Facing Discomfort

Life can be challenging. We all face difficult life changing moments. How we respond in these moments help define who we are. I’ve alway evaluated myself and others when adversity arises. We often see the a persons true nature in these difficult moments. I’ve always strived to face these challenges head on. My willingness to fight gave me a little bit more courage to face whatever came my way.

Meditation helps us prepare for these overwhelming moments, but this practice expects more from us. Dhamma doesn’t want you to cower from these moments, but it also doesn’t want you to fight. This added expectation is scary for me. Movies show us that it’s honorable to fight to the very end. We call those fighters “heroes.” There’s much less glory being compassionate and loving to the enemy.

We assume that our enemies fixed on their path and that nothing will stop them unless we defeat them. After learning about the continuous changing nature within yourself through meditation, it’s a small leap to realize that our enemies are also continuously changing. Instead of trying to defeat our enemies, meditation challenges us to view these individuals or groups with compassion and love.

This compassion can often be misunderstood with passivity. It’s easier to hope for all being to be happy than to hope that murderer or a rapist is happy. Dhamma doesn’t want us to sit in our homes and hope for the people of this world to be happy from our personal cushions. Dhamma wants us to help the people in our lives suffering from mental impurities. Those people we used to call our enemies. There’s no room in meditators life for enemies.

Meditation is such a helpful teacher. When we have upsetting conversations or confrontation and try to sit, we observe all kinds of uncomfortable sensations throughout the body. Every day we practice observing these discomforts with peace, compassion, and an understanding that they’re temporary. If we react and become agitated, these sensations and our mental anguish increase. I we just observe, they go away.

This same process works with people too. When faced with a difficult interaction, if we allow anger and frustration to overwhelm us, the situation gets worse, but if we can observe the discomfort and act skillfully and compassionately in the situation, the situation will improve. Meditation doesn’t teach us to be passive. It helps us practice acting skillfully in challenging, life defining moments. It teaches us to stop fighting and to confront difficulties compassionately. I teaches us how to live a good life. Time to meditate.

One thought on “Facing Discomfort

  1. Ashish Gupta

    Hi Ryan…nicely written.
    It is rightly said that ” Anybody can hold the helm when the sea is calm” Our character is really put to test when we encounter a difficult situation.
    Vipassana surely works like a yardstick for me whenever I land in any situation wherein I am hurting myself. My beloved monkey mind throws a reminder and in no time I experience the detestable sensations to run their course and saved from the agony of pain.

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