Inundated with all the stress of being a high school junior, I found myself at age seventeen feeling deeply unfulfilled in my daily life. I was constantly in a state of urgency and anxiety, and never felt like there was enough time in the day to appreciate or enjoy life.
All of us have regrets: A poor decision. A selfish action. An angry outburst. It may be something that only impacts you--or it may have far-reaching consequences for friends, family, even the world at large. Guess what? It doesn't matter.
Growing up in a Buddhist family in Virginia in the '80s, I was often on the defensive about my family's beliefs. It was not unusual to be shunned by other kids because I did not believe in God the same way they'd been taught in church.
The reason I choose to call the eightfold path an advanced teaching is that, while the definitions of each of the practices are relatively easy to teach and understand, their full application and integration takes a lifetime.
Whether it is the internal or external sense of being "maxed out," what is often helpful is to seek a larger landscape in which to hold one's experience. This is not only a skillful means of coping with difficulty, but it is also an aspect of mindfulness and awareness.
In the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, according to the Dalai Lama, a person should closely observe a teacher for three years before consenting to be his/her student. It takes that long, apparently, to clearly differentiate Mara from Buddha.
One of the core principles of Tibetan Buddhism is that all phenomena, all experience, is essentially free of enduring, sharply delineated characteristics. We have the potential to experience anything. And anything has the potential to arise within our experience.