middle path

middle path

I sit here, sick once more (this makes at least 3 times this year-a record, and perhaps a consequence of working in health care?), contemplating everything.  And then there is this Mary Oliver quote that shows up, thanks to a friend:  “Pay attention. Be astonished. And tell about it. We’re soaked in distractions. The world didn’t have to be beautiful. We can and should think about that beauty and be grateful."  This reminded me of the myriad of "distractions" that pull us away from practice-illness definitely being one of them! Work seems to be a distraction, at times, but other times, seems to be a part of the practice.  It all depends on the mindset or perception. Or as Krishna reminds us in the Bhagavad Gita, our work can become a part of our service, if done without attachment to the results of that work.

But when our distractions pull us AWAY from the beauty of the world instead of magnetically pulling us TOWARDS it, that is when maybe we've drifted.  There seems to be a lot of distractions lately-the election, the weather, the everyday dramas.  But aren't they always there? Isn't there always a distraction just waiting around the corner to pull us away from our mats, our cushions, and our connection to the Divine and the world around us? As I've stated in previous posts, we always have a choice on how we spend our 24 hours each day. When I choose to watch more coverage of the storm that devastated the East Coast recently over 15 minutes of pranayama or meditation, is that distraction or just being aware of the activities in the world? What if that 15 minutes starts to turn into an hour?

Again, I draw my mind back to balance, to moderation, to the "middle path." I have no background in Buddhist teachings, so this is not the the definition of that capitalized version, with quotes from Buddhist text to support my views. This is my version of staying balanced on a path that is lacking in extremes: the extreme of hiding in a cave, immersed in meditation, not knowing what is happening beyond that which is immediately surrounding oneself; or the opposite extreme of spending 10 hours a day watching the news about all the dramas surrounding the external material world and its politics. As always, I choose somewhere in between, leaning more towards the center. I choose moderation. I choose to live in the world (as tempting as that cave sometimes feels), yet not get too attached to the unfolding drama. I often fall off the middle path towards the extremes.  But my aim is to keep coming back to that path.  And along the way, I hope to "pay attention and be astonished." I hope to continue noticing the Light within the Darkness and to see the beauty in both a calm, clear, sunny day or a devastating hurricane.

The more I write, the more questions I have.  And the more I realize I do not know. Which I am so grateful for.... to be continued.

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