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Life's transitional periods

Life's transitional periods
Answer
8/2/19 12:15 PM
Hi all,

Hope you're doing well. I recently lost my job mid-April and have been going through a transitional period and was wondering what advice you guys would have for me on how to move forward in my life. I'd appreciate input from dhamma practitioners who have gone through similar experiences of losing their job unexpectedly, etc. A bit of background on my practice: I am a Goenka practitioner. I've been on three 10 days and various three days over the past 6 years and currently have been meditating for an hour a day 4-5 days/week. My last 10-day retreat was over Christmas/New Years from 2016-2017. I experienced A&P on my last retreat and believe I made it through the DN on retreat to low EQ. My awareness tends to move from object to object without my control. I bvelieve my lack of consistent practice and retreat time may have thrown me back down into the DN. My practice has been less than ideal, and if anything, this period has taught me that no matter how bad my external circumstances are, the suffering I experience is only multiplied when I don't have a strong practice. Not to mention, I have a lot to be grateful for even though I am jobless. I can still eat three meals a day, be relatively comfortable, and live a privileged life compared to most in the world.

My real questions are on how to move forward with my life and what advice you guys have. I am currently living by myself in a one-bedroom apartment and there are spans of multiple days where I forego human contact because it is not built into my routine. I can tell that this has not been good on my mental health. I've also been engaging in craving and pleasure seeking a lot more than normal. This all seems to stem from the fact that I am craving the idea of "having a job" very much. I've even gone so far as to lie on my resume and invent a nonexistent business to cover the fact that I was unemployed for 9 months right after college until March of 2015. I am aware that a lot of this behavior breaks my sila, which reduces my concentration, which prevents me from being equanimous. Yesterday, I spent a lot of the day reading dhamma materials and realized that I have been multiplying my suffering by not focusing on my practice in this transitional phrase. I made a resolution yesterday to ramp my practice back up to 2hrs/day and fix my resume to be more accurate and honest so I am not lying in every application. I'm going to focus on concentration for at least a week and then transition back into body scanning.

I would very much like to go on retreat, but I feel like that's running away from my responsibilities of supporting myself. Going away for 10 days would put a huge dent in my job search momentum and eliminate my current source of income that is keeping me afloat (unemployment benefits). I currently live across the country from rest of my family. I am 27 years old and my parents are willing to support me in this transition, and have even offered to let me move back home while I figure things out. However, a large part of me feels that it is irresponsible for someone of my age to rely on their parents for support and would prefer to resolve the situation independently.

My plan so far to move forward is: refocus on my daily practice and attend weekly group sittings and one day retreats coming up in my area. Redo my resume to be more honest so that I am not breaking sila when I talk to people about my job experience. Continue looking for a job while maintaining strong daily practice. If I can't find a position by September 31st, move back home and attend the next 10 day retreat I can.

For my resume to not look terrible, I still need to stretch the truth a bit and show that I worked at a friend's company right out of college until my next job. It's not outright lying as I did work at the company for a few weeks, but it wasn't a good fit so I quit after a few weeks. Technically, this breaks sila but I just don't see how anyone would hire me if I had an eight month gap on my resume and the only real explanation I had was that I tried to start a business and it didn't work out and I did nothing.

Thoughts? Does this plan make sense? Anything you guys think I'm missing? Any advice on how to be honest about periods of inactivity professionally?

Metta,
Maher

RE: Life's transitional periods
Answer
8/2/19 8:42 PM as a reply to Maher K.
I think it's not a bad idea to use hard times in your life as a dharma catalyst, but do it responsibly. Be aware and metacognitive of the risks so that if you fail, you fail gracefully. You're 27, currently one of the most transitionary, potentially fruitful, potentially perilous points in life. You're also facing pivots in your career and maybe romantic life and a culture that says you must do X, Y, Z before you turn 30 to be a 'success' in life. 

So my advice is to use this opportunity to practice, but remember this path treats the disease, sometimes at the cost of temporarily increasing the symptoms. And it is a marathon, not a sprint. If you need at any point to treat the symptoms before you can continue the journey to end the disease, there is no shame in that. Be gentle with yourself, but be vigorous in your practice. Know when to put on the gas and when the brakes. You can't force progress, only encourage it.

Best of luck and metta, fellow traveller!