What Does it Mean to Be Centered?

Being centered means having a reference point, a place to come back to when life and emotions and stress push you off balance. Think about those wobbly toys that kids play with; you knock them down and they bounce right back. They have the kind of balance that we wobbly humans often wish we possessed!  They have such a strong sense of  what their  “center” is, that they effortlessly go right back to it, no matter how many times or which direction you push them.

Being ‘centered’ is that kind of dynamic balance point. It doesn’t mean we are always there, it means we always know where to go back to. Kind of like knowing where your home is. Meditation is one very effective way to get more familiar with your center. Regular meditation teaches you where it is, what it feels like and how to get back there when you get temporarily lost.

How else do you get centered? It can be as easy a deep breath, a moment of being totally present to the physical sensation of the nourishing air flowing into your cells, the peacefulness in your heart, the momentary quiet of your busy mind… It can be a time of contemplation or prayer, song or dance. The beauty of a sunset, a butterfly, a child’s face… A feeling of gratitude, like a smile that starts in your heart and spreads through your whole being and shifts you right back into your center…

The Four Steps to Center™ meditation technique that I created more than 15 years ago is a process that uses the four levels of being, body, heart, mind and spirit as steps to reach your center. It begins with the body and your physical sensations and then guides you through the heart – place of emotions and feelings; the mind – place of thoughts and ideas; to the spirit – the place of connection to who we really are, the place of our center.

In most ancient philosophies there is the concept of the sacred circle, the wheel of life, or  in Native American tradition, the Medicine Wheel. The circle represents the cycles of life, and the four axis points represent the four directions of our physical world, north, south, east and west. Each of the 4 directions also represents one aspect of our selves: North is the Mind, South is the Heart, West is the Body and East is the place of Spirit.  So another way to visualize it is that when we are in balance with the four directions and the four aspects of our Selves, we are in ‘the center.’

Whatever technique you choose to center yourself, regular practice is very helpful. The better you know the way, the easier it is to find it when an un-expected wind blows you off course. Regular daily meditations like my Opening and Completing Your Day or Releasing Stress, Finding Peace can help you learn the path to your center and give you a deep unshakable sense of balance. If you are a beginner to meditation, or have tried and failed before, you may find that guided meditation is an easier way to meditate. However you do it, take some time each day to reinforce that feeling of balance, of center, of the deep peacefulness that lives within you.

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Andrea Conway - July 25, 2011

Carol – I love the wobbly toys image! Not only to these toys bob back up instantly, they never lose their smile. You make a great point that we aren’t going to be centered all the time – and that it doesn’t matter! We just have to know “where to go back to.” There is such relief in that. Thank you.

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