Living in the Middle

What does it mean to be Living in the Middle? Quite a bit, actually. For some, it’s easy and tempting, these days and at our age (!), to go with the whiny, struggling, negative, ain’t it awful, and gosh, it’s hard…

Others choose to take a spiritual bypass, say it’s all just ephemeral anyway, and go for transcendence, as best they can. Even if we don’t totally bypass, the new age-y versions of sticking with affirmations, focusing only on the good, our oneness, our interconnectedness… Hmmm…that’s one-sided too, and doesn’t do justice to the rich, full, fear-and joy-laden concoction that life is.

Pema Chodron, that inspiring, learned Buddhist scholar offers some help for Living in the Middle, in her article in Tricycle, The In-Between State. Here’s an excerpt for your consideration:

“We are told about the pain of chasing after pleasure and the futility of running from pain. We hear also about the joy of awakening, of realizing our interconnectedness, of trusting the openness of our hearts and minds. But we aren’t told all that much about this state of being in-between, no longer able to get our old comfort from the our side but not yet dwelling in a continual sense of equanimity and warmth.

Living in the Middle

Anxiety, heartbreak, and tenderness mark the in-between state.  It’s the kind of place we usually want to avoid.  The challenge is to stay in the middle rather than buy into struggle and complaint.  The challenge is to let it soften us rather than make us more rigid and afraid.  Becoming intimate with the queasy feeling of being in the middle of nowhere only makes our hearts more tender.  When we are brave enough to stay in the middle, compassion arises spontaneously.  By not knowing, not hoping to know, and not acting like we know what’s happening, we begin to access our inner strength.  

Got it! The In-Between State, Living in the Middle, is the perfect training ground for the Spiritual Warrior! 

I’ve been living in the middle, willy nilly, for some time now, with challenges all around, in the lives of my family, close friends, doctor’s appointments with implications for both me and my husband. I’ve written about some of the ways I’ve found that help me to be with it all, hold it all, to keep living in the middle: Keeping an Open Heart; Midnight Mind, Monkey Mind and Holding It All to name a few.

Today, as I am with those going though radical ups and downs, I am finding Pema’s words very nourishing. Yeah for Spiritual Warriors, accessing our inner strength, learning to love!

Apropos of love and open hearts, here’s one of my favorite poem/quotes, by Courtney A. Walsh, about the messiness of living in the middle — praising “messy, sweaty crazy, broken, whole… LOVE.” 

Living in the Middle

“Dear Human: You’ve got it all wrong. You didn’t come here to master unconditional love. That is where you came from and where you’ll return. You came here to learn personal love. Universal love. Messy love. Sweaty love. Crazy love. Broken love. Whole love. Infused with divinity. Lived through the grace of stumbling. Demonstrated through the beauty of… messing up. Often.

You didn’t come here to be perfect. You already are. You came here to be gorgeously human. Flawed and fabulous. And then to rise again into remembering. But unconditional love? Stop telling that story. Love, in truth, doesn’t need ANY other adjectives. It doesn’t require modifiers. It doesn’t require the condition of perfection. It only asks that you show up. And do your best. That you stay present and feel fully. That you shine and fly and laugh and cry and hurt and heal and fall and get back up and play and work and live and die as YOU. It’s enough. It’s Plenty.”

In what ways are you Living in the Middle? How’s it goin’? I’d love to hear!

Jill Schroder is the author of BECOMING: Journeying Toward Authenticity.  BECOMING is an invitation for self-reflection, and to mine our memorable moments for insights, meaning, andgrowth.  Check the website for a sample chapter, or see the reviews to get a flavor for the volume.  Follow me on Twitter, let’s be friends on Facebook

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