Finding Stability and Balance Outside of Dhamma

Is meditating 2 hours a day the solution to all of my problems? Is it the solution to all the world’s problems? I had never meditated before my first Goenka 10 day in 2010, and it opened a new and amazing door where I could explore and grow as a person. From 2011 to 2018 I meditated 2 hours a day believing this would guide my life in a meaningful direction, and it did. People can devote their entire lives to exploring only dhamma, but that path isn’t right for everyone, and forcing it was not helping me live my best life. My calling has not been to pursue liberation. My calling is to help people align their lives with truth and love. Isolating myself in the Goenka bubble limited my ability to develop meaningful relationships in my community. Meditating 2 hours a day was consuming and limited my ability to develop the rest of my life. I needed to try something new.

When I came to dhamma in 2010, my father had just died and I was navigating some challenging relationship dynamics. Dhamma gave me something wholesome to focus on that helped me right my ship. But after a while, focusing on meditating 2 hours a day wasn’t helping me grow stronger. I was steeped in faith and hope that dhamma would continue to lead me in the right direction, but my life didn’t feel stable and balanced. 

While I still felt a strong connection to dhamma, I stepped away from the expectations of the Goenka community and focussed on other aspects of my life. I started my own family, nurtured other family relationships, developed my high school teaching career, and prioritized exercise and eating well. I continued to meditate 20 to 30 minutes a day, but sitting two hours was no longer the primary marker of a successful day. I tried to listen to my internal compass, which I had before dhamma, but is stronger after my meditation experiences, and I feel good about the completeness of my life today. 

The world has been a bit crazy the last few years with COVID and other polarizing issues, so finding stability and balance has been critical. Letting go of my practice and prioritizing the other aspects of my life was the right decision for me. Now I’m ready to grow and go deeper, but I’m not exactly sure what that means or looks like. I’m hoping that returning to writing will help me to find my path forward.

3 thoughts on “Finding Stability and Balance Outside of Dhamma

  1. Jeff

    Ryan Shelton, Jeff Lonsdale from EYA here. I was just going through some old things and came across an email you sent several of us over 15 years ago. I decided to look you up and here you are, and it seems you just posted this. :-). Coming from rereading that old email, and the passion behind it, I want to validate that you seem to be fulfilling the dream you were eluding to back then. I really appreciated this post, it resonated with me and was relatable. I miss our talks and the depth of them. I hope you’re doing well, and would love to catch up sometime.

  2. tomwhitemore

    Hi Ryan.

    Great to read where you are at. I love the way you write!

    Your post resonated with me. Juggling family, career, life and maintaining my practice is a challenge.

    My personal approach to this is to accept I can only do what I can do. Sitting when I can and connecting to other Vipassana meditators gives me balance and stability. In two weeks, fingers crossed, I am going to sit a 3 day course. After a couple of years of not being able to sit seriously, I can’t wait to get back to Goenke time.

    Happy sitting Ryan

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