I know I shouldn’t be making this judgment but, I was a complete failure in my practice while I was in Las Vegas. Now, that being said and putting the dramatics of my ego aside I know I let my desires get the best of me. We all have desires that’s natural; Financial desires, emotional desires, sexual desires, physical desires. In Buddhism our practice is to control these desires and eventually realize that our true peace comes from the cessation of these desires that ultimately bring us pain. So, how do we do this? Well, I’m still working on that.
I had quite a bit of time alone in Vegas. At times it allowed me some quiet contemplation. But mostly it allowed me boredom and some bouts of depression. I have to admit here that as a Buddhist that contemplates impermanence I have never been very good with change. I don’t do well in changes of routine, changes in lifestyle, changes in how things operate as I am used to. Of course, I don’t let that stop me. Because as an ironic twist I am a lover of adventure. I love to explore and observe. And that’s what I did to help jar me out of my malaise when I was alone.
In Vegas my solitary adventures often took me to the Las Vegas Strip. The center of this hotbed of sin and degradation in the middle of the desert. I say this with a grand helping of sarcasm. I love the strip. But, where most go to the strip to gamble I went to the malls and walked through the hotels. Fashion Show Mall, The Forum Shops, The Shops of the Grand Canal. I went to them all and wandered in and out of stores. I found things I wanted and knew I couldn’t have because they were ridiculously overpriced. I found things that were on sale and I immediately jumped and bought them. Hats, shorts, shirts, headphones, a charger, a mug; it was retail therapy at its most obvious. In the moment I didn’t care. I talked myself out of items to find my self back in the store an hour later purchasing the very product I’d talked myself out of. I’d get back to where I was staying, purchases in hand and wonder to myself, “was all of this really necessary?”
NOOOOOO, it was not necessary. It was me trying to cure my loneliness and mild depression of the changes I was experiencing. It also didn’t help that I was lax in my meditation practice. These events merged to form a perfect storm of shopping until I dropped. While I was in Vegas I blogged about the importance of maintaining your meditation practice while on vacation. But, that post was the perfect example of, “do as I say, not as I do”. I recognize that much of this could have been avoided if I had stuck with my meditation or stepped it up and meditated more often. Sadly, I did not.
As a Buddhist and as someone who is working very diligently not to be so hard on myself I should not be passing judgement. As I work back into my full meditation practice, now that I’m home, I should and will focus on how to avoid these emotional pitfalls in the future. Treat your practice the way your GPS device treats you. (I love this analogy and I admit fully that I stole it from Dr. Oz and his co-author on many books Dr. Michael Roizan). Your GPS calmly gives you directions. If you miss a turn it does not scream at you, “YOU STUPID FOOL! LOOK WHAT YOU DID, YOU MISSED THE TURN! YOU’VE ALWAYS BEEN SUCH AN IDIOT!” Instead the GPS simply tells you, without any judgement whatsoever, “at the next available opportunity make a U-Turn and proceed to the proper path.” Simple right? When you make a wrong turn in your practice don’t beat yourself up, simply make the U-Turn, without judgement, and return to your proper path. You must treat yourself gently with love. That is what I am currently working on now that I’ve returned to my regular daily routine. I am trying to remain mindful of where I needed adjustments to my practice and aware that I do not and must not beat myself up over my behavior. So, I now tell myself and anyone else that is struggling the way I am…
…welcome back to the path.
- The 8 Awakenings (endlesslightandlove.com)
- Conquer Desire or Misdirected Desire? (maverickphilosopher.typepad.com)
- Becoming a Buddhist (prixiescrib.wordpress.com)
- Impermanence: What Does it Really Mean? (bloggingisaresponsibility.wordpress.com)