Being centred, clear and balanced is simple if you remember one thing.
Getting high is the same as getting low. If you are on the roller coaster, you are going to get high, sure, but you are also going to get low. When we seek the highs, we end up getting crushed by the lows.
The secret to being centred is just to not go there. Don’t go to the peaks, don’t go to the troughs.
This doesn’t mean that you don’t feel the pull of that wave. Emotions are emotions, to not have them means not being human. It means that you don’t let the wave knock you off your feet, toss you around like a bit of driftwood and leave you stuck in a spiral rather than moving forward.
A woman in the front row scowled as I talked about the need for moderation. I was talking about recovery and as an alcoholic, she had firm ideas that abstinence was the only solution.
“You can live a good life without every having alcohol,” I said, making her nod in grudging agreement.
“But what if the mood altering, habitual prop you use isn’t booze? What if it is something like food, shopping, seduction or speed? You can’t live a good life without eating, spending, being in relationship, life it staying put.”
Abstinence is a simple solution, but we don’t live simple lives. Moderation is harder, learning how to still feel but stay centred.
It’s easy to love the sensation of being high, whatever your high comes from. For addicts, it’s never the high that kills them, it’s the low that comes after, just like it’s not the fall that kills you, it’s that sudden stop at the end.
Figuring out that you have to moderate the highs to moderate the lows is not an easy thing. For many, that sensation of being high is what gets them through, lets them avoid and stuff the real pain and challenges in their lives.
Living consciously is living in context, not for the moment, not for whatever feels good, but for some greater context, some connected understanding.
Following your bliss is about getting to a state where you feel connected and growing, not about getting high for a while and then suffering the consequences. That’s synthetic bliss, not centred bliss, something society can sell us to keep us on the consumption cycle.
Everyone understands the joy of going there. We dream of a bit of indulgence and oblivion, of immersion in the sensuous sauce. That moment is dreamy, out of mind and body, sensation to the max.
Finding a way to go there in balance, to not become addicted to the high, is always a challenge. You have to be able to say no, to stay balanced, to just not go there.
Moderation is hard, sure. But abstinence doesn’t keep us growing and indulgence just gets us lost.
The discipline to just not go there comes out of our practice, out of reshaping our habits away from sensational highs (and lows) to balanced bliss.
Just be able to not go there, except for the times when everything is good and you can recover the next morning. Then you can go there, knowing you can come back to centre, come back to a balanced life.