Journey to Moderation

Moderation is a state of consciousness.  We cultivate moderation when we avoid extremes in our thoughts, feelings and actions.  A moderate person is not driven by uncontrollable urges, phobias, fetishes, obsessions, or addictions.  S/he does not give credence to conspiracy theories, rigid or authoritarian ideas, or extreme religious or political beliefs.   S/he seeks to find a balance is all areas of life.  S/he does not live on the edges of life but seeks the middle, invites compromise and cooperation and tries to find common ground. 

Opposite States of Consciousness:   Immoderation, extreme ideas or beliefs, uncontrollable feelings, addictive or obsessive actions.  A person who lacks moderation may experience bi-polar swings of emotion, and various types of phobias or obsessions.  S/he may exhibit grandiosity, megalomania, narcissism, sado-masochism, and other personality disorders.  S/he may be drawn to cults or fringe groups that demand obedience to some cause or charismatic leader.  A person who lacks moderation Is emotionally unstable and lacks an ability to center and find balance in life.  

The Teaching

Many of us believe that more is better.  But sometimes more money, more sex, more food, more booze, more surfing the internet can be addictive and ultimately unsatisfying.  In order for us to regain our health and equilibrium less may better than more.   When we consume less we do so out of the awareness that our consumption has been out of control and we have to get a handle on it.  We need to establish healthy limits for ourselves.
     On the other hand, having less than we need is not healthy either.  If we don’t have enough money or food or sex we can feel deprived and we can be driven to seek more at any cost.  This crosses boundaries that should not be crossed.      
     Having too much and too little are unhealthy.  It is far better to have “just enough” for our needs to be met.  That way we take nothing for granted and stay aware and alert to potential addictions.
    When we live in moderation, we do not consume too little or too much.  We take what we need and give any excess back to others. We find balance and harmony in our lives and do not fall prey to the physical dis-eases and psychological maladies associated with under or over-consumption.
     Moderation is also important when it comes to our ideas and beliefs.  A moderate person knows that every coin has two sides and avoids one-sided approaches because they lack balance and fairness
     A moderate person listens to both sides of the argument and then decides.  Where possible, s/he tries to find areas of common ground.  When disagreements exist, s/he ties to find ways for both sides to compromise. In all of this there is a trust in dialog and negotiation, a sense that both parties have some insight to contribute and that the best decisions are made when both sides of an issue are heard.
     In all fields of life – in politics, religion, and social life – moderation is the key to creating balance and inclusion.   There is room for everyone to have their own perspective and beliefs as long as they respect the beliefs and perspectives of others.
     Seeing both sides of the coin, hearing both sides of the argument, does not require agreement, but it does require mutual respect.  We can disagree with others without questioning their integrity or attacking them personally.
     People who lack moderation often cross boundaries and attack people who have different beliefs or cultural perspectives.  They blame, shame, and slander others because they feel threatened by differences.  They do not understand that the freedoms and the rights they would take away from others will one day be taken from them if their attacks succeed.
     The inability to accept differences in race, religion, culture, gender and other forms of social identity leads to totalitarian governments that restrict freedoms, and undermine or suppress human rights.   You can see this happening across the globe. 
     On the individual level, any extreme idea or obsessive emotion creates fear and lack of safety for others. That is why we all need to take responsibility for our thoughts, feelings, and actions.   No one else is responsible for what we say or do.
If the words that come out of our mouths are hateful, if our actions are harmful to others, we need to understand that we are out of control and get help before it is too late. 
     If we have addictive behaviors and abuse drugs, alcohol, food, or other substances we may destroy our health and alienate the people we love.  If we are rage-aholics or are physically abusive, we might hurt someone we love.  Or if we are silent and tolerate abuse from our partner we might get seriously hurt or put our children at risk.     
     Before we go off the deep end and lose control, or allow someone else to melt down, we need to get help, call up a friend or a 12-step sponsor, dial 911 or a help hotline, find a therapist or enter a treatment program.
     If our ideas are inflated or delusional, if our moods swing back and forth between excitement and depression, if we have various fixations or phobias, are often angry, overwhelmed or agitated, we might need to go to a doctor who can prescribe medication that will help us tone things down.
     If we are members of a cult or an authoritarian group that engages in brainwashing, mind-control, or social intimidation, we might need reach out to a family member, a former cult member, or a law enforcement officer to get help extricating ourselves from the group.
     If we believe in conspiracy theories, engage in hate speech or are drawn to para-military or terrorist groups, we are in crisis and headed for the proverbial cliff.  We need emergency assistance.   If we know someone who is in this situation, we need to consider making some kind of intervention. 
     The goal is always to stabilize and to regain balance in our lives.  Extremes in our thinking and our emotions are not healthy and create a volatile energy in our consciousness. At any point the energy can go over the edge, create a schism
or rift in the psyche, in which we dissociate and do something harmful to ourselves or others.

The Practice

Today, notice when you are consuming too little or too much.   If you have too little, ask for a little more.  If you have too much, reduce your portions.  
     Today be mindful of any extreme ideas or feelings that are coming up for you.  Notice any fixed ideas, phobias, obsessions or patterns of addiction.  Notice any strong swings of emotion, especially anger/rage or suicidal feelings. Notice when you feel overwhelmed or anxious about something.  What do you do or say when these emotions come up?
     Today, pay attention when the ground shakes for you and the volcano of emotion is about to erupt.   Can you tell when you are ready to go over the edge and say or do something that will be hurtful to yourself or others?   Can you pause and breathe?  Can you find a way to regain your balance?
     Today be mindful of any strong ideas or beliefs that you have in which you are convinced that you are right and others are wrong. Can you allow another point of view without feeling angry or threatened?  Can you see both sides of the coin, not just the one you called when the coin was flipped? 
     Even if you are right today, you may be wrong tomorrow.  Sometimes you call tails and heads comes up.  Are you a good sport or a sore loser?  Are you going to shame or attack others because they have a different experience or perspective from you?
     Can you see and accept differences, even though you are not in agreement with others?  Can you make space for everyone’s voice to be heard?  Can you be inclusive, instead of exclusive?
     Today, understand that free speech is an ideal that we aspire to, but we cannot reach our goal if we do not understand the ways in which we prevent the voices of others from being heard.  When you see yourself standing in the way of someone else’s freedom of expression, be aware that you are trespassing and step out of the way.  For the freedom you give is the freedom you will receive.
     There is something in our lives that is more important than agreement.   It is acceptance.  With acceptance, everyone can be heard, not just the ones who share our experience or point of view. 
     When we insist on agreement, rights are violated and freedoms undermined. Fascism wins over democracy. 
    Of course, we love it when we agree.  We love having our ideas and beliefs supported by others.   We might even believe that that support equates to love. But it is not so.  Love is not based on agreement.  It is based on acceptance and  mutual respect.
    When we insist on agreement, we never find a middle ground.  Extremes dominate.  Intolerance prevails. Conflict continues in our hearts and in our world.
     It is time for us as a society to let go of the tyranny of agreement and let acceptance and tolerance of differences be the foundation of our discourse.   Then we will not objectify/dehumanize each other or seek to justify our attack. 
     When we build our foundation on acceptance, moderation is the rule.  Moderation helps us find integration in our consciousness, and health and well- being in our bodies and minds.   It helps us find balance and harmony in our family and our community.  It helps us to tolerate differences, find common ground and experience equality in our interactions with each other.  

Journaling Question

Where do you need to bring moderation into your life? in which ways do you have/consume too much or too little?

Audio Recording: click on the link to download the audio only file: | download audio |