Local Surprise

Stranger: Are you new to the area?

Me: Yeah, I recently moved here from North Carolina.

Stranger: What brings you to Claymont, DE?

Me: You know that old Children’s Home on Green Street that’s been abandoned for 8 years? I’m helping the organization that’s trying to turn it into a Meditation Center.

Since moving to Claymont, I’ve had this conversation with a wide range of people like the eye doctor, grocery store cashier, barber, insurance agent, postal workers, construction workers, and neighbors, and they all have the same initial inquiry, “what are you teaching?” People are curious, surprised, and generally pleasant. When I explain that you can’t talk for 9 days, most people say, “There is no way I could do that,” but the response is still positive.

The biggest test was at the barber shop full of regulars who knew I was the new guy. After some time, the barber said, “Tell me more about the meditation your teaching. I’m a Christian, and I’m curious.” Alarms are going off in my head! Be careful! Don’t screw this up! I started off explaining how it’s a secular technique to purify the mind. He pushed a little harder about whether we were converting people, and explained how some people are uncomfortable that the teaching is from the Buddha, but the goal is to teach a technique, not to tell people what to believe. He seemed comfortable with the conversation, and expressed that he hoped to see me again soon. I’ll accept this as a small success of making meditation normal in Claymont.

This entry was posted in Personal Experiences by Ryan Shelton. Bookmark the permalink.

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.

5 thoughts on “Local Surprise

  1. Hi Ryan,

    Do you know any psychologists who are also Vipassana meditators? I am seeking to speak to a psychologist who also practices the meditation that Goenka taught. I sat my first course in August and served a course in September. I gladdened by the response that “Anonymous says” above: “May Dhamma Spread in Claymont”


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