I don't meditate. Mostly, I don't have time for that nonsense. And yet time and again I come across its many benefits, both spiritually (less me) and scientifically (more me). So while I have in the past flippantly replied, "I meditate when I walk," (and I have been walking on average 12-miles a day the last six weeks or so) I have often wondered if I was missing something with the whole quieting the mind thing. Not that I cared enough find out.
But in turning page after page of the Shambhala Sun I picked up at the bookstore a couple of weekends ago, I am struck by two things; one - meditation is the most successful way to be mindful, and two - the scenario running I endlessly engage in is one aspect of what people who meditate strive for.
As usual, this information is extremely timely, especially given my own thoughts on the matter from my extremely limited Jesus-perspective:
...ever since Christ said, "So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot I will spue thee out of my mouth," I've been walking the narrow path between two camps of hotheads everywhere I go. No matter what the subject of conversation is, NO ONE WANTS TO BE SPEWED FROM JESUS' MOUTH. They therefore run full hot, or full cold...
Pema Chödrön says, "Though the teachings point us in the direction of diminishing our [strong conflicting emotions], calling ourselves "bad" because we have strong conflicting emotions is not helpful. That just causes negativity and suffering to escalate. What helps is to train again and again in not acting out our [strong conflicting emotions] with speech and actions, and also in not repressing them or getting caught in guilt. The traditional instruction is to find the middle way between the extreme views of indulging—going right ahead and telling people off verbally or mentally—and repressing: biting your tongue and calling yourself a bad person...We routinely think we have to go to one extreme or the other, either acting out or repressing."
Because we are all different creatures, explaining to someone else how to be mindful is a dicey proposition - what works for us may not work for someone else. Outside of the act of meditation you may notice Ms. Chödrön doesn't tell us how to find The Middle Path only that we each must seek it. And yet I find I use mindfulness very nearly daily to differentiate between two seemingly disparate emotions or thoughts.
My first brush with The Middle Way made sense to me intellectually, but applying it to emotional reactions appeals to the practical. I crave the straits between the two camps of hot-heads, especially when both camps justify their extremist behavior through something as subjective as belief. As I mentioned recently to the uninitiated,
The beauty and effectiveness of critical thinking isn't in knowing everything about everything. Its about identifying limitations in conceptions and seeking alternatives :)
Even if I don't immediately know where the middle ground lies between polar viewpoints, I do know it exists. And that alone is of great comfort to me.