Thursday, May 24, 2012

Struggling and lost . . . for now

These days I am struggling. 

There are so many things I want to do with my life, and since finishing my degree last month, I finally have the time (and freedom) to do them! 

Most of all I would like to . . .
Get a job teaching college students Plant Biology and Biology, strengthen my meditation practice, strengthen my body through fitness, and write about my questions and discoveries about the Dhamma here at BCB. I also would like to study Tamil, my husband's native language, so that I can communicate with and feel even more comfortable around his family members.

However, I remain undisciplined. I also feel very tired. I think my body and mind might be trying to recover from the stress of the past year. I discussed this with my husband, and he said I can't be recovering forever. I reminded him that it's only been a month. He smiled as he remembered that and agreed. 

He also told me that he worries. He wants me to be independent, both financially and as an individual. I am touched by his sincerity and confidence in me. He is not threatened by my independent nature and free spirit. 

But I still feel lost. For the past six years there has been so much pressure, so many expectations that now I don't know what to do. I have accomplished something great, yet I was so focused on reaching my goal that anything beyond that appeared to me as a blurry apparition. And it remains so. 

I want to take action, to take the bull by the horns, but feel almost like a ghost, not able to grasp anything. The weeks fly by, and I accomplish little. Trying to tap into whatever intuitive wisdom is within my reach, I feel the answer somehow lies in backing off, letting go, being present -- and being patient.  

Nonetheless, it still feels all mixed up, and I haven't the slightest idea how to proceed- or even begin.  

I know that in the future I will look back at this post and smile at my worries, showing once again that as long as one takes mindful action, things usually turn out for the best.  

But for now I just don't know how to get there. 

If you have any advice to me about this situation, please share with me in the comments. I always look forward to insight and wisdom from others, and would very much appreciate it!

May all beings be happy! 


  1. This may sound paradoxical, but for me, sometimes I want something so badly that no matter how hard I try to reach what it is that I want, it's still out of my grasp, but once I let go of what it was that I so longed for, next I know, it's knocking at my door.

    1. You are so right, Lon! That has happened to me before, that if I just let go of whatever I am pining for, it will appear in my life some way. If it just doesn't happen, I realize later that it was probably for the best.

      I just need to remember to think this way now, at this point in my life.

      Thanks so much Lon! I have written a post for everyone who commented here to thank all of you for all your kindness and wisdom!

  2. AW Renata, we've all been there. Maybe all you need is time. Maybe you need a break, physically, emotionally and spirtually. Maybe enjoy some long walks in the the beautiful summer weather and meditate. Just take some time for relax? To enjoy and take a breather from all the pressure you've been under. Six years is a long time to be working towards something....I think you just need time to decompress and while doing that, the next step will come to you. Maybe keep a journal, or at least take a few moments each day to write down what some of your goals are, now that you have graduated. If you're a type A personality like I am, get some resumes out there and just GO FOR IT!!! :)
    I hope you can find your way quickly and easily.....
    May the spirit of compassion and peace be within you :)

    1. Thanks so much quietmind279, for your great compassion and advice. Yes, I think some time to think would be good. In fact, I am thinking about doing a little home mini retreat sometime this week, to relax and make time for spiritual growth and reflection. I know it won't banish my worries completely, and it may take me some more time to find my true path, but I feel that it will help me make some steps in the right direction.

      My next post I have dedicated to everyone who commented so compassionately on this post, please check it out if you have the time- I hope you enjoy it :)

  3. You will find your next path when it is time. It can't be rushed. I have full faith that you will find focus and motivation in time. Next week? Three months from now? Who can say about that part - but it will happen. I do believe you have quite a few potential goals to focus on. You might even find a new one! For now, try (I know it's hard!) to relax.

    1. Thanks so much for your kind and very wise advice, DJ! I am truly touched by the wisdom that you and everyone here has shared with me. I think you are so right about just taking time to pause and not rush, letting inspiration come to me in its own time. I know that it is what I need to do to begin the next path in my life.

      I have dedicated my next post to everyone who so kindly commented here, please check it out if you have the time- I hope you enjoy it :)

  4. Dear Renata, I know the feeling. When I graduated from medical school (1976), after accomplishing a desired goal, I started a very busy internship (at least 100 hours/week), so I didn't even have time to contemplate my situation. Only by looking back did I realize similar feelings to what you are going through. I think the above comments are are so good. You have great blog friends.
    I hope a comment might help you. There might be some similarity to trying to swim upstream against a strong current. It becomes impossible. It might be better to turn on your back, float, and allow the river to do the work (at least temporarily). The Taoist concept of "go with the flow" has helped me in difficult times.
    Also, I would like to quote the Bhagavad-gita (realizing the inherent difficulties with quoting) -- "Abandoning all attachment to the results of his activities, ever satisfied and independent, he performs no fruitive action, although engaged in all kinds of undertakings." How can we work towards a goal without being attached to the goal?
    I think your goal of teaching college students is fantastic. I feel you would be a great teacher, just by reading your posts. You explain things so well. I envy your future students. Happiness and peace.

    1. Thanks so much Dan, for your kind comment, and for sharing your past experiences here with me. Wow! 100 hours a week- I can't even imagine!

      Your advice about going with the flow is very good. I think one of the issues I am having right now is finding balance and taking time to just breathe! I think my husband is worried about me, so he keeps asking about what I am doing, where I am applying, etc. He is concerned because he wants me to reach my full potential, and not back away from what I have accomplished.

      But this does put pressure on me, even if it is well-intended. My husband is of course not the only one, even well-meaning questions from family and friends about what I am doing now also create pressure. I have spoken to my husband about this and told him that I am not going to rush into a decision about what I want to do, since that has never been my thing :) I also think that when I told him about my wish to reserve a day for a stay-at-home retreat, he realized the depth of the uncertainty I am experiencing, and has encouraged me to proceed with that.

      Finally, I love the excerpt you have provided from the Bhagavad gita. It is the perfect sentiment. I already know that in working towards a goal without being attached to it, we must stay in the present moment. But it is just getting through all our mental constructs, desires, and ego that keeps most of us from doing that. Definitely a major subject for practice :) Thanks so much for your kind words about my becoming a professor- don't forget that you are also a great blog friend! :) I have dedicated my next post to everyone who so kindly commented here, please check it out if you have the time- I hope you enjoy it!

      May you be well!

  5. Hmmm...
    To begin a day, Ven. Ji Xing always says start with a smile and I agree.

    You have too much expectation and you are being expected upon too much. And so now you are being pressurized by both within and without.

    When someone sets a goal then that individual is trapping him or herself. Indeed goal for most people are important in order to achieve certain amount of happiness. Right?

    Ven. Ji Xing isn't my only teacher but there is another name Eckhart Tolle. A fantastic book he have written and I love both books.

    I do have goals in life but there are actually pretty small to me compare to my intention in life. :) I stress more on my intention then goal now. If I were to achieve my goal then it is a plus but not a must. The only thing I need to know is that daily, I do right.

    I do right as in I do not waste my time doing needless things since all of us is given 24 hours a day. I try to be conscious of my breath, try to be conscious of my body feelings and so on. I even try and read some buddhist suttas if it is available on the net.

    I know one thing that is definitely true, all big things start from small steps. Everything I do, I do it becos eventually it will lead me to somewhere I never even think of doing before.

    I know this becos I began with reading a book and now I even met a monk and bow to him 3 times. Everything begin in just reading a book 2 months ago. So if I were to have full mindfulness daily then what could happen in the future?

    Now I enjoy life as it appear and I know that even enjoying life will lead me somewhere... When I say enjoy life doesn't mean I laze around doing what I like but appreciate life that appear to me in many forms.

    As you can see, my days is full with activities and I am never worry of the future becos everything small thing I do today will lead me to a big and better future. I am not being attached to the future becos I know that future doesn't bring me happiness but the present will give me the happiness I need and want. If the future give me even more happiness then its a plus. :)

    Peace be with you sister. :)

    1. Thank you so much Xenusfreeman, for the kind words and advice. I think you are very wise in focusing on intention rather than individual goals. It is perfectly okay to have goals, but as you mention, they can trap you. Intention is what helps us live a good and righteous life, which is so important! And the only way to live that intention is to think and act skillfully in the present moment, which you also so wisely state.

      Thank you so much for helping me adjust my priorities and focus on what matters most in life!

      May you be well!

  6. I haven't graduated, but I sort of know how you feel. I haven't been able to get a summer job so far, and I think deep down I just wanted a break.

    I'd recommend just trying something. If anything catches your attention, like "oh that would be a fun thing" like volunteering somewhere, then at least you're doing something.

    1. Hello Layla, thank you so much for your comment! I apologize for the delay in responding- I did not see this comment until now.

      I really appreciate the empathy you've expressed here, and for your advice. I think that volunteering is a great idea, and already have some good prospects lined up. Now I just need to take the plunge! And good luck with finding a summer job, if that is what you desire!

  7. You probably know or have been told that what you really need is patience. But what is patience according to Buddhism? Patience is the third of the so-called six perfections - generosity, ethics, patience, perseverance,concentration (meditation), wisdom. I happen to think the six are realized in order. This means once we are generous and open our hearts to others we begin to live more ethically and as we begin to live more ethically so we develop patience and so on right up to developing wisdom. So in order for you to experience greater patience you should also at least be generous and to a certain degree ethical in your life.

    I think patience is really living without expectations about the future so it helps to live in the present and develop mindfulness.

    1. Dear Michael John Smith,

      Thank you so much for your insightful comment. Through your keen analysis of the six perfections, you have really opened my eyes to the fact that true patience must be fueled by generosity, and as you say open my heart to others. That is some great stuff, and something that I will remember.

      Thanks so much for your beneficial advice.

      May you be well and happy!


Thank you so much for taking the time to stop by and leave a comment! If you enjoyed this post, please share with others. -With Metta, Renata