Before I started meditating, I couldn’t imagine a completely silent mind. Further, I would have considered mental silence a waste of my mental abilities. It took me several courses to realize that thinking was getting in the way of my meditation. In the process of establishing my daily practice, I found that the less busy my life was, the easier it was to meditate. This lead me to pull back from the world and live a simpler life.
After several years of consistent practice, my meditations have become stronger. I can overcome distractions that would have previously prevented me from meditating. For example, I just completed my first backpacking trip without missing my meditation. In the past, the bugs, or the thought of bugs, along with fatigue would cause me to give up on my practice and simply enjoy the outdoors. These sittings in the woods were more difficult than those in my home, but the distractions weren’t enough to deter me from my practice.
Now my life is becoming more complicated. I’m taking on more responsibilities and interacting with more people on a regular basis. My meditations have become more unsettled with plenty of thoughts interfering with my concentration. Previously I would have believed that my meditation was becoming weaker, but now I know that it takes a stronger mind to meditate with a complicated life, and my mind needs to become stronger to face these challenges.
I still have my doubts. Instead of allowing dhamma to help me solve difficult questions, I start trying to solve them with my intellect as I would have in the past. This causes my meditations to become even more distracted. Just like when I started meditating, I need to trust Vipassana to lead me through these questions. This is a time and place to think, but I can’t develop my life by thinking alone. When I started meditating I didn’t feel like I could face the difficulties both inside and outside my body simultaneously, so I pulled back from the world, and that was the correct decision at that time. Now it’s time to face them together. Time to meditate.