Walking The Middle Path

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 By Dennis Merritt Jones

„When we are out of balance in one area of our lives, it shows up in other areas of our lives, too. We might not recognize it, or understand that the two things are related, but one thing affects the other nonetheless.

We might attempt to "fix" the second thing, but if we don't fix the first thing, the thing that caused it to get out of balance in the first place, it will just come back again. And usually, we end up with so many little imbalances that we don't know which came first. We could spend years working on symptoms, but until we get to the cause, the root of the imbalance, then we're wasting our time." -- Lissa Coffey, The Perfect Balance Diet: 4 Weeks to a Lighter Body, Mind, Spirit & Space

 

As Buddha sat under the Bodhi Tree waiting for enlightenment, two musicians were arguing about the sound they were trying to get from their stringed instrument and distracted him. He was weak and tired from not eating or taking care of his body, but he wanted to see what was causing the commotion, and so he dragged himself closer to hear them. One musician would tighten the strings and the other would cry, "Not too tight because you will break the string." The other would counter by saying, "Not too loose because the string will only buzz and rattle -- in the middle is just right."

 

The master heard the wisdom contained in their argument and declared, "That's it! That's the key... perfect balance!" Not too tight yet not too loose, not too high yet not too low, not too in yet not too out. The middle path is the way! Of course, an entire teaching has evolved from this idea of a middle pathway; one that has affected millions of lives in a very positive way.

 

Suffice it to say, excessiveness in any area of our lives can prove to be unproductive if not damaging. The Buddha himself had ignored the well-being of his body while trying to free his mind. It caused him to be extremely out of balance. Have you ever had a tendency to be excessive in some area of your life? If you are mindful you'll notice that that excessiveness led to imbalance in other areas of your life. Life is energy flowing in certain directions, which we determine by means of our intentions and priorities. If we spread that energy out, allowing it to flow in too many directions at the same time, we become cause to our own effect of an imbalanced life. In other words, if your life is out of balance in one area it will be out of balance in other areas as well; it's a domino affect.

Many people direct their energy so excessively in one way, ignoring the many other aspects of their lives, that it ultimately catches up with them, making them emotionally unstable or ill. This is a universal principle with which we can all relate: Some people devote so much time to their work that they forget what it means to play, relax, and spend time with loved ones. Others play so much that they don't know what it is to work. Some people seem to have total disregard for their body temple when it comes to diet and exercise, while others are so obsessed with their diets and bodies that they don't know what it is to take a break and enjoy a day without beating themselves up physically or emotionally. And then there are those who are so "enthusiastic" about their spiritual practices that they don't do anything else, while others could use a bit more spirituality in their daily lives.

 

Do you see yourself in any part of this description of imbalance? If so, perhaps seeking the middle path is a practice you may want to explore. Perfect balance: It means not too much, not too little... in the middle is just right. Living a balanced life will produce a life of wholeness and deep inner peace. As a mindfulness practice, consider these six areas of your life as strings on an instrument you play daily: spirituality, physical health, emotional health, relationships, prosperity and job satisfaction, and free time and self-expression. Invest some time today in exploring which of these strings may be in need of tightening and which may need loosening. Make a commitment to fine tune your instrument on a daily basis -- you'll be amazed at how harmonious your life is when it is in perfect balance.

 

*Portions of this writing are an excerpt from my book, The Art of Being -- 101 Ways to Practice Purpose In Your Life, used with permission.

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