There was always something about the phrase “being centered” that felt intuitively right to me.
The center has a significant role in many different places. There’s the bulls-eye in games, the eye of the hurricane, the center of the beat in music. The center of gravity. The unique characteristics of strength and stability in architecture.
To me, there are many unique connotations associated with the center, all of them positive.
A sweet spot of precision and relaxation. Equanimity. Balance. Stillness, but equally distant from any edge or option.
All of these aspects of the center feel directly relateable to our emotional universe, as I see it.
“The center” strikes me as a useful term and metaphor for an internal posture, as well as a way of being able to operate in the world.
How I Define The Center
In terms of our inner world and relationship to emotion, the eye of the hurricane is one of the more apt analogies.
The eye is in the center of the hurricane. It is not an imaginary place that is disconnected from it, it has not so-called transcended the hurricane by dissociating. Nonetheless, it remains untouched.
Emotionally, there may be intensity surrounding us, from the euphoric to the destructive. Yet there is a place within us that allows us to exist right in the heart of all of that activity without being swept away by it.
I do not equate this space with numbness or aloofness. It is very aware, it may be full of feeling and energy, potential, sensitivity into what surrounds it, and much more.
Without access to that center eye of that hurricane where things are still and calm, we are completely at the mercy of the direction of the wind. We will be thrown fully from one emotion to the next, experiencing it as the entire universe for those moments.
It is not uncommon to be completely unaware that this center even exists. The experience of life being an emotional roller coaster interrupted by moments of ‘boredom’ seems to be fairly normal, even if unnatural.
One of the most important distinctions to me is this:
The center is not about the absence of any feeling, the removal or transcendence of emotion
The center exists no matter what is happening around it.
Accessing the Center
Essentially everything I do that falls into the ‘meditative’ category of inner work deepens the relationship to the center, and improves the ability to access and spend time there.
The practice I call ‘guided awareness’ is excellent for this. It is based on the natural, but actually quite mysterious, ability to simply put your attention on something and bring things from unconscious to conscious.
If I ask you to put your attention on your right shoulder, your awareness somehow knows how to do this, and the feelings of that part of your body will become present to you.
To practice keeping that attention on any one place, simply holding it there and returning to it when it drifts, actually increases your centeredness. You are training that ability to direct that point of focus, rather than have it constantly wandering around and reacting.
Deep breathing, combined with guided awareness focused on the breath, is an excellent and ancient practice.
Take a single, conscious deep breath right now and notice the way your attention seems to almost literally pull itself inward. You can almost feel it moving into the center, which is you, and less immersed in the hurricane of the ‘outside’ environment.
When Things are Intense
When life throws a lot your way, or a sudden incident spikes the energy and emotion in the environment, this is where a connection to your center is most important.
Notice for a moment, the more intense a situation is, the less you tend to be aware of your own body, your own inner experience. The more everything orients externally, immersed in the issue at hand and reacting to it.
Any sense of returning attention to your own body, mind, letting the intensity of the emotional reactions be felt consciously and pass through without them driving unconscious action, will put you more in the center. You will be able to see the situation more clearly. You will be able to act more from conscious choice rather than reaction.
These moments are also the best training grounds to make progress. Taking even the slightest moment to connect, to even attempt to do so along with whatever other reactions you are having, will be very significant. Be patient with yourself.
Practice Over Theory
Experiencing the center and increasing your ability to access it is more of a practice than a study. The more opportunities you have to be guided there, and deepen and reinforce this, the better.
Guided awareness, breathing, any guided meditations or practices that help bring awareness to your body and emotional reactions, will help strengthen this.
As always, I am interested in hearing your practices, experiences and comments below.
My upcoming class on this subject will be more practice-oriented, and give you a number of exercises using guided awareness, breathing, EFT and other practical strategies. I love doing these live and feel like it increases the effectiveness through group energy, which translates into the recordings.
Click the button a little further down this page for more info.