I’m not sure why exactly, but these posts are the hardest to write out of all the regular features. I wake up every Tuesday morning having no idea what I’m going to write about, and by the time I start to work on the post, I’ve typically written and then rejected at least 2-3 ideas. But it always works out, something always comes to me and it’s “right.” This is further evidence that much of art is about showing up and being open to what happens.
1. Truth: There is a middle path, a middle way. This is another one of those concepts that is from Buddhism, but one doesn’t have to be Buddhist to see the wisdom in it. The middle path, the middle way is balance, evenness, equanimity, calm, clarity, wisdom, insight, ease, natural, and organic–it is freedom.
It is not too loose, not too tight. It is not extremes or fundamentalism. It is between the extremes of addiction to indulgence in sense-pleasures and addiction to self-mortification, between attachment and aversion to pleasure and pain, between self-indulgence and self-denial, between hedonism and asceticism. The middle way, the middle path is neither overindulging in the pleasure of the world or rejecting it’s goodness. It’s the “but this one is just right” moment that Goldilocks discovers again and again in the story of The Three Bears.
2. Truth: Every person has their own middle, and must discover it for themselves. “Everyone practices in order to find out for him- or herself personally how to be balanced, how to be not too tight and not too loose. No one else can tell you. You just have to find out for yourself,” (Pema Chödrön).
For example, I push to get more done, make improvements, keep working, harder, faster, better–but this is too tight. I burn out from this way of being, and I slip into sickness, exhaustion, numbness, laziness, and depression–and this is too loose. I have to learn what balance is, where the middle way is for me. No one else can tell me. I have to find out for myself.
We can’t use other people’s measures, external criteria for what is enough, for who we should be and what we should do. We don’t need to look outside ourselves for validation, acceptance, permission, and love. We can get still and quiet, practice and pray and meditate and listen, learn to love ourselves, to settle in to our middle.
3. Truth: The middle is not a fixed location. Where my middle path is today might shift tomorrow, or even in the next moment. It will shift with time and circumstance. Age, physical ability, knowledge, skill, practice, and understanding will all move the middle. We need to maintain mindfulness, be aware of the shifts, the twists and turns, the change in weather and speed and slope and strength, and we need to adjust our exertion and rest and route when necessary.
One Wish: That you may find your middle path, and through continued mindfulness and ease, remain on it. I wish for all of us that we find our middle, where we don’t feel the need to grasp or hold on to or reject or run away from the reality of our experience. I wish that we all, on our middle path, move through our lives fully present and able to work with whatever arises, skillfully and compassionately. May we all be free.