November 9, 2011 § 5 Comments
It really is, the daily struggle! That grind that you feel like you’re just pushing yourself through.
That’s really what I’ve been encountering these last couple of months. The last time I posted anything, we were in the long, lazy days of summer. While I had plenty to keep me busy, I did have time to just sit and write, and think about what I was going to write, to give my study of Buddhism a lot of time, attention, and thought.
Then, it all fell apart. As the school year approached, there was a whole new routine to adjust to, and my schedule this school year hasn’t worked out in a way so as to afford me much free time. I’m finding myself dragging stacks of work home to grade and correct, and tons of lessons to try to plan out — not even ahead of time. Just to keep my nose above water.
As these stresses piled up, I found myself letting things go here and there — the first thing, was exercise (ack!). Then, it was my reading of anything, on Buddhism or otherwise. Slowly but surely, my meditation practice also disappeared and eventually, I’m feeling like my life has been swallowed whole by the Stress Monster.
A few days ago I was sitting here feeling like a big failure — I’m a Fake Buddhist, I told myself. A Real Buddhist wouldn’t give up their meditation practice because they got tired or stressed out. They wouldn’t stop studying because they had too much work to do. A Real Buddhist would find a way to make it All Work, right?
Now, the reasonable part of my brain realizes a few things: 1) I would probably be less stressed out if I DID let myself set my work aside and make more time for exercise and meditation. After all, those two things are the meat of stress-management; 2) No one is perfect; and 3) This is what accepting impermanence and change is all about — not letting yourself get all bummed out because things changed, and not seeing yourself as a Bad Person or a Fake anything because you felt that you had to set one thing aside for a while in exchange for something else.
That being said, no matter how much you try to be at peace with this fact, it’s hard to see a state that you were quite happy with change, and change in a direction you don’t like. I love studying buddhism, I was really pleased with my meditation and exercise routines — they both just balanced out my days nicely.
In the past, a change like this in my life would have done a lot of bad things to me — avoidance (sinking into video games, eating, or just generally finding something to help me avoid ALL THINGS, including work and family), and anger in general, striking out in all directions OUTWARDLY — that would be blaming everything and everyone around me, but not looking AT ME.
Instead, I’ve made myself take a look at what’s happening INSIDE. Why am I doing this? Are all the changes I’ve made for the good? What can I do differently to make me feel at least a little happier? Am I making the best choices (intent) in general?
I’m thinking this is an example of how having a buddhist practice that you’ve groomed can come into play in your life when things get tough — it’s taught me to look at the issue head on, and make sure I’m on The Path — right intent, right action, and also at Why I’m Doing This. I know there are things I can do differently, and I’m hoping that I’ve correctly identified them, and hoping to get back to some things I’ve had to set aside — my main outlets which include writing, reading, exercising and meditating. It’s not happening all at once, but I’ve started with making sure I find time to stir exercise and reading back into my day.
Next up are going back to writing (I’ve had several blog posts in the works and just “never have time” to finish!), and meditating.
Unfortunately, there are some things I can’t change — for now, I’m having to set aside my group in Second Life, as well as the area I’ve set up for the reading group in SL. Preparing for discussions unfortunately takes more time than I have — at least, preparing for them the way *I* think I should 😉 That being said, I have plans to try to start a study group in the summer … we’ll see.
But that’s OK, it’s all about change, accepting the change, and not allowing myself to be attached to a set of expectations. For now, I’m doing what I can, when I can. I remember this mantra from when I first started my studies … how did I let myself forget????