Maintaining Moderation Requires Graceful Shifting

For me, moderation is elusive. I struggle for balance—the measure of moderation—at times, my struggling is painful.  When I become aware of pain, however, is when I cease suffering from it. I aim for even on the day I have rather than going in search of the day I want.

[When] balance comes of its own accord…

[it] has tremendous beauty and grace.

You have not forced it, it has simply come.

By moving gracefully to the left,

to the right, in the middle,

slowly a balance comes to you

because you remain so unidentified.

~Osho~

Osho’s words remind me of Michael Singer’s observer: “There is nothing more important to true growth than realizing that you are not the voice of the mind. You are the one who hears it” (The Untethered Soul).

I find his image of the observer quite helpful in finding the balance in any moment but especially in those where I am on the edge of right or dropping off far left.  As the observer, I have an immediate distance and thus, a broader perspective much like what happens in writing.

The thoughts are in my mind and with my fingers on the keyboard I search for consonants and vowels to create a physical representation of the thought.

The distance between the ever evolving thought and its concrete representation—the word(s)—moves me closer to the center. I am not identifying with the left or the right as I move to the center–not always with grace, I admit.

ocean pine 0215

That may be the overall process of moderation—each of us has our unique way with it—and at one time or another, we struggle with it. Why? We have to let go of what we have to receive what we are given. To me, that is the grace of moderation.

It means keeping the “big picture” in mind.  Whether we are discussing diet, climate change, or the world future generations will inherit. And that’s difficult to do. In terms of global issues, the big picture now looming is an ominous one.

In seeking a balance for a better world—finding moderation—we have to change the way we live, maybe even who we are. Balance—the measure of moderation—is a constant shift, an adjustment to the world as it currently exists. That will determine the world that is yet to come.

Often, the task feels overwhelming, especially if we anticipate a future we cannot know or gnash our teeth over a past that cannot be changed. All we have is the moment to gracefully move a little left or right to maintain our balance.

We begin with observing the life we know best–our own—ever aware of doing no harm to no thing, to no one. Then, we move gracefully to the right or to the left as life comes at us only to leave us. And when we leave, ultimately, both left and right are increased rather than diminished.

17 thoughts on “Maintaining Moderation Requires Graceful Shifting

  1. “Accepting with grace” is the name of an ai-chi (water tai chi) movement. It’s a move that requires balance, and it isn’t easy (even in the water). Your post reminds me of this. Stay in grace, however hard it is to balance!

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    • I had no idea, Ann! Yes, stay in grace, which is my daily struggle. Somehow, however, I take heart in knowing that even in water, it is a bit of a challenge. Thanks so much, Ann!
      Karen

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  2. Karen, I don’t think balance and moderation are the same thing–maybe they are in the way you’re using them here, which is what I would call balance. Or maybe moderation is the straight path to balance… I do desire balance but have no desire for moderation. Okay, sometimes I would like to see moderation. You know I’m full of extremes, and I’m okay with that. I will be interested in your thoughts.

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    • Perhaps from a Zen or Buddhist perspective, moderation is one of “not too tight, not too loose” or the Middle Way, a sense of calm. In the West–at least where I grew up–moderation is more associated with being just “average,” which may be seen as settling rather than striving to be one’s best. I do think balance allows us to be the best we are and thus measures us as Osho indicates, a graceful shifting without spilling over.

      These days, I am less a person of extremes, although my entire middle age was a constant back and forth. Chronic illness changed me. When I began feeling a physical difference–it first came with diet and then meditation–I found in moderation a balance through my most difficult moments. I still do.

      I really appreciate this comment, Cynthia, as I continue to explore “not too tight, not too loose.” I have been thinking about your thoughts and continue to do so. I apologize for being so tardy in my response but this last week has been a real balance challenge. Neither was I always moderate. 😉
      Karen

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  3. Pingback: Upon Closer Reflection, Comfort in Chaos | KM Huber's Blog

  4. Great post – as always, you present the essentials, thoughtfully and with an envious clarity! I agree. And I think it will be a tremendous challenge; balance and moderation are perhaps the hardest and most elusive goals for us, as individuals and as societies. They are such relative terms. And yet, as you say, it is essential that we find these virtues in ourselves first. If we all did so, I think we’d find that society would find it too, albeit perhaps in a different way. It really is becoming essential for humanity.

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    • Thank you, Matthew! If you happened to read the other comments, you’ll note what I realize about the chaos that is in balance. My next post discusses what that meant to me. As you say, moderation and balance are essential and maybe the only way we can begin is to recognize the chaos that is in balance, which is akin to the impermanence of life. Nothing in life stays so we balance, we moderate for the moment we have and not for those yet to come. I think there is something in this. Physically, it has proven to be true for me. Again, thank you, Matthew!
      Karen

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  5. Sometimes, though, it seems we must scream loudly as the collective, instead of finding balance, rushes right off the cliff. Sometimes the comfortable peace of balance has to be replaced by the discomfort of trying to force change–your mention of the state of our planet brought on this thought. I so want us to wake up and take care of this beautiful place and time is running short.

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    • Yes, Adrian, and the moment is all we ever have to awaken. In each moment, there is a balance belonging only to that moment. In the shifting of right and left, we regain our balance. It won’t stay for nothing in life does. It seems we must learn to shift in the chaos of each moment–I think that is the ability of having reverence for all life. Your comment has had me thinking for awhile, and as I mentioned to Kay, I recognized that I now assume an ongoing chaos as part of balance. Perhaps another post. Thanks so much, Adrian, truly!
      Karen

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  6. I love your insights Karen, especially about being the observer. When we step back its easier to find our center and our middle ground.
    True balance is only found in the present moment, when we let go of our thinking about left and right and future and past 😉

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  7. I really liked what you said about not being the voice of the mind, but the one who hears it. the mind seems to wander all over the place and act up at times, and often beyond our control. But when we identify as the listener, we reach a higher understanding of our true identity. thanks for that insight!

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    • I read Michael Singer sometime ago–shortly after I had begun meditating or was trying to–it was the image of his observer that allowed me some distance from “monkey mind.” I agree that in observing, we are not “attached” to the voice in or out of the meditative state. Thanks so much, Craig!
      Karen

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  8. I think balance is particularly hard for creative types–because some of the best works come from souls who tip the scales one way or another. And yet, balance is surely the most peaceful and healthy choice. A conundrum:).

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    • Balance seems to imply a reverence for all life is what I have come to believe. I am reminded of Suzuki’s words regarding Buddha nature: This is how everything exists in the realm of Buddha nature, losing its balance against a background of perfect balance. In reading through the comments and then re-reading the post, I just realized I assume an ongoing chaos playing out against a “background of perfect balance.” To me, balance is ever-shifting, impermanent. Your comment (and Adrian’s) helped me see how I have shifted in my view of balance. Truly, thank you, Kay!
      Karen

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  9. Thank you for writing, once again, about grace and moderation. I am just home from a month away and bombarded by ‘to do’ and ‘oh my sewing machine’. Your post reminds me to breathe.

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    • And in the breath is life, coming and going only to return again and again. I, too, find the act of breathing as a way to make me aware of the existing moment. In my awareness, I am able to respond to what is required of me in the moment I have. Thanks, Beth!
      Karen
      P.S. Welcome home!

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