We all face difficult challenges in our lives. The bigger the challenge is, the more our choices and actions seem to define us. I’ve worked hard in my life to learn how to run into challenges instead of running away. I’m defined my willingness to step into chaos without a plan and to be there for friends and family regardless of the scale of the obstacle. At the level of awareness I was living my life before Vipassana, this was a great accomplishment, but as I’ve grown deeper in my practice I’ve noticed a more subtle distinction.
In the past, I would lower my head and expect confrontation before running into a difficult situation. My experience told me that as long as I faced the obstacles directly, even if there was some collateral damage, in the long run, the problem would be resolved. At times I would go beyond preparing for confrontation by instigating confrontation. I didn’t want anything swept under the rug to manifest itself later. I wanted everything out on the table. Sometimes when I stirred the pot, I would face unpleasant things that I didn’t want to see or hear, but I would just keep fighting my way forward until I got to the other side.
Vipassana has shown me that I can face these challenges without being confrontational. It’s true that I don’t want to run and hide from difficult situations, but there’s a healthier way to face them. Instead of confronting people and situations, I should focus on acknowledging them and accepting them. I used to think I pushing people in the right direction was helpful, but I’m discovering that the more personal someone’s choices are the better. If I force someone in a particular direction, the moment I leave their life they will return to their own way. While it might boost my ego to see someone moving in the “right” direction, I’m not necessarily helping them.
The subtle difference comes with how I address these difficulties. People are often blind to the consequences of their actions to themselves and others so it’s important to help a person see these things, but I don’t need to be confrontational. I simply need o be a mirror for their actions. I need to help them slow down and witness what is happening around them. First, I need to accept the reality of the challenge at hand. Then I can approach the eye of the storm with a calm and quiet mind. My peaceful presence alone will help everyone gain perspective of the reality of what’s currently happening. Finally, I need to accept the choices and actions of everyone in the situation. I was incorrect to believe that I could change a persons choices or actions. Every individual needs to come to these decisions on their own.
My role is to be strong, firm, equanimous, peaceful, and loving. That’s all I really have control over, and that’s more than enough to keep me busy. It takes a lot of humility to accept the choices of the people in our lives but their lives are their lives. What’s most important is that I take full ownership of my life. The best way I’ve found to do this is through my daily meditation practice. Time to go meditate.