A center is a safe haven. I compare my haven to the eye of a storm. When I’m in the center of my soul, I’m in a place of stillness. Though the storm may rage all around me, the winds are not tossing me to and fro, nor am I pelted by the driving rain. I’m able to observe what’s going on around me without being caught up in it.
Abiding in our center is something we all long for and need. Life is filled with storms and no one wants to be caught in the midst of a tumultuous force and have no safe haven.
Where are Your Centers?
Our center can be a place. For some it’s a building like a church, cathedral, synagogue, or mosque. For others it’s being near water, like the ocean, a river, or a babbling brook. Many find peace when sitting in the woods.
There are certain places where the very air surrounding the area centers me. Oak Creek Canyon, outside Sedona, Arizona, has that effect on me. I can drive through it, camp and hike in it, or stand at the overlook on Highway 89-A coming from Flagstaff, and feel a sense of peace and belonging.
Riding through Healy’s Pass in the Caha Mountains on the Beara Peninsula in Ireland, fills me with that same sense of solitude and safety. I feel quiet and peaceful when there.
Many are centered by sights and sounds. Different types of music, colors, rainbows, sunsets and sunrises can move us into a place of awe and quiet.
I have two CDs that are my favorite: Atlantis Angelis by Patrick Bernhardt, and Spiritual Beings Having a Human Experience by Anael. This music reaches into my soul and soothes me. Canon in D by Pachelbel has the same effect. It’s crescendo transports me to another place.
To hear Canon in D click on: http://youtu.be/hOA-2hl1Vbc
Riding through the Blue Ridge and Allegheny mountains in the fall and seeing the spectacle of the changing leaves brings me to tears. If I’m driving I have to pull over to the side of the road and take deep breaths.
Theses places and sights elicit within me the feeling of being in a cathedral, surrounded by and filled with the divine
Life does not always present us with the opportunity of living in our favorite places or hearing and seeing that which soothes us. We get caught in traffic jams, babies cry, children scream, the car breaks, or we lose a job or a love. Daily,we are faced with challenges that make it easy to slip out of our center. We need to have a means that will bring us back to our quiet core.
Bringing mindfulness and presence to our life is the quickest way to refocus our Self. Since this is a practice, the more we do it, the easier it becomes. The way I bring awareness to my life is:
1. I take deep, conscious breaths from my belly. Shallow breaths from the shoulders will not bring you to a place of peace. For instruction, please see: http://www.livestrong.com/article/367444-breathing-diaphragmatic-exercise/
2. I consciously take a step back and look at the storm. I ask myself,”what’s going on here?” and “What thought did I have to create this?”
3. I then take the thought, give it a name and hold it before me as I give awareness to it.
An example would be: I see I’m feeling anxious. As I step back to see what’s been running through my mind, I realize I’ve had a conversation with myself about something someone said or did to me. If the thought incites fear, I have the name FEAR. If its hurt, I have the word PAIN.
I might say, “I see you, pain.” I then identify how it feels in my body. It may feel like a snake coiled tight around my neck, or like a vise in my gut. I then close my eyes and take a few deep breaths from my belly as I lean into it and let it be. I do not fight it or make it wrong because it just it was it is.Once you cultivate a habit of stopping throughout the day and taking deep conscious breaths from your belly, you will then understand the peaceful results of this practice.
4. The breaths always take me back to my core and I am able to go about my day. I may move in and out of my center many times throughout the day, especially if there has been a storm brewing. When I notice I’m out of a place of peace, I stop for a moment and repeat the process of bringing awareness to it, and deep breathing.
Sometimes it takes 30-45 seconds to re-center, other times it takes a few minutes. The more you practice doing this, the more adept you become.
This process may seem like a lot to some, but consider the alternatives. We could pop a pill, take a drink. make a joke, go shopping, do busy work, or turn the TV on as a distraction. These may work for a while, but they are all temporary fixes. The underlying problem is still there, and as long as we do not face it and process it, it will continue to surface.
Personally, I would rather live in a peaceful state knowing, if necessary, I can find my way back to it.
How about you? Where is your center, your place of quiet within? How do you get back to your center, when you notice you’ve moved out of it?
When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron http://www.amazon.com/When-Things-Fall-Apart-Difficult/dp/1570623449
Mindfulness for Beginners by Jon Kabat-Zinn http://www.amazon.com/Mindfulness-Beginners-Reclaiming-Present-Moment–/dp/1604076585/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1335798096&sr=1-1
- Become Peace (ipoem.co.uk)