Health & Medical Self-Improvement

The Real Benefits of Being Centered

Tony is a powerful, behind-the-scenes man in Washington, D.
He'd been a strategic advisor for several senators and then became a project consultant.
His wife threatened to divorce him because of all his business travel.
It was he who had really wanted children, and now he was hardly home, she said.
When he became ill, she was unsympathetic.
While he struggled to be home more and help with the kids, he felt torn about the jobs he turned down, and worried about what she'd do when he did travel.
Tony was an army brat growing up, moving often.
His background is one that many people have had.
He had not been abused or tormented, but he developed some patterns and beliefs about life led him to act as if had no say in how things went, that he had to put up and shut up; that to be loved he had to keep his head down, work hard, and toe the line.
He had been taught to shut off awareness of his aches and pains, fatigue or worry, and to keep on keeping on.
Since his dad was gone much of the time, and they rarely had time to get to know their neighbors, his mother turned to him for help and emotional support.
Because his wife was career-oriented and assertive about her needs, he had thought she was the opposite of his mother.
But as so often happens, the superficial difference screened their underlying similarities.
He found himself acquiescing to and appeasing his wife just as he'd done with his mother.
When he started working with me, Tony was not aware of his repeated patterns.
He only knew that he was worried that his career and his kids were suffering, had no idea how to ease the situation.
He mentioned in passing that he had had a few accidents - a fender-bender, cut himself badly, and he'd fallen down the basement stairs.
He did not draw a connection between being accident-prone and the stress he was under.
Fundamental to our work together was the uncovering and bringing to awareness Tony's way of relating to himself as well as to the important women in his life.
In order to figure out what to do to make his life better, he needed to learn to listen to himself and value his feelings and needs.
Tony's main difficulty was that he was unable to remain settled in himself so that his perspective could stay congruent with his point of view.
He needed to learn to center.
Your center is the place in which you are aware of your being - your sense of your true self that is deeper and more permanent than is your self-concept, your thoughts or even your emotions.
It is where you contact your essence.
Your center has a location in your body, in your energy body, and in your nervous system.
It can be developed, with practice, as more neural synapses develop, based on your attention.
(This correlates with the Tibetan monks' brain activities in chapter three.
) When you are centered, your sense of being becomes completely satisfying.
It becomes the axle around which is organized the rest of your multi-faceted self.
In fact, the more you practice, the more organized - re-aligned and settled - the rest of your experience and awareness can become.
When we center, we are literally in the eye of the storm, the hub of the wheel of life.
Say that, during the course of a day, you find yourself puzzling repeatedly over an upset with your boss, or concern about a friend, or preoccupation with that sudden jolt into old hurts that dislocated your time-sense from dealing with moody teenager to being at the mercy of your cold, uncaring father.
(People spend a lot of their energy on these background ruminations.
) These thoughts, memories, and feelings are located somewhere on the spokes of the wheel of your experience.
External events that impact you occur beyond the rim, but your reaction, or the extent to which you get pulled into them, draws that event into the spokes.
Even deep pains and flashbacks are on the spokes.
They are not at the core of who you are.
If they feel as if they are, you are not centered in the axle, and your attention has been drawn into their location.
Your attention and energy investment are someplace in the spokes or rim of the wheel.
As the wheel spins, or the maelstrom hurls itself around, your sense of self swirls with the events on which your attention is caught.
This feels chaotic and overly-arousing and so you may find yourself tending either to hustle or hide, swept up by the chaos of events without having a clear reference point or sense of being settled.
When you're spinning, it is much easier to become unbalanced or to lose your objectivity or not see you own reactions clearly.
While you're out there, you'll tend to feel more at the mercy of outside events or of feelings from the past, as well as knocked about by the other stuff banging around with you.
You may feel victimized by others as your power is washed away.
You may try to block your feelings and grab control, reasserting some sense of control.
Either way, many people spend a lot of their lives as if they are in the cyclone with Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz.
When you can settle your awareness in the axle, the wheel of experience can spin all it wants.
The axle remains still and oriented, knowing which way is up, which way is true north.
The storm may rage around you, but you can still be serene.
This is the still point that is at the center of all things.
When you arrive there consciously, greater nourishment and tranquility and creativity grows.
You can see all the cyclone of life whirling around you - look! There goes a cow! There's Dorothy's house! - all while in your rocking chair.
Or, you may get pulled back into the maelstrom by latching onto some idea or feeling that flashes by.
The devil is in the cyclone.
That's where you are when you turn against yourself and judge yourself harshly and think you are bad.
It takes practice to stay centered.
That is what Buddhism and Taoism talk about when they train people through the phases of mind and spirit development in the practice of meditation.
Christian and Sufi mystics have found the same place.
Centering is at the core of spiritual practice.
There is immense freedom and empowerment (and relief!) in being in the still point in the middle.
Simply seeing that feelings (those scary feelings that you were afraid to address, because you were sure that if you went into them, you'd find that they really define you, so you'll never get out of them) in fact are not at the core of who you are frees you to relate to them differently.
It is then possible not to drown in them or have to stave them off.
They can be experienced, watched with curiosity, and released.
You'll find out how actually to center, and what happens neurologically as you practice - how you can change your preset buttons, when my new book, Uncover Joy: the path beyond pain, trauma, and self-defeating patterns, using Energy Dynamics, is published soon.
In the meantime, sign up for the book's newsletter, and its blog, where you can find excerpts.
Here's to being more empowered by being more centered in your true self!

Leave a reply