Introduction by Ryan Shelton: I met Nate in 2008 on a random Saturday afternoon at a restaurant in Carrboro, North Carolina. We hit it off immediately spending the next 14 hours on a wild adventure that included kick ball, dancing, amateur boxing, and failing to balance on aluminum cans. Little did I know that Nate would change the direction of my life by introducing me to Vipassana and inviting me to sit my first course in 2010 at Dhamma Patapa. Dhamma has been an important part of both of our lives and our relationship ever since.
Dhamma Story: I first heard about Vipassana in 2005 while house-sitting for a friend of mine. I didn’t have TV at my house, so I stayed up late one night channel surfing, and stumbled across the documentary ‘Doing Time, Doing Vipassana’ about courses being offered in a huge maximum security prison in India. I was really inspired by the film and almost immediately signed up for my first course, which I sat a couple of months later at Marywood Retreat Center (a rented facility) in Jacksonville, FL. As with many people, that first course changed my life, and soon I was sitting regularly and doing long-term service, which culminated a with a 5 year stint as center manager at the Southeast Vipassana Center in Jesup, GA as it was just getting off the ground. While I was there I was honored to be able to serve at Donaldson Correctional Facility as part of the North American Prison Trust, and give back in a way to inmates, who had been my initial inspiration to sit. I served children’s and teen courses in addition to the many 10-day courses, and was fortunate to develop my practice as part of a seamless whole integrated into my daily work routine as on-site manager. I met my wife, a Vipassana meditator as well, while at the center, and now am the happy father of a lovely 13-year old step-daughter and 1-year old son. Vipassana has dramatically changed our family’s lives and continues to be a bedrock influence in maintaining our efforts at harmoniously interacting with each other and the world.