Monday, July 21, 2014

Enter the Center

The best teachers at massage school remembered to say, before we began working on each other, "Center yourself." Not one of them explained how to center ourselves, though, which puzzled me since balance is so rare. Human beings are not designed to be eternally balanced. All is change with us, always. We are dynamic beings: soulful, tender, ambitious, loving and hating. We swing out of balance all the time, every day. We are in flux.

Centering methods are always referred to as practices, like meditation, for instance. It's a practice, not something that is achieved once and for all. No matter what the method, where or when it was devised, becoming centered is not a matter of doing it once or twice and that's it. Oh no. We have to keep at it.

There are so many ways to come back to center! I wouldn't think of trying to name them all. It really helps to find one or two that work for you, and then practice, practice, practice, even though you will never reach perfection.

Here's a centering method I use all the time. I toss it into the pool of centering practices today because it's a very dynamic week astrologically, a great week to practice coming back to center.

The first part can be the hardest. Become curious. This requires some openness that is easier for some than others. You want to be empty, not like the wine glass put away in the cupboard, but like the glass on the table, an open bottle of wine poised above it, about to be poured. Be empty, yet welcoming. Can you?

The next part is easy. Ask these questions internally, pause to notice what comes up, then go to the next question. You don't have to do anything, just pay attention. Please try not to judge yourself since that will take you out of your center. If nothing comes to you, that's fine, too. Just notice.

Ask yourself, What story am I telling myself right now? 

Ask yourself, How does my body feel right now?

Ask yourself, How is my emotional weather at this moment?

Ask yourself, Can I feel my connection to God? If you don't like the word God, find something else that is bigger than yourself. Can you feel your connection to the greater wisdom, greater kindness, to spirit, soul, unconditional love, universal love, that sort of thing.

That's all you have to do. Simply asking these questions helps me find my way back to my center. Even if that lasts only a few seconds, it is well worth it. I have access to wholeness and wisdom only in those brief moments when I'm centered.

Here, I'll do it right now.

What story am I telling myself right now? I'm thinking, these people who read this blog need to know about this centering method.

(Maybe, maybe not! But that's my story for now.)

How does my body feel right now? I'm feeling some stiffness from sitting on the sofa with my computer in my lap. I'm well rested, a little sniffly, peckish but not terribly hungry.

What is my emotional weather at this moment? Slightly anxious, which is not abnormal, a little worried, a little cranky, too.

Can I feel my connection to God? Yes. Thank you!

Even as I'm typing this final paragraph I can feel my thoughts shifting in different directions. My anxiety is urging me to Be Productive, my body is begging me to Get Up and Stretch. But for a second there, I was centered, present, with all my dirt in one spot, as we used to say in the Midwest. Layers of my being aligned and I was whole. I was aware. I was clear.

If you don't have a centering practice, well, why not? Give this one a shot. Take a meditation class. Go to yoga or t'ai chi. Sit down and pray.

Centering practice brings out the best in us. Right now, at this insane moment in history, we need the best of us. We surely do.



tam said...

My first year acting teacher taught me about centering, so effectively. At the time, I didn't realize it would become a life-long practice. This is what I pass on to my students.
"Stand with your feet hip-width apart, knees unlocked, hips above knees, arms loosely at your side, shoulders opening like butterfly wings, neck loose and head floating up to the ceiling. Bring your awareness to your breath. Place your hands gently on your diaphragm and feel your centre rising and falling as you breathe. Close your eyes and allow the muscles in your forehead to relax and the mask of tension on your face to dissolve. Listen to the sounds around you and try to maintain a balanced awareness of the world within you and the world around you."
I must say this little speech about 15 times a week, and it's very gratifying to see my restless teenagers come to stillness as they recognize the words, the tone of my voice, their own bodies responding.

Reya Mellicker said...

They should do this in massage school. Maybe some schools do it, but not the school I attended.

Reya Mellicker said...

The mask of tension. Oh yeah.