Stop Shutting Down

After going through a difficult time, I started observing a new pattern in my life. Instead of jumping head first into a difficult situation, I was shutting down when situations became complicated and confusing. I had made some mistakes that had hurt myself and others and I was afraid to make any further wrong decisions. I figured, subconsciously anyways, that everyone would be better off if I just stayed out of the way. On my last course, I noticed this tendency to shut down.

It was the beginning of the 8th day and my mind was starting to think about life after the course. My mind was providing me with plenty of distractions, and on my previous courses I would take the bait. There were so many ways that my mind would try to convince me to quit working. It would tell me, “You’ve worked hard for 7 days, you deserve a break” or “Your distracted so what’s the point? You’re not going to get any deeper.” In the past I’ve always taken the bait. I had made it through the hardest days of the course so why not just coast a little bit?

This course was different. I thought, “Do I want to be the type of person who shuts down when things become difficult?” Shutting down when I didn’t know the right path or choice made some sense, but as I’ve developed in dhamma I’ve become more confident that this practice is the correct path to live a more compassionate life. It wasn’t confusion that was holding me back, it was laziness. Going to my room or walking around was easier than continuing to meditate, but I don’t want to be the guy that takes the easy path. I want to be the guy who keeps working at becoming a better person and doing the right thing.

Those last 2 days my mind kept trying to get me to quit but I kept working. My concentration was weaker than earlier in the course, but that didn’t matter. The important lesson was to keep trying regardless of how hard it was. Hopefully in my life I’ll notice that I’m starting to act with love and compassion in difficult situations rather that shutting down as has become my pattern. These two days were a start. Time to meditate.

3 thoughts on “Stop Shutting Down

  1. tomwhitemore

    Thank you for bringing back to me that wonderful but difficult battle that we all go through in sitting a course. I long to sit a course again but to have to wait untll the end of March!!! Long live avoiding the easy path……

  2. Charley

    Browsing this site because I am starting my first Vipassana course in a week, and know I’ll need to remember posts like this in those moments of doubt. You said it perfectly, shutting down when things get difficult isn’t really confusion-based but laziness taking over. Our intuition says, “Power through, there is a solution that will move you forward, countless others have succeeded before you,” but we still are quick to shove our heads in the sand. I’ve done it too often. Avoiding the easy path seems far more interesting and full of brighter potential.

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