and communities in my life. Before Vipassana I learned that being extraverted and personable were important skill when trying to accomplish a goal. Communication channels need to be open in any calibration and if people don’t like you they’re not going to want to help you. When building a team in the past the first thing I did was make a personal connection with each individual. I would share a beer with one person, talk about hiking and travelling with someone else, support someone listening to their current life drama and connecting to their emotional swings, and simply smile and make eye contact with the quiet one. I was a master at connecting with people because I’ve had such a diversity of experiences and interests.
Vipassana has made it more challenging for me to connect with the masses of people with no interest in meditation. All of my choices in the past were logical and easy to convey to a stranger. Vipassana is very confusing to explain. I appear either mystical and whimsical because I focus on observing the feelings inside of me, or I disconnect from people by explaining how 10 days of silent meditation have taught me to perceive something that they can’t relate to. Vipassana places such a heavy focus on my personal practice and making independent decisions that I’ve withdrawn a lot from my communities and from personal relationships.
Instead I seek out individuals who can relate to my path and I’ve met some wonderful people and friends. I’m convinced that the relationships I’m building through meditation will be the deepest relationships of my life, constantly resonating with truth, honesty, and love. This is a great gift of Vipassana.
But what about all of those other people I used to connect to? What about those superficial relationships with neighbors and colleagues that help the world go round? Do those relationships slowly become devalued because I’m on the great path of dhamma? Do I fake interest in their lives to make my own life easier? Do I confront them with the more meaningful life path of Vipassana? I know these are leading questions, so maybe they’re the wrong ones to ask, but the do express my current confusion.
I’ve always viewed myself as a proactive leader of positive change. The best tools I’ve had to promote change are my ability to connect with everyone and my willingness to step into difficult situations and provide direction. My practice currently seems to be drawing me away from both of these tools as I find myself focusing on my own liberating path rather than helping other individuals and my community. I’m open to helping people, but it feels like the need to buy into “my path” to receive that help and that doesn’t feel right.
It’s possible that in this early stage of my development of dhamma that I should be focusing on myself and that with time the best ways to help people will become more clear. There are many aspects of this practice that ring so pure and true to me, but this is one aspect that still doesn’t sit quite right. I hope that in time I’ll find solutions and not just settle into acceptance. I am willing to give this time. Time to go meditate.