Sunday, 30 September 2012

The Middle Way

Since birth I have been drawn to ‘the middle way’. A Libra, and a middle child in a “mixed” marriage, I guess I was pre-disposed.

What is the Middle way?

I guess it depends who you ask.

The phrase “everything in moderation” immediately comes to mind. It is a favorite saying of mine and many people I know. In general, I believe it is a healthy adage to live by, but  sometimes it is also necessary to be moderate in ones pursuit of moderation!!!

Buddhism is often called ‘the middle path’ or ‘way’. While not a Buddhist, I do follow the teachings and writings of many who are. The interpretation that speaks to me is mindfulness; responding to what is happening in the moment, rather than from dogma, habit, or preconditioned expectations.  

The Buddhist intention: not too much attachment or too much aversion also comes to mind. Awesome intention- but hard to put into daily life!!!!

Yoga also is often perceived to be a middle of the road practice as well with its emphasis on acceptance and not-attachment. Yet, the path of yoga can be quite extreme in its requirements, depending on how the teachings are interpreted. In addition, different styles of yoga often contradict each other when it comes to alignment or what is recommended on a particular path of healing. Many of my yoga teachers over the years have been definite in their beliefs and protocols and yet very few of these wise and well respected people actually agree on what those protocols are.

This just strengthens my belief in the middle way!!!
Each one has something brilliant to offer. My job is to listen to my own inner wisdom and discern which is right for me. That being said, others would say that I am watering down wise teachings- that in order for transformation to occur you must you pick a path and stick to it. 

 Which voice to follow?

There is a popular Buddhist teaching that says: if two students are walking down the road- one will be told, go a little to the left and the other a little to the right. This teaching is a teaching on the middle way- Both  instructions are accurate for what is necessary in that moment for each individual and include the recognition that to bring the whole system into balance- what is required in the moment may not feel like a to move towards centre.
It is common to encounter resistance and uncertainty when we are asked to change a pattern or a habit. Often the recommended steps feel quite dramatic or extreme- they feel out of balance. A great example is learning Tadasana. When most of us first learn how to stand in Tadasana (Mountain pose) it feels foreign, and off centre- when in reality the sensation is the body getting used to a new equilibrium.

Knowing that change feels strange-how do we know if an uncomfortable feeling is an old familiar patterns causing resistance or something genuinely not for us!!??

Sometimes checking things out with a trusted teacher or friend can be helpful and necessary.

Ultimately we can develop the capacity to follow our own inner wisdom by continually returning to the present moment- and checking in

·         pause 
·         tune into the surroundings
·         feel the breath 
·         feel the body sensations
·         open to the wisdom of the body and the moment
·         rest
The result is a few moments of presence, a brief opportunity to connect to our own experience within the larger whole. 
From here the path may be clear. In my experience rather than a definitive answer, I encounter a greater willingness to be okay with uncertainty. 
I am more likely to accept the situation and move forward from a place of curiosity and compassion instead of doubt and fear: to walk the middle way.



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