Thursday, September 13, 2018

Moderation: An Approach that's Actually Reasonable

by John Boodhansingh of Zero Mindfulness

I think that telling someone to “choose moderation” is pointless.

And what does “moderation” mean, anyway?

Immoderate Moderation

“Moderation” suggests a healthy balance, like a seesaw with a 150-pound man on each side and a fulcrum at the mid-way point.

Problem is, so far are most people from integrity with their own centers—i.e.: living their healthiest, thinking their clearest and most open-minded, etc.—that peoples’ views of “moderation” may more commonly be like a seesaw with a 250-pound man on one side, a 50-pound boy on the other, and a fulcrum that’s been shifted much closer to the boy than the man.

The more distorted peoples’ thoughts and behaviors are, the less it is within their ability to get an accurate picture of a circumstance: they cannot do this for themselves (though they may think they can), and they certainly cannot do this for others (though they may think they can).

Which leads us to a second problem: appearances. Whether a person is being "moderate" or not is commonly judged based on the subjective viewpoints of any number of outside viewers. But who are any of these viewers to say, for the most part, what is or is not "moderate" for any other person?


An alcoholic, for example, could acknowledge that she is not being moderate in her alcohol consumption. Yet she could still ardently believe that two or four drinks per day, at least depending upon how they’re spaced, is “moderate.” Someone who’s overcome alcoholism may believe equally ardently that the answer is zero.

And what does any given culture, religion, or recently-published study say of alcohol consumption?

Surely, these lead to whole new layers of complexity. People end up arguing among each other, they seek to bend those of differing perspectives to their own beliefs, and they use their beliefs to self-righteously validate their own kind.

All the while, they may get so enmeshed in “what’s been divinely prescribed,” in the intellectualization of “what’s scientifically verified to be true,” and so on, while also probably being captives of peer pressure, that they’ve lost the facility of listening to what their very bodies, minds, and emotions are saying about the act and consequences of drinking.

It’s therefore a necessity that people step out of their current perspective in order to reevaluate and then validate or discard what they believe is “true.”

Beer and Cake… and Dis-ease

There was a time when I would have called drinking two beers per day “moderate.” I drank two beers every night with dinner, and I saw this as “okay” because I wasn’t getting drunk and the research said “two a day is okay.” I’d also “needed” these two to maintain a false idea I’d created for myself as to “who I am.”

Nowadays, I don’t call any amount of alcoholic drinking “moderate.” I’ve vastly expanded my mind, I’ve done deeper research, and I can “hear” my body much more loudly and clearly. In my current experience, I’m aware on multiple levels of alcohol’s toxicity. No, it may not be toxic like drinking cyanide-laced Kool-Aid, but it’s still toxic.

Similarly, back in the day I would have argued that it’s “moderate” to eat some junky food every day. Maybe after dinner, if not otherwise, have a fat piece of cake or a double- (or triple-) scoop of ice cream.

I now realize the folly in this. For one, I’d always (inadvertently) undereaten and never put on weight, so I didn’t think about calories. Two, I didn’t know of the damage these things were doing to my body, what my cravings actually meant about my body’s ever-malnourished state, or what my poor dietary habits would mean later on. And thirdly, unaware of how numb I was to life, I didn't realize that I'd used such harsh food and drink to, paradoxically, keep myself numb while helping me to feel something, anything.

Having gone through a 5+ year-long health nightmare and now eating lots of nutrient-dense and calorically-satisfying foods, I have no cravings, or even the desire, for any junk food whatsoever. Even most homemade baked goods are a complete turn-off.

Alcohol or junk food, I now see that I'd never consumed either in "moderation," yet I don't call the absence of either in my diet as "moderate." Maybe I could simply say that they're irrelevant. To me, perhaps to the exclusion of minimally-consumed snacks made from high-quality ingredients, it seems that to consume such food and drink would sort of be like saying, "I've moderated disease into my diet." That's insensible.

So, Then… What Is “Moderation”?

Having stepped out of my old perspective, I now see how poorly I would have defined “moderation” in the past as well as the lousy conditions under which that definition would have been created.

I can’t say, however, that I label my new way of seeing things as “moderate.”

I mean, I don’t really think of it as anything at all other than improved, personally healthier perspectives and choices after doing lots of self-healing, research, and so on.

I rarely even use the word “moderation” except in a case such as this article. If someone would ask me for help, I don’t think I’d ever tell them to “choose moderation.”

Yes, there are usually healthier ways to do things, but “healthier” doesn’t readily equate to “more moderate” because everyone’s experience, perspectives, needs, and so on are highly subjective.

The 20 bananas that one fruitarian could eat in a given day may work great for that particular person. But maybe for a wannabe fruitarian, 20 bananas per day causes problems.

In either case, who am I to say to either one, “Choose moderation”? The former is doing what works, extreme though it may seem, and for the latter, what is “moderation”? Is it 10 bananas and potato soup? Is it steak and salad and coconut oil?

I have no idea.

I can’t even say “moderation” could at least partially be defined by “leaving out the garbage” because this takes us back to what we discussed earlier. What and how much is “garbage,” and by who’s perspective?

Okay, yes, perhaps by all accounts except for the most brainwashed, extremes such as addiction could potentially be seen even by the very participants of these extremes as being “immoderate.” But so what? I’m hard-pressed to see any functional value in merely telling an extremist, “Choose moderation.”

Otherwise, it seems to me that perhaps, as many people use it, the very concept of “moderation” is, itself, garbage.

Which leads me to think that people need to listen to and feel what’s really going on with their own bodies, minds, emotions, and overall experiences, while ceasing to look for some external, cover-all means of defining what is supposedly “right” or “wrong,” “good” or “bad.”

From this, they can then make the higher, wiser choices that suit them best for attaining health and happiness. They can also more readily shift their concept of “moderation” because it will be based on their own self-conscious awareness and experience rather than external opinions.

This would mean that “moderation” is not about a cause as it seems we commonly think of it but about an effect. This is to say, it doesn’t matter what we do so much as it matters how our bodies respond, how we’re able to manage our thoughts, how our emotions flow, how our spirituality evolves, how our experiences unfold, as a consequence of what we do.

If we as individuals are doing what works best for each of us, we must necessarily experience holistic balance.

It doesn’t then matter what we’re eating or how we’re exercising or what our work is in relation to other people or the latest scientific research. What matters is that, barring unexpected and adverse circumstances, we’re able to be consistently healthy, alert, motivated, and so on as a positive consequence of both the individual and the totality of our choices.

For any given person, “moderation” may then be like the seesaw with a 250-pound man and a 50-pound boy, only the fulcrum is located much closer to the man instead of the boy. So although this could appear “immoderate,” with one side having quite a large arc and minimal weight and the other having a comparatively small arc and maximum weight, balance is still maintained overall.

We might therefore conclude that: “Moderation” is the effect of balance resultant of the individual and collective, internal and external factors and choices of any given person wherein this person’s true needs are being satisfied; appearance-based judgments of other subjective viewers notwithstanding.

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