In our exploration of St. Hildegard’s numerous pieces of writing, we can take a closer look at the words of wisdom shared in her many letters of correspondence to others. In her correspondence to a young Benedictine nun, Elisabeth of Schöngau, we see that she speaks of moderation as a foundation for health:
“Listen, then, …..and learn moderation! For moderation is the mother of all the virtues for everything heavenly and earthly. For it is through moderation that the body is nourished with the proper discipline….
When there are unseasonable downpours, the fruit and vegetables growing on Earth are damaged; when a field has not been plowed, you do not find good grain springing up…
It’s the same with a person who lays on herself more strain than her body can endure. This is a sign that the effects of holy discretion are weak in such a person…” – St. Hildegard of Bingen
We see how St.Hildegard compares moderation in the human being to that needed in caring for plants. There’s a balance between too much and too little in order to reach health.
When we hear the word moderation, we sometimes think of depriving ourselves of something. Exercise moderation in food and drink. Those glasses of wine or bites of chocolate. It seems like hard work and not too enjoyable. Yet, we know it’s wise for us in the long run.
If this arises in your thoughts when you hear the word moderation, set aside this view for a moment and consider moderation as a support in creating balance in your life.
Balance between …….
work and relaxation,
activity and rest,
speaking and listening,
taking action and being open to what arises,
time with others and time alone,
giving and receiving.
St. Hildegard describes the balance that is in nature – with an excess of rain, the fruits and vegetables would be damaged. A lack of activity in not plowing the field would lead to no good grains sprouting. Balance exists in between the extremes.
Balance is what is experienced when we have the right connection between the efforts we put forth in a situation and the receptivity for the situation to unfold with its own inner wisdom. These two meet and find a right relationship with one another to arrive at health and well being. This meeting place has the potential to be fertile ground for something new to be birthed and created.
“When one’s thoughts are neither frivolous nor flippant, when one’s thoughts are neither stiff-necked nor stupid, but rather, are harmonious – they habitually render physical calm and deep insight.” – St. Hildegard of Bingen
Moderation will support us in finding balance in our lives. When we’re in balance, we’re empowered to be our best self. We are guiding our own path. The excess of activity or inactivity doesn’t take control of us.
Excess at either extreme can lead to unhealthy aspects that take control of our lives – addiction, self-centeredness, and disease/illness that interfere with our health spiritually, emotionally, and physically. Developing our own self-discipline to not venture in to excess or inactivity, guides us into this place of balance.
Take a moment to picture the rhythm of water
flowing – not a flood, not a drought. Water that flows rhythmically nourishing all life on Mother Earth.
Finding balance in our lives nourishes us. It helps us to recover from challenges, rejuvenate our energy, and be receptive to what comes toward us as new possibilities.
Balance resonates within us. We have a feeling of harmony with what is outside of us in life and with what is in our inner life. It is a subtle experience or state of being that we work to discover.
In times of balance, the qualities of space and time that we live in begin to change. We experience how balance is a creative and dynamic relationship between ourselves and the world.
Energy for life and renewal bubbles up within us. Inspirations come. Illnesses have the opportunity to be healed. A new wholeness enters.
Each person’s place of balance varies. Yours is not the same as someone else’s. You’ll know that point of balance that serves you, contributing to health and well being in yourself and the world.
Do you want to explore balance in your life a little more? Observe this week, without judgment, where does balance exist in your life, where would it serve you to experience more balance?
- In relationship – giving and receiving love and care
- In your mind – engaged in your thinking and resting your mind
- In health – eating, drinking, exercising –without excess or lack
- At work – engaged in the work with joy and purpose and time away
- With family and friends – enjoyable time with friends/family and time alone
- In recreation — enjoying interests that are fun, not too much or too little
Interested in learning more? Join my upcoming classes on Healing with St. Hildegard starting in April. Sign-up here.