Are you feeling centered?
Can you choose to center yourself now?
Take three minutes to read this month's article on centering (below) and learn (or revisit) a simple centering practice.
The Centered State
Be at peace and simply be.
-- Shirley Murray
Questions that come up frequently in workshops and conversation: What is the centered state? How do I know if I'm centered, and how can I notice when I'm not? Does centering ever become automatic?
The centered state is always available though often hard to find when we need it most. The calm center of the storm, a refuge in difficulty, and the peace of simply being -- why is it so easy to lose sight of this powerful choice?
I plan to write about centering more often this fall -- short snippets that are easy to digest and will add to your centering practice. Let's start with:
What is Center?
Answers from workshop participants:
- The quiet at the center of my being
- My "reset" button
- My happy place
- The feeling I get when I'm in the flow
- My highest self
Most of the time, people know when they're centered, though they may describe it differently.
The centered state is a mind-body quality that includes increased awareness and physical stability. When we're centered, we're confident, in control of our thoughts and emotions, and capable of managing whatever life sends our way.
How do I Know?
You know, because you're in the zone, comfortable in your body, alert, restful, and ready. And you can get better at knowing when you are and when you're not.
In Aikido, we use a physical centering practice, starting with finding our center of gravity, an internal locus about two inches below the navel. We call it tanden, or one-point. When I focus on the tanden, I become more balanced. Breathing from center, I easily manage my thoughts and emotions, and I access the still, calm origin of ki (my energy or life force).
Here is a simple exercise you can do with a partner that I learned from my friend, Tom Crum. It will tell you if you're centered:
- Without being centered, ask someone to push on you with a gentle, steady pressure. You can choose any spot, though I usually use the sternum.
- Notice what happens. Do you wobble? Do you resist by pushing back?
- Now center yourself. Bring your awareness to the tanden. Breathe.
- As you exhale, ask your partner to push in the same way. This time, mentally redirect the push through your tanden into the floor. Imagine the push as energy. Engage it.
- Are you more stable? If you are, then you're centered.
- Notice if you feel balanced emotionally and mentally. With practice, you can do this anytime and all by yourself.
For example, you can use eye contact, words, gestures, and even someone's physical proximity the same way you used the energy of your partner's hand. Centering will help you be perfectly present, even when the person usually has a negative effect on you. When you center yourself, you change everything. Think of it as inner self-defense.
Center yourself now. Then think of a person, situation, memory, or life event that is difficult. How does centering change your relationship to the challenge?
In my workshops, I use a centering bell to help participants practice. The sound of the bell is centering. It helps people relax and focus. You can find my centering bell sound at the top of each page of my Website.
Take a moment now to listen to the bell and center yourself! Let me know if it was helpful.
At this time of year, as we all "go back to school" in our thinking and in our work schedules, let's take a moment now and then to return to center -- a place of power and presence and a mind-body state that makes each moment a Ki Moment.