Returning to Center
As we embark upon the New Year and will soon enter the third year of life in the midst of navigating a global pandemic, I am keenly aware that living consciously from a centered space is vital to our well-being. My sense is that most of us could have never imagined that what we once knew as freedom to live out our unalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness on our own terms, would be replaced by city, county and other government rules and guidelines which now dictate our lives. It’s been quite an adjustment, to say the least.
Knee-jerk reactions, short-tempered outbursts, quick criticisms haven’t ever served to bring people together. If living from a centered place can help us cultivate more compassion and kindness, then, as we begin 2022, I am left pondering, how can we all operate from a centered space?
Phrases like “Getting Centered or Centering In” have become a part of the common vernacular. You may also hear this concept of centeredness referred to as being grounded, anchoring, or tuning into inner guidance. In other words, operating from a place of inner wisdom and calm with awareness and ability to regulate our mental and emotional states. Tuning into “center” will leave us feeling balanced in mind, body, spirit, and emotion.
If we feel “off-center” it may be that we have allowed others or outer circumstances to influence our peace of mind. This may cause stress hormones to be released, resulting in the body and mind feeling an imbalance. The longer we allow ourselves to be in discord with this inner calm, the discord grows and becomes more apparent in all aspects of our lives.
Finding center may look like a perfect balance of being in the world, but not of it. Rather than fixate on outer circumstances of fear, worry and upset, we can find a centered experience amidst all of life’s events.
Zen philosopher, Alan W. Watts, said, “Stay in the center, and you will be ready to move in any direction.” Isn’t this a great visual of holding neutral energy, not positioned to pounce in defense or breakdown under pressure, but rather centered into a space of stillness and peace? When your boss jumps to conclusions, the cashier is agitated, the car breaks down, if you’re operating from a centered space you will move forward with a sense of ease and calm efficiency, empowering your life.
Maintaining centeredness or returning to center will look different for each individual, however these are some ideas to bring you into a place of peace.
Visit Your Sources of Inspiration
Getting in touch with that which brings you inspiration will guide you back to center. Perhaps a set time each day to sit in the silence or practice meditation, or moving meditations while walking, sweeping, hanging laundry or peeling potatoes can be very centering. Communing with nature can offer many benefits, even five minutes watching the hummingbirds visit the feeder can produce the feel-good endorphins that rebalance our nervous systems. Writing a letter to a friend expressing gratitude, complimenting a stranger and sharing a smile with a child can bring us to center. Inspirational poetry or scripture, or exploring your creativity through art, dance or other passionate activities can bring you inspiration and lead you back home to yourself.
Celebrate Small Wins
Instead of allowing thoughts to take you down the path of catastrophic thinking, where the mind can build evidence to keep you off center, take the reins of your mind and begin navigating your way back to your inner harmony. Focus on what you want, not what you don’t want. Instead of arguing for your limitations, focus on and celebrate your wins. It may be acknowledging baby steps or big leaps in your life. Instead of watching the evening news and getting worked up, you chose to sit in the backyard and notice the leaves changing colors. That’s a win! Rather than judge the neighbor, you might use the compassion practice, “Just Like Me” bringing your heart to center by remembering how much we are all alike, rather than different. That’s a win! Celebrate your authentic self!
Boost Your Body Temple
Our physical well-being makes up the “body” portion of the mind, body, spirit balance. Deepak Chopra said, “Every cell in your body is eavesdropping on your thoughts.” That sums it up rather well!
Our centered place might feel much farther away when we are burned out, stressed out, perpetually tired, undernourished, dehydrated or in chronic pain. It is vital that we understand how our physical bodies are always giving us messages. Take heed and take time for a daily physical check-in. Do you need to drink more water, stretch your muscles, incorporate movement, take vitamins or a nap? Breathing is a brilliant way to move into calm center. There are many excellent breathing techniques, find one that you like and practice daily. The “box breathing” technique is easy to remember and can be done anywhere. Inhale for a count of 6, hold for 6 count, exhale for a count of 6, hold for 6 count, repeat four times. Be sure your spine is straight and your lungs and belly have space to expand.
Being centered is about living from a space of awareness, curiosity, a dedication to learning and investigation, and a desire for peace and wisdom. Everything that shows up in life is giving us the opportunity to tune within.
Cheers to being Centered!