The Middle Path


The Middle Path

With one week left of a 30-day vow to either give something up, or add something positive into our lives, we’re finding that life doesn’t always go to plan, but often in the best possible way.

What many of us are discovering is that more important than the vow itself is our attitude to it. If not coming from love then it doesn’t matter how perfectly we uphold our commitment, and if coming from love then it’s OK if we stumble sometimes.The days that we forgot, or cheated, or lost it, have been in many ways more valuable than the days we got it right, because they’ve showed us in intimate detail the nature of our relationship with ourselves.

The words ‘Middle Path’ keep repeating in my head. That’s really what it is. The Middle Path, the Way between two extremes. Not so disciplined as to create stress or tension, nor so relaxed as to get stuck in one place without growth.

Growth asks us to challenge ourselves… to not get too comfy with the limited identities we’ve carved out. To keep saying “but that’s just how I am” is not always good enough if that way of being keeps hurting us. So we learn instead to sit with our discomfort, and shine awareness on our shadows. To extend our boundaries and lean over our own edges. To discipline the habits that keep us in repetitive loops of action/reaction, contraction and fear.

To go against the grain of our natural tendencies can be really hard, and for most of us something that needs to happen gradually. If you force a flower to open it will tear. Much patience is needed on this path of unfolding, and the willingness to accept ourselves just as we are, each step of the way.

Pema Chodron puts it so well here:

“Over time, as the thinking mind begins to settle [through the practice of meditation], we’ll start to see our patterns and habits far more clearly. This can be a painful experience. I can’t overestimate the importance of accepting ourselves exactly as we are right now, not as we wish we were or think we ought to be. By cultivating nonjudgmental openness to ourselves and to whatever arises, to our surprise and delight we will find ourselves genuinely welcoming the never-pin-downable quality of life, experiencing it as a friend, a teacher, and a support, and no longer as an enemy.”

This never-pin-downable quality of life is what I love and hate most about being human. I love all the mystery and magic – the synchronicities and serendipitous encounters that regularly blow my mind and heart and leave me no choice but to believe in God/Love. I also hate all the mystery and magic – the painful unpredictability that makes it hard to know sometimes if I’m heading in the right direction.

I see a persistent desire in me, despite all spiritual knowledge and belief to the contrary, to one day find The Way, The Path, The Place, in which I will finally have my life ‘under control’ – where I will always know the right thing to do, say, and be, and where everyone will love me, all of the time.

That desire, decoded, says this: Only when I’m perfect will I be worthy of love and acceptance. I can love myself, sure, but only as long as I never make a mistake.

Vows can easily arise from this desire – to control and perfect ourselves in the hope that when we’ve done so we’ll finally be worthy of love. And that’s why failure is such a great teacher, because it’s only when we’re in the shit that we can learn to love ourselves right here where we are. It’s only when we’re bawling on the shower floor that we learn what it means to be our own best friend. It’s not our strength, but our weakness, that’s begging to be accepted.

Besides a love affair with my mantra practice, this month is all about acceptance for me. And I’ve only just realised that today. It’s about finding what my middle path looks like. It’s about living and learning and earning and cherishing the truth as I understand it, one day at a time.

It’s about slowly, gradually, choosing to withdraw my energy from the kind of thinking and behaviour that makes me contract or close my heart. Sometimes I can, and sometimes I can’t.

It’s about striving to be in the service of Love, as I meanwhile accept myself just as I am, a human with flaws and fears and neuroses, prone to jealousy, greed and confusion. To not let these things cripple me or invalidate my gifts, but use them as fodder for insight and growth. Like a wise and loving mother, sometimes we need to discipline the hungry child within, and sometimes we need to feed her something sweet, warm, and nourishing, with the utmost care and patience.

“It’s not the perfect but the imperfect that is in need of our love”  ~ Oscar Wilde

Om Namo Narayani – May She slowly but surely guide us all Home