My Humble Authentic Voice

Goenka’s stories and discourses are so good that for years I found myself using his language and sharing his stories in casual conversation as if they were my own. Vipassana was so novel and different from anything I had ever experienced that I hadn’t developed the necessary language to articulate my personal thoughts and feelings so I automatically borrowed Goenka’s language. I also adopted the belief that by meditating 2 hours a day and surrendering to dhamma, all of the problems in my life would go away. In practice, this didn’t turn out to be true.

There is no doubt that meditation brought tremendous benefit to my life. I was able to release strong feelings of anger, frustrations, and blame that were holding me back, but once I released the negative emotions, meditation didn’t give me a plan to move forward. I kept surrendering and being patient until I realized that I was in a new rut. My physical health had deteriorated and my financial stability was questionable. I had focussed so much energy on internal growth that I had been neglecting my external growth. Meditation had helped me clear out the emotional rubbish inside but it didn’t determine my destination outside. I needed to actively look out into the cleared meadow and set a course.

Part of this journey has been reconnecting to my pre-Vipassana wisdom and discovering how to integrate the lessons from Goenka and Vipassana into that framework. I needed to discover from my own experience where Vipassana could contribute to my life, and where I needed to keep working from my previous knowledge set. Instead of simply parroting Goenka’s language and stories, I needed to find my authentic voice and personal truth by creating my own language and stories. While my opinions may not resonate with the depth of truth of Goenka’s words, it’s my humble authenticity that people in my life can trust. 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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