Saturday, June 18, 2011

Let Your Moderation Be Known to All

enthusiasm is a good thing, but if it is used unwisely it can be a bad thing.  so often, i begin a new project or embrace a new goal with great enthusiasm, pouring all my energies into it, only to see my attempt fizzle and my enthusiasm disappear.  one thing i am learning as i age is that moderation is a great virtue.  when i find myself abandoing some worthwhile pursuit, i now look at the time and effort i'm investing in it.  is it taking over my life?  am i becoming stressed because i can't cram everything i want to do and everything i need to do into the waking hours of the day?  am i resentful of the demands others make on me because meeting those demands is crowding out time for this worthwhile pursuit?  when the answer to those questions is "yes," i know that i better reassess my allocation of time.

for example, i follow a number of blogs.  all are helpful, but i found myself feeling stressed because i couldn't find time to keep up with them all.  the solution was to select a smaller number that i felt were the most helpful to me.  the three that were of the greatest benefit to me are checked every day.  the others are divided between the days of the week.  so now i check on five blogs each day, and when i find that i have an extended period of time available, i check on those that i can't get to on a regular basis.  this plans has relieved me of a great deal of anxiety, and as Leo Babauta puts it in his blog, zenhabits, to "get all the goodness."

when i began meditating, i wanted to pursue my practice several times a day with the goal of extending the time i spent in meditation to longer and longer periods.  i quickly realized that this was a prescription for meditation becoming a stress producer, rather than a stress reliever.  i was relieved when i discovered several practioners who recommended using a timer for meditation.  now i spend thirty minutes the first thing in the morning, divided into three ten minute segments back-to-back, and i don't include any additional meditation time in my regular schedule.  if additional time becomes available, then i can spend more time later in the day.

the same pattern was true in my exercise plan.  instead of just enjoying my bike ride, i found myself trying to take longer and longer rides.  that would have been great, except that longer rides consume more time, and that was time i didn't have.  so now i ride a fixed route that takes a fixed amount of time and concentrate on enjoying the ride.   every now and then, i may extend it because i have extra time.  when i returned to resistance training, i pushed myself to lift heavier and heavier weights and found myself frustrated because my progress wasn't quick enough.  i thought about what i had done and realized i was turning a joyful and beneficial activity into a stress producer.  instead of pushing myself now, i concentrate on form and breathing and let my body decide what the right amount of resistance should be.

what i'm trying to suggest is that setting limits is a good thing.  balance is important and keeps us from burning out.  when we seek to moderate our activities, to follow the Middle Path if you will, there is time for everything and we enjoy all the pursuits that help us and bring us joy and peace.  my prayer this day is that we will learn to have balance in our lives so that there is time of each thing that is truly important.

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