Confidence is Complicated

Learning Vipassana caused me to stop evaluating my life based on my accomplishments in the world and to start looking inside. While my resume looked pretty good, I discovered that I was carrying an abundance of anger, sadness, and fear. My confidence dissipated as I reflected on the misery I brought to the people around me throughout my life. Its been a long road, but I’ve worked through most of the deepest rooted negative emotions as they manifested as painful gross sankaras. I’m not prancing around in bonga, but the gross sensations that come up are less painful and pass away more quickly.

The difficulty now is living my new way of life with confidence. I know that following precepts and meditating 2 hours a day is the healthiest way for me to live, but since it’s so unusual, I feel like I’m on an island. Confidence often comes from knowing I have the support of family or friends, but when I’m doing something that few understand, it’s harder to feel the supported stability. Maybe I’m talking more about comfort than confidence. Living Vipassana is rarely comfortable. I’m constantly challenged by the practice to go deeper within myself to draw my inner misery to the surface and face it. That’s basically the opposite of comfort, but I know it’s the right thing for me to be doing.

For many years, the struggles caused by looking within required all of my braveness. Now I’m feeling the drive to bring my new dhammic self into new environments. I used to salivate at the thrill of meeting new people and taking on new adventures. Now that I value being open and completely honest, I feel more vulnerable exploring, but I think this is the new adventure. Hopefully I’m brave enough to accept it. 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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