Balance

While meditating 2 hours a day for 6 years, I adopted some unhealthy patterns. I exercise less, spend less time developing relationships, go on less adventures, and I’m more passive when facing life’s challenges. By surrendering to dhamma, I surrendered control of my life and created an expectation that dhamma would fix everything for me. If life is simply the manifestation of my sensations, do I actually have control? Add that I’m dissolving my ego and the idea of self and life becomes pretty passive.

At the time I started meditating, my life was full of conflict and impossible challenges, and meditation helped me process this pain, find needed patience, and set my spiraling life in a positive direction. I owe a tremendous amount to my meditation practice, but I’ve surrendered too much. I’ve lost meaning and excitement. I’m not engaged in our worldly problems. I hoped that meditation would be the golden ticket to a better world, but meditation isn’t for everyone, and my current life isn’t a blissful example of greatness. I can’t simply hide behind my practice waiting for the world to become a better place, so what do I do?

I’ve been evaluating the importance of dhamma in my life. Why do I meditate and how does it make my life better? Is the purpose of my life to grow in dhamma and spread its teachings? How long was I simply checking the “2 hours a day” box without connecting my practice to my daily activities? How can I engage a world from the base of dhamma without proselytizing this technique which simply drives people further away from it? How do I spread love in communities that don’t relate to dhamma and meditation? How do I connect with meditators from different traditions without “mixing techniques”?

Years ago I pondered, “If dhamma is the greatest contribution I can make in this world, shouldn’t I become a monk?” My answer at that time was that I simply wasn’t mature enough in dhamma to give up the joys of a householder’s life. I’m also not interested in rejecting the population that has pursued spiritual paths outside of Goenka’s teachings. Dhamma has wonderful insights to introduce to my life, but I must also succeed as a husband, a son, a brother, a teacher, a friend, a community member, an American, and every other way h householder life demands.

My life must have balance, and to find this balance I must questions Goenka’s teachings. Instead of simply accepting and following, I must discover the appropriate healthy balance for my life. Maybe it was right for me to meditate 2 hours a day before but not now. Maybe I need to nurture my ego and community identity to sustain the confidence to engage life to the best of my ability. Maybe I need to focus on celebrating a little more and developing equanimity a little less. Maybe the dhamma path is a little too theoretical for me to truly engage it continuously in a healthy way. Regardless of the answers, I need to retake responsibility for my life and engage the challenges of the world to the best of my ability. I know dhamma has a role to play, but discovering how to create balance in my life is a new challenge.

Do any of you have advice regarding how to find a healthy balance between dhamma and your householder life? Or have you found a healthy and productive way to engage your spiritual community beyond Goenka’s tradition? I would enjoy hearing your thoughts. Time to meditate.

 

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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.

4 thoughts on “Balance

  1. Hey Ryan. That’s not a bad problem to have.
    Think of the meditation as ‘net practice’ and life as the ‘world series ‘.

    No matter how good you practice it’s important to play the game well. So step up to the plate Ryan. ☺️

    P. S. I’m not American so I hope I got the baseball jargon right.

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  2. I have had a similar experience Ryan. My drive for success disappeared after my first 10 day course. It left me feeling so peaceful and happy, content and complete, there was nothing left to do. But this was a problem for my family. They needed me to be in action. It was very frustrating for months. It was challenging beyond my ability to comprehend. I have spent the past year working out how to be in this state of bliss while still performing my duties as wife and mother. Now I also took on a new role in the skin care industry and I am finding it difficult to push myself to reach the goals I am encouraged to. Won’t having goals and deadlines contradict my peaceful equanimity? Conundrum for sure. I have been discussing this with many people in my circle of friends and family and they all have a different way of seeing it. I have concluded that I must discover my own way to look at it, for myself and perhaps there is no right way. What ever way I find that works. I am still working on it, but it’s helpful to know I’m not alone in my search.

    Currently, my perception is that like bathing, we get dirty, and then we shower, daily. Perhaps my meditation is like my mental bath. I get dirty, working on goals, achieving this and that, then I meditate to cleanse my mind from it. At the same time, bringing my peaceful equanimity to all I do, so that I am completely aware of each moment, so I make choices that are in alignment with the true nature of things. I have a long way to go but make I feel I’m making progress. I have let go of most of my expectations for myself and others, while at the same time, holding space for our happiness. These things are so difficult to explain.

    It would be nice to have someone wise and well practiced to discuss this with for sure, but honestly, it’s an inside job. I wish us both luck in our journey towards these and other discoveries.

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  3. Every student of Dhamma carries his own Karmic baggage and personality traits.

    For someone who lacks energy or purpose in the form of a vision beyond mere self aggrandisement or self-sustenance there can be a risk of withdrawal, detachment or even de-personalisation.

    The entire day of a meditator must evolve into a state of Zen, total involvement in the task at hand – a kind of working meditation ?

    Taking up tasks of increasing responsibility and creativity with engrossed detachment is the way to cultivate fearless engagement with the mundane. The student engaged in Right Meditation must be filled with the zeal for the challenges of daily work but always with a sense of detachment from the ultimate positive outcome or reward.

    As the Bhagavad Gita reminds us – we have the right to our labour but not always to the fruits thereof.

    We must always strive to strengthen oneself with the objective empowering others around us, whether that be our life partners, our progeny, our work colleagues or the society around us – in that order of priority.

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