Finding Peace in the Middle Ground
When I think about experiencing true peace, I’m reminded of a teaching from the Buddha called ‘The Middle Ground” that I learned from one of my spiritual teachers. The teaching taught me to recognize when I was truly at peace, when I was in alignment with myself and the world, or in the words of Byron Katie, when “I’m loving what is.” Recognizing the ‘middle ground’ is actually the best “tool”, if you will, I have for knowing whether I am resting in authenticity and Truth or whether I being moved and driven by my egoic patterning.
The middle ground probably doesn’t mean what you think it means. When I first heard it, like many, I thought it to be the same as walking in the middle of the road, not too far right, not too far left. I heard “happy medium”, compromise, or just find a place in the middle that works well enough. That couldn’t be further from the truth.
It’s not the happy medium. It’s not compromise.
It’s actually the place of all love.
Choosing the “happy medium” is almost like playing the peacemaker role. Typically, neither is authentic, neither is the truth. Unfortunately, many of us who are great “peacemakers” are actually very driven by our egoic fears. I know, I was one of them. I was a great peacemaker. I hated conflict and therefore, I had to be a great peacemaker. Conflict terrified me and I’d do anything to avoid it. I even remember my stepmother saying to me as a young child, you’re so easy to be around, you always go along with what everybody else wants. Of course I did! If I shared what I really wanted, there would be conflict among us and that had to be avoided at all costs. Over the many years, I completely lost ‘me’ in the process. I no longer had any idea who I really was, what I stood for, what I believed in, or what I wanted. This is just one of the many costs of not walking the middle ground.
So what is the middle ground? You experience the middle ground when you aren’t trying to grasp anything and you’re not trying to get away from or escape anything. It’s the point where you’re simply happy and at rest, in other words, at peace. Most of us would say we’re rarely grasping or escaping. Yet I’d challenge you to look closer. When I really looked closely at my life and when I’ve invited clients to look at their lives, we rarely find ourselves in the ‘middle ground’.
No escaping. No grasping.
“I don’t do that…” Are you sure?
You see in the ‘middle ground’ there is no desire to change anything. There is no want that is unfulfilled. There is no expectation of what should or shouldn’t be. In the middle ground we are truly loving EVERYTHING in our life exactly as it is and with that comes a resting place, a moment of divine peace.
Let’s break this definition down. We know that when we are in the middle ground peace pervades everything. We know that when we’re not in the middle ground there is unrest or upset. Whether we’re conscious of our upset or not, if we look deep enough we’ll see that we’re at odds with something in our lives. We want something to be different. We want to escape or get away from something we don’t like or we want to grasp or get something we feel we don’t have.
What might we want to escape or avoid? As I mentioned earlier, we might try to avoid a feeling of impending conflict. We might want to escape someone we perceive to be judgmental. We might feel controlled by someone or something in our lives and simply want to get away from them or it. We might feel at risk of having our heart broken, and do anything to avoid that. We avoid feeling vulnerable. We might avoid showing our tears. In it’s most simple form, we might not like the traffic on the freeway or the noise of the lawnmower next door, or the color our friend’s shirt, or the mess on the kitchen counter. If you are feeling in any way as if something should be other than the way it is, you’re not in the ‘middle ground’ and you’re not at peace.
What do you avoid? What do you try to change?
In all these cases where we want to avoid or escape our current experience, some part of our ego actively looks for the fastest way out. We break up the relationship. We say we like something we actually don’t. We call a friend and complain. We yell at our lover to release the tension.
Now let’s look at the other side… how we try to grasp or get. This occurs when we subtly, or not so subtly, manipulate our behavior or take an action so we can have our world be the way we want it. This is the domain of control. If you’re trying to control someone or something, you’re not in the middle ground. You’re not at peace. Here are some common things we try to get… (Notice that many of them mirror the things we try to escape.) We try to get more love or more connection. We look for peace so we can relax. We reach try to find some sense of control in our lives. We try to get our spouses, our co-workers, and our kids to do it our way. We reach out for security or abundance or even health. “I want” is the realm of “grasping.”
What are you grasping for?
I’m not saying asking for help or reaching out is bad. It’s simply something to be aware of. Notice for yourself right now. If you’re wanting more of something – money, play time, love, connection, recognition, power, security – can you truly find peace at the same time?
The path to peace…
Truly welcome everything that is, everything that’s happening…
and let go of anything you’re grasping for, wanting or attached to…
The path to peace… Truly welcome everything that is, everything that’s happening and let go of anything you’re grasping for, wanting, or attached to. Sounds simple enough, right? It’s not. It’s a life long path. It’s a life long journey. And, from my perspective, knowing the peace that I rest in so frequently now, it was worth every moment of welcoming and releasing. I hope you find it that way too.
*At Ecstatic Intimacy, an all-inclusive website for singles and couples, we welcome all sexual orientation(s), gender(s) and relationship expressions. In this article we utilize the pronouns he/she/him/her.