Meditation Discussion Forum

Vipassana Meditation Forum => Meditation, Practice And The Path => Topic started by: urbanhermit on June 17, 2021, 10:42:39 AM

Title: Uncertain Times
Post by: urbanhermit on June 17, 2021, 10:42:39 AM
Hello all,

I seek guidance on how to live in uncertain times.

For example, at the moment, we have uncertainty due to the pandemic and potential future lockdowns, restrictions and more and more control from our government.

How can I learn to be present with the uncertainty and okay with the fact that, perhaps, plans I had for my life, may not materialise due to factors outside of my control.

Thank you

UrbanHermit
Title: Re: Uncertain Times
Post by: Alex on June 17, 2021, 09:37:45 PM
Hey urbanhermit

I hope you don't mind me asking some questions first.
Do you practice meditation? And if yes, what exactly do you practice in this meditation?

Kindly
Alex
Title: Re: Uncertain Times
Post by: Matthew on June 18, 2021, 01:14:02 AM
Hello UrbanHermit,

I seek guidance on how to live in uncertain times.

It's not so hard - you live same way as you do in certain times. Try to be at peace. Try to maintain good relationships with those around you. Live mindfully, compassionately, and in the present as much as you can. There are many things you can choose to do if you wish to develop qualities of equanimity and peace, so both certain and uncertain times are more easily navigated. Meditation is part of a balanced life and can help. So can yoga, sport, eating and sleeping well, not paying too much attention to things you cannot change, and mindfully acting within your power to be prepared for the vicissitudes of life.

Tonight I found my neighbour and friend had died. I don't think it was covid as he was fine on Monday. All times are uncertain. I was with two friends and we found him dead in his bed. I loved him as a man. I'm glad he was in my life. Now he's gone.

You don't know if you'll live a day, a month, or another fifty years. Make the most of life. Find good spiritual friends you can share with. Every moment is an opportunity to develop mindful and wholesome qualities in yourself. Compassion and peace in yourself will be good friends, whatever life throws your way.

If you want to meditate and can't/don't, we can help.

Best wishes,

Matthew
Title: Re: Uncertain Times
Post by: Siddharth on June 18, 2021, 11:13:12 AM
I hope the attachment helps you navigate better.

With Metta,
Siddharth
Title: Re: Uncertain Times
Post by: urbanhermit on June 18, 2021, 08:23:54 PM
Hey urbanhermit

I hope you don't mind me asking some questions first.
Do you practice meditation? And if yes, what exactly do you practice in this meditation?

Kindly
Alex

Hello Alex,

Thank for replying to my post,

Yes, I practice meditation albeit not as frequently as I should. I also try to take moments of mindfulness during the day.

Urbanhermit
Title: Re: Uncertain Times
Post by: urbanhermit on June 18, 2021, 08:47:22 PM
Hello UrbanHermit,

I seek guidance on how to live in uncertain times.

It's not so hard - you live same way as you do in certain times. Try to be at peace. Try to maintain good relationships with those around you. Live mindfully, compassionately, and in the present as much as you can. There are many things you can choose to do if you wish to develop qualities of equanimity and peace, so both certain and uncertain times are more easily navigated. Meditation is part of a balanced life and can help. So can yoga, sport, eating and sleeping well, not paying too much attention to things you cannot change, and mindfully acting within your power to be prepared for the vicissitudes of life.

Tonight I found my neighbour and friend had died. I don't think it was covid as he was fine on Monday. All times are uncertain. I was with two friends and we found him dead in his bed. I loved him as a man. I'm glad he was in my life. Now he's gone.

You don't know if you'll live a day, a month, or another fifty years. Make the most of life. Find good spiritual friends you can share with. Every moment is an opportunity to develop mindful and wholesome qualities in yourself. Compassion and peace in yourself will be good friends, whatever life throws your way.

If you want to meditate and can't/don't, we can help.

Best wishes,

Matthew

Hello Matthew,

Thank you for replying to my post and I'm sorry for your loss.

As I replied to Alex, my meditation practice isn't as frequent as perhaps it should be and I could certainly make my life healthier in terms of sleeping, exercise and eating healthily.

Your advice makes a lot of sense and I 'think' that I am too attached to my goals/ambitions. A more healthy approach would be to live my life in the moment and practice equanimity reqardless of whether my plans happen or not.

Having reflected on your post and my original post, I realise I overthink too much in lots of areas of my life i.e. what is my purpose, what should I be doing etc and if I've understood your post correctly, none of that really matters - it's about being mindful, compassionate (to self and others) and being in the present moment.

Urbanhermit
Title: Re: Uncertain Times
Post by: urbanhermit on June 18, 2021, 08:51:15 PM
I hope the attachment helps you navigate better.

With Metta,
Siddharth

Hello Siddharth,

Thank you for sharing the attachment.

If I understand the quote correctly, it means that because of the fact we are human, we cannot understand everything fully so we should accept this.

In terms of failing to correct our mistakes, does this also mean we should be compassionate towards ourselves and others even if a mistake is made multiple times?

Urbanhermit
Title: Re: Uncertain Times
Post by: Siddharth on June 18, 2021, 10:04:54 PM
In terms of failing to correct our mistakes, does this also mean we should be compassionate towards ourselves and others even if a mistake is made multiple times?

compassionate is a natural outcome of understanding on the path. when we become more and more aware (which is only possible with equanimity), we see the first fundamental truth of dukkha or suffering. when we see that we and people around us are suffering and acting due to ignorance. the acts of hate and seeming stupidity are rooted in the ultimate fact that people are suffering(mostly unaware of there suffering). psychologists have digged some layers of the mind to find complexes and the likes...

when this truth of suffering is evident to us, compassion towards ourselves and others is a natural outcome at some level. mind you that being compassionate does not always mean being accepting or encouraging of some actions. but our response to "multiple mistakes" is not rooted in anger/reaction/frustration, but a keen understanding of the person's suffering who is making the said mistakes...

there is a difference between a parent who disciplines their kid out of compassion and goodwill and a parent who takes out his day's frustration on the kid or wife, because they are helpless.

trying to "be" compassionate is fabrication at the ultimate level. one can try to fake it but that only helps develop some social status wrt being ahead on the path, being enlightened, or even civilized...(politeness has some value, but often overrated and creates more problems than it solves).. so ultimately conceentration with calm leading to higher forms of awareness for small periods of time where the truth of suffering is inevitable to notice... is something which leads to (or atleast for me has in some degrees lead to) development of compassion a lot more that I used to have when I saw things from a perspecive of right/wrong, fair/unfair, just/unjust, acceptable/unacceptable and so on... once you can see things from a perspective of suffering of others through observing your own suffering... it changes a lot..

anyways, i tried to make as much sense as I could, I hope this does not confuse you...accepting our limitations is fundamental to cultivating right attitude. most things we do are not ultimately out of competence but out of the need to feed the ego...even meditation practice at times... understanding this at an experiential level helps you accept parts of you which are hidden in general, which you would generally consider ugly or atleast bad...and seeing them and accepting your current state with equanimity allows you to understand and accept people around you at a much deeper level, at times more than they are able to accept themselves...often makes you a magnet for people to interact with (because they feel accepted and centred around you etc..)..but that is not something we are discussing rn
Title: Re: Uncertain Times
Post by: urbanhermit on June 18, 2021, 10:16:43 PM
Hello again,

I spent some time going through some of the old posts on this evening and found it to be very helpful.

A couple of bits of advice from Matthew:

I don't suggest you read ANY MORE BOOKS. This is ego building stuff. Instead I suggest you spend that time practicing meditation.

I realise that one of my issues has been constant overload of information from books, media, social media, other people and trying to take in all that information is too tiring. As Matthew said on the site - all my answers are within.

As I said before "pick a horse and ride it for a while". If you try riding two horses you're in a heap of trouble.

Although the context is different, I realise that I'm spreading myself too thin and trying to do too much. I need to focus on one thing at a time and in the first instance, that is building a solid foundation. That foundation needs to be better sleep and better health and, of course, regular mediation.

Thank you again for your help.

Urbanhermit
Title: Re: Uncertain Times
Post by: Matthew on June 19, 2021, 12:59:47 PM
Hello Matthew,

Thank you for replying to my post and I'm sorry for your loss.

As I replied to Alex, my meditation practice isn't as frequent as perhaps it should be and I could certainly make my life healthier in terms of sleeping, exercise and eating healthily.

These things are all in your control. They are foundations for feeling the power you have to change the things you can. Thank you for your condolences - it was a shock, yet he passed in his sleep with little obvious suffering. I shall miss him, and I'm thankful to have known him, a sweet and kind man.

Quote
Your advice makes a lot of sense and I 'think' that I am too attached to my goals/ambitions. A more healthy approach would be to live my life in the moment and practice equanimity reqardless of whether my plans happen or not.

We westerners especially, but most people I think, tend to live in our heads a bit. This is where worry about things out of your control is very toxic. You can't change it, yet allowing the mind to play to your fears can immobilise you, leave you feeling powerless and without agency.

Take the example of the pandemic: you can practice good social and hygiene routines, keep yourself as safe as reasonable, but you can't change the big dynamics of it. I realised a couple of months ago I was paying too much attention. I could feel the rising adrenaline when I read news articles, so I stopped. Turned off Facebook and my news reader app. I felt better about it all within two weeks of letting go. I stay informed about the overall picture and local information, but otherwise I avoid it.

Quote
Having reflected on your post and my original post, I realise I overthink too much in lots of areas of my life i.e. what is my purpose, what should I be doing etc and if I've understood your post correctly, none of that really matters - it's about being mindful, compassionate (to self and others) and being in the present moment.

You've summarised well what was behind my suggestions to you. Life is a series of present moments. We get caught up in stories about it and our mindfulness dissipates: we don't bring out best game to the situation.
Title: Re: Uncertain Times
Post by: urbanhermit on June 19, 2021, 09:43:07 PM
Hi Matthew

Thank you for your replies - very helpful and much appreciated.

Urbanhermit

Title: Re: Uncertain Times
Post by: Alex on June 20, 2021, 03:49:11 PM
Tonight I found my neighbour and friend had died.

My condolences, Matthew. May your friend rest in peace.
Title: Re: Uncertain Times
Post by: Alex on June 20, 2021, 03:59:51 PM
Hello Alex,

Thank for replying to my post,

Yes, I practice meditation albeit not as frequently as I should. I also try to take moments of mindfulness during the day.

Urbanhermit

I asked about your meditation practice because it is only by doing (i.e. actually taking the time to be present as best as we can) that we can learn to be present with experiences like uncertainty or not-knowing, fear, the tendency to (over)think and the desire to achieve and become, etc.
It is the consistency of practice that helps us to develop insights that pile up into the kind of embodied and lived wisdom that was shared by Matthew and Siddharth.

I don’t think that I want to add anything at this point, except a word of encouragement. It seems there is a seed of wisdom in you, that easily recognizes that we make a path by walking, not by reading or thinking. And that you have to walk the path a while before changing direction... or choosing a different horse.
I wish you fruitful travels ;)
Title: Re: Uncertain Times
Post by: urbanhermit on June 21, 2021, 10:42:46 AM
Thanks for the reply Alex, much appreciated.

It's becoming more and more obvious to me that life actually isn't complicated; humans tend to make it complicated.



Title: Re: Uncertain Times
Post by: Katia on August 22, 2021, 11:25:31 PM
Rather late to the game (haven't read here in a while), but would it help to put it into perspective and realize that many people do not get to do the things they wish to do or realize their dreams, due to circumstances outside their control?

I had a circumstance within the past few years where doing what I would like to do with my life has been impossible and will be in future, due to my obligations to family (parents and others) (and this is the second time in my life that my plans and hopes completely fell apart and I had to completely re-make all of my plans for my life).  I railed against it.  To an extent I still do.  But I have had to realize: many people deal with this.  Many people are not able to do what they would like in life because they can't afford to, or they are not healthy enough to, or they too have family obligations (many more onerous than mine have been), or some combination of these.  That in my life, I am still luckier than many people.  There is nothing special about me in having to give up what I want to do for reasons that are not my fault.  There is nothing special about me that it's more unfair for it to happen to me than to other people (I once read an article in which a person who asked "Why me?" was answered with, "why not you?").  For that matter, there is nothing special about me that I do not have many hardships others suffer-- I am merely lucky.  Do I sometimes feel resentful of people who seem to live a "charmed" life in which they can do whatever they want?  Sure.  But then I am humbled, over and over, by those who life a life more difficult than I can imagine enduring, and I count my blessings.

I know it seems awful that your life was on track until a pandemic came along, but many people face the same-- only their dreams were derailed by a sick parent, a disability, an illness or injury, a job lost, a natural disaster, a divorce or death of a spouse, a disabled child, or a life that never had good opportunities to begin with (or, even a pandemic, if they died or now have permanent health issues).  And for them, the restrictions on their lives are not temporary.  None of us who are missing out on something we would like to do are alone.  Many of us are better off than many others facing the same curtailing of wants and dreams.  I try to remember all of the negative things I am very lucky to not have in my life.
Title: Re: Uncertain Times
Post by: raushan on August 25, 2021, 08:51:01 AM

I had a circumstance within the past few years where doing what I would like to do with my life has been impossible and will be in future, due to my obligations to family (parents and others) (and this is the second time in my life that my plans and hopes completely fell apart and I had to completely re-make all of my plans for my life).  I railed against it.  To an extent I still do. 

I think this point is really good. It shows that in life things doesn't happen always we want to. We can accept it gracefully with the help of mindfulness and try to see the truth behind things that will make the life more beautiful and add a new experience. Or we can live that life complaining which will add more misery. Thanks for sharing the experience Katia.
Title: Re: Uncertain Times
Post by: Matthew on August 26, 2021, 11:12:45 PM

My condolences, Matthew. May your friend rest in peace.

Thank you Alex - I missed your post until now - I was offline a lot and processing. Things are good now - I have a deep appreciation for the friendship I had with Dave, and we had a great party/wake to celebrate his life, with a ceremony, music, food and lots of good friends (all in a covid-aware safe manner). It was a good "book-end" to the grieving process.

Thanks again, and kind regards,

Matthew
Title: Re: Uncertain Times
Post by: Matthew on August 26, 2021, 11:12:52 PM

Having reflected on your post and my original post, I realise I overthink too much in lots of areas of my life i.e. what is my purpose, what should I be doing etc and if I've understood your post correctly, none of that really matters - it's about being mindful, compassionate (to self and others) and being in the present moment.

Hey urbanhermit,

How are things with you? Are you finding ways to realise the practical benefits of what you wrote above? I hope so. :)

Kind regards,

Matthew