Thursday, March 18, 2010

On being Centred


Neither up nor down...

I went out for a late afternoon walk yesterday and when crossing the road noticed this marking on a lamp post.

I imagine that the painted arrows serve some purpose for either the electricity company or maybe the telephone lines people.

But what the image made me instantly think of was:

The grand old Duke of York,
He had ten thousand men;
He marched them up to the top of the hill,
And he marched them down again.

And when they were up, they were up;
And when they were down, they were down,
And when they were only half-way up,
They were neither up nor down.

And from there my mind meandered back in time to this:

Halfway down the stairs
is a stair where i sit.
there isn't any
other stair quite like it.
i'm not at the bottom,
i'm not at the top;

so this is the stair where I always stop.
Halfway up the stairs
Isn't up

And it isn't down.

It isn't in the nursery,
It isn't in town.

And all sorts of funny thoughts
Run round my head.
It isn't really


It's somewhere else


Poem by A.A. Milne ~ Illustration by E.H. Shepard


... and then I mused on this place of neither up nor down
and being half way up and not really anywhere
and I thought that it is rather like that position
from where we sometimes climb to highs
and sometimes fall to lows
but the place to where we can return
to retrieve a sense of equanimity.

The symbol made me think that:

to be happy or content
does not imply
that we do not
experience pain and loss
or exaltation and joy

to be balanced
doesn't mean
that we do not waver

to be centred
doesn't mean
that we do not oscillate

When jostled, buffeted
or buoyed and bounced
by the ebb and flow of life
we can learn to return
to that place half way up,
half way down,
neither up nor down

We can find ourselves once again
and reclaim those feelings
of serenity and calm

What do you use
as your ballast
when you feel off centre?

Oh Happy Days



  1. The two arrows immediately made me think of 'as above, so below', which made the rest of your post even more pertinent...

  2. Delwyn
    Due to having a cyst covering my right knee--my ballast is a walking cane(when I do use it).

    My balance was off when this cyst came up and I was afraid I was going to fall when I was walking.

    Tracy :)

    PS Yes, I am still blogging! I posted two new listings this week.

  3. Wonderful post. I've known and loved the "Grand Old Duke of York" for years but haven't sung it for a decade. Guess what I'll sing with my kinders today?

    As for ballast, on days that go just unusually well, I bear in mind difficult days, and vice versa. It's important for me (my mom was bipolar) not to get carried too far away from center. Mania and depression are erratic states of consciousness.

    A decades-long meditation practice, an enduring marriage and employment, a real community, exercise, creative pursuits, especially singing, and most of all, Mother Earth and her endless wonders have all been invaluable to my equanimity and well being.

  4. Delightful post Delwyn. So true - the key is knowing our way back to that place of equanimity. We can visit the extremes but we know our own path back to the 'middle way'.

    I have often been delighted to find bits of Taoist or Buddhist philosophy in the old verses of days gone by. There are certain eternal truths that bubble forth from the human psyche/soul in every time and every place.

    I often think of all the double meaning in the poem "I have a little shadow, that goes in and out with me and what can be the use of him is more than I can see. For he is very, very like me from his heels up to his head ..."

    I bid you a 'happpy day', and I'm going back to reread this sweet post. Thank you!

  5. delwyn - it was lovely to see the aa milne piece as i remember reading that as a little english boy so many years ago! place i go to recover my balance is the woods. another place is music. cycling and walking are also good places. those places remind me of what i know to this point about this place. have a lovely evening. steven

  6. Hi Delwyn - me again. I just had to share this with you:

    After reading your post I am rushing around picking up and tidying before my first client of the day arrives. As I flit about I find myself singing: "Did you ever see a lady, a lady, a lady - did you ever see a lady go this way and that. Go this way, and that way; go this way and that way - Did you ever see a lady go this way and that."

    I think you've hit on something here. There must be many nursery rhymes that speak to the possible extremes and re-organizing centre.

    Anyway - it made me both giggle and go Ahah!

  7. We seem to be on the same wavelength today--I feel like I am missing this center these days and need to find it asap.

  8. Intriguing thoughts. I remember both the poems that were once there in my reading. I really liked reading them again. I find my balance to come from trying, to get up those stairs and get down those stairs. When I am caught in the middle, I pause, reflect, and search for the best meaning of it all and take the stairs some more. Pausing is important but one can't stay still as that means you have totally given up.

  9. I love this post. I love that a symbol on a pole, that many would walk right by without a second look, inspired you in a wonderful direction.

    Dynamic balance, like a gyroscope. That image has been with me for a long while. And as my life has consisted of many trips into the extreme and then back to center, there is definitely something to it. These days, there are fewer extremes, but I can't regret any of the places I've been.

    When I need to center, my most relied-upon method has always been to take a bath. Lately, I've been learning how to center anytime, anywhere by simply drawing my full attention into my body.

  10. Hi Delwyn,
    Great post - I love A.A. Milne's poetry.
    Have been catching up with some of the posts I've missed recently and discovered the beautiful bookmark in your collage creations - stunning!!
    My daughter's on her way home tomorrow after 4 months in Aus - what an amazing time she's had. You live in a great country!
    Take care.

  11. I'm a true believer in being centred.

  12. Two things: 1. meditation 2. gratitude.

  13. Great post. I like to follow Eckhart Tolle's advice to "step into the space." It allows me not to think for a bit.

  14. It would be a much more peaceful world indeed if we all took time to meditate on things such as this more often. Nice post!

  15. I feel the older I get, the more centered I stay, not needing to actually seek a recoverance of balance, maybe it's because I live a simple life. I do feel a need for quiet reflective time alone, in nature usually and seeing the sun rise each morning helps give me a mindset of gratitude!
    Enjoyed your observance and thoughts, Delwyn

  16. the 'middle way', a state of mind which I have yet to achieve.

    A wonderful post, Delwyn.

  17. Oh No
    I have just spent an hour writing comments to each of you because I found your responses so interesting and diverse and when I pushed publish they went into the ether...why does that happen?
    This is the second time I have had it occur recently...

    I'm sorry I can't repeat them all...

    Happy days

  18. I think rocking in my hammock and reading offers me balance. Sort of in this world and not. Interesting post. I like halfway.

  19. Delwyn it just so great that something so simple that you noticed and shared triggered memories for you and your readers. The nursery rhyme that pops to mind for me that I'll be humming all day is: Mares eat oats and does eat oats and little lambs eat ivy. Kids eat ivy too wouldn't you? As a kid I always thought it was : mersey dotes and does edotes...
    and skiddly divy do wouldn't you.
    For balance it is reading ACIM- A Course In Miracles every morning and when I am off balance-to ask for another way because my way isn't working.
    Really enjoyed this one!

  20. I've been meditating for the past 6 months, usually twice a day, and find it helps me feel centered.

    And if the day knocks me off center, I now know how to find my way back.

  21. in my workshops, I talk about finding your anchor-balance-center-- as an artist- so when you go off into the 'deep end of the water' to explore, experiment and create something new- you have that center to anchor you so you are never completely lost-- love this analogy to halfway up and down.

  22. I focus on my breath - just in and out. It brings me back to a place of calm, even if there is turmoil around me. My worst state of panic is holding my breath - not good. Breath is Life - in and out - rise and fall. People like you and Wanda also bring me to center, Delwyn - thank you.

  23. Hi Donna

    I have loved hearing of the different ideas expressed here.

    I like your suggestion of an anchor...which reminds me that we are never completely adrift, or lost at sea, but that we can always return to centre...thank you for that...

    Ho Barb
    thanks for this good simple, effective...
    and thank you my dear for your kind thought...

    happy days

  24. You express this so well, Delwyn.
    Sometimes I can find my balance through walking, or cooking, or listening to music as I potter around . . . and sometimes I just need to get under my covers, with a cup of tea, and read a good book.

    I am in a stage where my family (stressed-out husband and teenage daughters) make a lot of emotional demands on me . . . and rarely give back what they take. So I guess that I interpret this post in terms of re-establishing my own emotional equanimity.

  25. Oh I know that AA Milne poem so well!

    I can sometimes swing between depression and manic anxiety ...less and less though now ...

    Prayer and candles help me. SO help me.

  26. Oh,that one is easy for me these few years,my overweight is the greatest ballast ever,that can pull me in to the very centre of the earth,so heavy.If that not centred enough I stare in to the PC monitor for ages hoping something will happened,some miracle :O)
    Love you new looks,really!


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