It’s Mostly a Biology Thing

My initial connection to Vipassana was probably similar to most people. When I hear about meditation and the teachings of the Buddha my first connection is to religion, and if I want to use New Age jargon, I connect it to spirituality. The problem is, once this practice is linked to religion it encounters the conflict of competing against other religions.

We, of course, know how to explain that this is a universal practice and how people of all the religions can practice this technique without converting to Buddhism, but even taking refuge in Buddha at a course is a huge intellectual hurdle for many people. And for me, initially I really enjoyed having a personal religious/spiritual practice that made sense to me because it was the first time in my life having that experience.

As my practice develops, or at least in this current moment, I’m finding more distance between my practice and spirituality. Instead, I’m connecting more to Vipassana from my scientific mind. It’s a simple recipe; By sitting daily I can observe my mind through the sensations in my body, and as I observe with equanimity the tensions in my mind dissolve and go away. It’s really that simple.

In the early stages of establishing my practice most of my meditation time was consumed by my mind running in every direction simultaneously. I felt the need to justify my practice with all of these peripheral meanings including spiritual development. As I’ve experienced the biological process that takes place through meditation more frequently my intellectual explanations have become more simple. I accept that the Buddha discovered how to purify the mind. I accept that the technique of Vipassana helps to purify my mind meaning that this practice makes me mentally happier and healthier. That’s it. I no longer need to get entangled in the complex religious discussions with my practice. It’s just a mental technique that makes me happy and healthy. Time to meditate.

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About Ryan Shelton

While I'm currently married to a beautiful woman while teaching physics at Padua Academy, these descriptors fail to capture the totality of my adventurous life. I have hiked over 1700 miles, traveled to 5 continents, managed a bakery, started a meditation center, counseled troubled teens, attended Duke, UNC, and Harvard, protected forests as a wildland firefighter, volunteered thousands of hours with Americorps, rafted the Grand Canyon, SCUBA dived on the Great Barrier Reef, and continues to find new adventures. I hope my writing encourages you to pursue your dreams and be the best version of yourself while supporting your communities to work together to solve the current challenges in our world.

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