The Adventures of Leaf and Lizard

<-- Back

Meditation and Moderation

still from video

Meditation and Moderation is a video illustrating the reverberation of emotional imbalance, which is transcended through a process of detached and focused awareness. Through the practice of mindful meditation, one moderates extremes. Sitting with the emotions but not acting on them transforms emotional excess into calm and compassionate energy, which echoes into the world; the effect continues because of the interconnectedness of all things. By understanding that one is not separate from the other, discord can become harmony, anger can become kindness, hatred can become compassion, and I, this drop of consciousness I think of as “me,” might use my “being in the world” in the service of establishing balance through the focus of my intention, the practice of mindful awareness, and the cultivation of willingness to surrender the illusion of self-importance.

This video was created for my class in Buddhist Traditions at Pacifica Graduate Institute, taught by Dr. Patrick Mahaffey.

I was inspired to take this approach to the project when some of my classmates expressed skepticism that Buddhist monks were providing any service to the villagers who gave them alms, yet I can’t think of any more obvious truth than that one person’s practice of mindful awareness benefits all beings (granted that, in any tradition or vocation, there are those whose motivations lack integrity, yet surely this doesn’t negate the contributions of the sincere). It seems to be a simple demonstration of physics. One could make the case that, in fact, the most powerful effect one can have in the world is to manage one’s state of mind. Meditation is an active, not a passive practice. Mind radiates out from us and into us, for better and for worse. Balance has a harmonious effect on the world, distortion has a chaotic effect. Many things in life are mysterious, yet I believe it’s clear that each of us can endeavor to bear responsibility for the quality of the vibration which we bring to the world. Simple to say, hard to do. Nothing could be more important.

About Meditation and Moderation
Using paper cutouts to represent the main character depersonalizes and universalizes the story. Beginning and ending with the sketching of the character plays on the concept of emptiness, and suggests that these experiences are human projections.

The main character is overcome by emotional excess, emanating from interpersonal experience and from the distortions of memory. This is shown by the overlay of video clips illustrating emotional disturbance.

The raging faces subside as the character makes a conscious choice to detach and seek balance through meditation, contemplating feelings as they arise and pass away.

Feeling the emotions, but not acting on them, is the experience of purification by fire. In seeking to transform the emotional imbalance, the character faces the demons of confusion, hatred, pride, desire and envy, and recognizes their illusory nature. Fire consumes illusions and tempers wisdom.

Understanding brings a sense of alignment and clarity. The character finds enlightenment (albeit rather quickly!), illustrated by the blue scintillating light and glow of awareness, and, as bodhisattva, radiates joy into the world, represented by the spinning sun which is both within and without.

This transformation is echoed in the expressions of love and well-being of others. A smile or expression of calm and authentic joy and peace arises from an awareness of the interconnectedness of all things and affects all those around, having exponential effect in the world. The birdsong, trees, sun and water symbolize the divine self-less-ness of nature.


  1. Absolutely stunning, Mary. So helpful to me. Thank you for this!

Speak Your Mind