What is Centering?
Learning to Center your awareness is one of the most important skills you can develop as a caregiver. Centering is foundational to connecting deeply with others and developing your full healing potential. Centering is a mindfulness practice of learning to manage your attention so that you are aware of your inner reference of peace, calm and stability. Learning to center is developed over time with practice.
Imagine that the points of the star represent different parts of yourself. You have thoughts, emotions, a physical body with sensory input/ sensation, imagination, intuition and impulses and desires. Most of us perceive ourselves according to how we think, how we feel, what our body looks like, what we want or desire. These dimensions of ourselves develop as we grow and mature. While these “parts” of our personality help to define who we are it is important to recognize that we are more than these parts. Within each of us we have a core—a center of, peace, love, joy and deep connection that can be accessed. Accessing this deep part of our being may be viewed as a spiritual experience.
Centering is a practice that allows you to become more deeply aware of this inner core, this still point within. There is a deep sense of connecting to the “spirit” within. As you practice centering techniques, you are able to access this core self more easily and you begin to direct your life from this centered awareness of peace and connection. You become less reactive. This process can be thought of as disidentifying from the parts of yourself and identifying with your core being.
Thus, centering involves a process of moving the attention inward to that still point within—the centered self. There is an active and passive aspect of the centered self. You become aware of an inner reference of peace, stability, open awareness and connection. You are a pure, objective, loving witness to what is happening within and without. There is also an active part of the inner self, the “will-er” that can act from this deep level of awareness to instigate action in the world. So, at the center of the self there is a unity of love and will….action and observation.
How can the practice of Centering benefit you and your patients?
When you are centered, your awareness is grounded in the body. You are connected directly to your inner energy of love and peace; you have ability to be fully present to others and you have the ability to act with intent and compassion. Centered awareness provides you the power to freely choose how you will act in any situation. It allows you to choose how you want to “show up” in any given situation.
Having a centering practice benefits you and your patients. Benefits of centering include:
- Calm Mind—ability to think clearly and calmly; ability to learn; more open observation and awareness of surroundings; connection with scientific reasoning and logic
- Quiet emotions—ability to stand by someone who is expressing pain or anxiety without. reacting to the pain/ anxiety. Ability to remain present to the person and provide comfort.
- Relaxed, grounded body—ability to be aware of internal stress and anxiety and self-regulate the autonomic nervous system so that you can manage your energy.
- Receptivity to intuition and imagination—ability to listen to and respond from deep levels of knowledge that we call our intuition; creative insights and use of imagination to act—the ability to act artfully and create new ways of responding.
- Choice about how and if to act on impulses or desires—freedom to act; freedom to choose action rather than reacting mindlessly from past experience.
How do I learn to center?
One of the most common ways to learn the skill of Centering is practicing awareness of the breath.
Try this exercise:
Get in a comfortable position and take a moment to just look around the room. Really see the light…the colors…the environment…
Now take a deep breath and close your eyes and let all of the visual awareness go.
And now be aware of the sounds…..and take a deep breath and let the sounds fade.
Scan your body from head to toe…..very gently… and if you need to move, do that now.
And now lightly put your attention to your breath and become aware of your breathing. With each out breath let go of anything you no longer need…..just be aware of your breathing without trying to change it.
Be aware of any thoughts, feelings or images come to mind just notice them and let them be. There is nothing you have to do about these feelings now….Do not hold onto them just let them pass and return your attention to the breath.
say to yourself—I AM AT PEACE.
As you focus on your breathing, allow your awareness to move into your center of silence within….say to yourself, I AM AT PEACE and just breathe in the peace and silence of this center….still….calm…deepening….
And now notice how it feels to be you in this moment. Say to yourself.
I have a mind, but I am not my mind….
I have emotions, but I am not my emotions…
I have a body, but I am not my body….
I AM a Center of Peace and Power…….. A Center of Love and Compassionate Action……
Take all of the time you need to experience your centered state of awareness and when you are completed, slowly bring your attention back to the breath and then the environment you are in.
There are many forms of breath awareness, relaxation, and guided imagery exercises that can help you learn to center your awareness into this relaxed, open state of awareness. The Ohio State University Center for Integrative Health and Wellness has a number of excellent resources you can try.