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.



About Ryan Shelton

In March of 2010 I discovered a path to peace and happiness through a 10-day Vipassana meditation course in the tradition of S.N. Goenka. After establishing my personal practice, and witnessing how it changed my way of life, I'm now curious to explore how the growing community of meditators can help to support each other and make the world a better place.
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2 Responses to Balance

  1. Altaf says:

    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.

  2. anon says:

    How is your progress with 10 Paramis:


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