We often hear the advice from esteemed spiritual leaders to center ourselves, get ‘centered’, and it may seem awfully vague as to what exactly that means. If it is so good for us, then how do we do it? How do we know we are doing it properly? Does it mean something different in different traditions?
Being centered means we are anchored in both spirit and mind, logic and emotion, physical reality and the ethereal world. Being centered describes being in balance between these two seemingly disparate parts of ourselves. If we stay solely focused on our thoughts and our outside experiences, we find ourselves so fixated on our stories and what is going on around us that we take everything too seriously. This will lead to suffering. If we were to meditate too much, living in a dreamy, blissful state, we’d be too airy, too aloft, not connecting to the physical world and our responsibilities. It could be dangerous to drive in this state!
So what does being centered do for us? How do we ‘get there’?
Michael A. Singer in the Untethered Soul describes it this way: Take a moment to remember that you’re spinning on a planet in the middle of empty space. Then remind yourself that you’re not going to get involved in your own melodrama.
For me, these words bring about a sense of being a part of something much larger than my physical earthly life. It also puts our concerns in perspective — what does it really matter if someone got your parking spot or didn’t answer your text? If you’re centered when your spouse says something that would normally trigger your emotions, you look deeper, sensing what may be underneath the behavior, and you don’t over react. A sense of calm is present.
This is why meditation is useful. It balances the grounding of earthly life with our inner life, shifting our perspective back and forth with each day of practice. As our awareness moves back and forth, back and forth between these perceptions, our ability to be in balance increases. It becomes our new ‘normal’, so much so that being out of balance sets off emotional alarms that call us to come back, return to that state we established where we feel deeply connected to who we are and, at the same time, connected to the beautiful world and people around us.
Other ways to attain this balance is through inspired creativity, expressing through the arts, athleticism, creating in any form; those projects, passions and purposeful activities that connect you deeply to the divine. Solitude, daydreaming, walks in nature, the list is endless. Yoga is an activity designed to draw the attention inward to bring about this balance.
The more you do it the easier it becomes, just like developing any good habit.