Five ways to get back into your center

Photo by thruCJzEyez. Used in accordance with Creative Commons.

Photo by thruCJzEyez. Used in accordance with Creative Commons.

Now that you’ve seen what it feels like to be out of your center, how can you get back into your center?

Before I describe practices for re-centering yourself, let me make two foundational statements about our centers:

First, you must know and remember that you have a center you can return to. For some of you, your situation is such that you don’t realize there’s another way your life could be. You read the list in my previous post (insert link) about what being out of center looks like and thought: “That’s my life, and I’m stuck there forever.”

That was my life several years ago. I was consistently caught up in anxiety and guilt to the point where I thought that that was my normal state of being. I didn’t think I was out of center – I thought that that was the only option available. Yes, I was a Christian at the time. But from where I was, I couldn’t see any other options.

I’m here now to encourage you: If you think that you’re stuck in your situation forever, and especially if you’re a Christian in this situation, you have hope. The good news is that you are not stuck there. Jesus can free you from any situation and bring you into a life of joy and peace.

If you’re not a Christian and you’re reading this while you’re in a place of brokenness, there is hope for you too. Your life does not have to go on this way. If you are willing to follow Jesus and live by everything he teaches, then you too can have joy, peace, and purpose regardless of your life circumstances.

Second, you must be assured that your personal center is strong enough. For me, my center is that at the core of my being, I am united with Jesus through the Holy Spirit. In this place, I have unconditional love, a friendship that lasts through eternity, purpose for my life, and so much more. For you, it is worth asking yourself: when I go into my center, how strong is it? How much power is there to meet and overcome the circumstances before me?

Now that we’ve had this foundational discussion, here are five practices for re-centering yourself:

  1. Centering Prayer. Find a comfortable place to sit. Start by saying God’s name (e.g., “Lord”, “God”, “Jesus”). Then just sit with God. Whenever a thought comes up, let it go by like a boat floating down a river. If you find yourself attaching to a thought, simply repeat God’s name again and go back to sitting.
  2. Aikido standing pose. Stand erect, with feet shoulder-width apart. Place one hand two inches below your belly button. Place the other hand in the same spot on your back. Take deep breaths. Imagine your feet are growing roots into the ground and your neck is extending to the sky. Continue to breathe deeply. If it helps, you can press on your abdomen with your hands to cause your mind to focus there (your center) rather than your head.
  3. Prayer of Recollection. Pray “Lord, at my core, I am united with You. I am fully forgiven and fully accepted by You.” Talk with God about whatever comes up in your soul. Alternatively, you could create a declaration about yourself, such as, “Lord, in Christ I am a worthy, powerful, courageous man.” Again, talk with God about what comes up in your soul.
  4. Any bodily, flow-based activity that kicks you out of your mind and back into your body. Basically, you want to work out of your body and to stop thinking. Exercise can be a good choice here. I use beatboxing and singing quite a bit. Sometimes improv theater helps me as well.
  5. Practice solitude. Here’s a link to posts I’ve done on this topic.

Question: What do you do to re-center yourself?

Leave a comment to continue our conversation.

What does an uncentered life look like?

Photo by SalFalko. Used in accordance with Creative Commons.

Photo by SalFalko. Used in accordance with Creative Commons.

You’ve learned what being centered on God can look like. (If you missed the previous posts, click here or here.) Now let’s ask the opposite question. How can you tell when you’re not centered on God? Here are some characteristics that could describe when you’re not centered:

  • Anxiety.
  • You regularly worry about circumstances in your life. This is not merely thinking about them, but actively spending time consider how to handle them for the sake of self-preservation.
  • You’re constantly down on yourself. You have a low sense of your self-worth. It’s easy for you to shame and guilt yourself.
  • Circumstances bother you. People bother you. And you focus your energy on changing them so your life could be easier.
  • Distractions grab you more easily because you’re not anchored and focused on who you are and what you’re doing.
  • Fear grips you and leads you to where you don’t want to grow.
  • You have this gnawing sense that you’re not living the way you could.
  • You think that you have to perform in order to receive affirmation, worth, acceptance, or love.
  • You’re thinking about things and doing things, but you’re not fully present in them.
  • Your breathing feels more shallow. Experiences and sensations don’t feel like they go all the way down into you.
  • You feel that you’re living more in your head than in your gut.

Now that you’ve seen what it’s like to not be living in your center, you’re probably wondering what you can do to return to your center when you’re out of it. Stay tuned…that’s the topic of the next post!

Question: When do you find yourself not living out of your center? What does it feel like?

Leave a comment to continue our conversation.

What does a centered life look like?

 

Previously, I discussed the benefits of living a centered life. This post contains an exercise to help you further ponder the centered life. Below is a psalm that describes what a centered life looks like. As you read it, notice the different characteristics the psalmist uses to describe his experience of being centered on God.

Keep me safe, my God,

for in you I take refuge.

I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord;
apart from you I have no good thing.”
I say of the holy people who are in the land,
“They are the noble ones in whom is all my delight.”
Those who run after other gods will suffer more and more.
I will not pour out libations of blood to such gods
or take up their names on my lips.

Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup;
you make my lot secure.
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
surely I have a delightful inheritance.
I will praise the Lord, who counsels me;
even at night my heart instructs me.
I keep my eyes always on the Lord.
With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
my body also will rest secure,
because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,
nor will you let your faithful one see decay.
You make known to me the path of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence,
with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

(Psalm 16)

Question: To what extent would you say the experience described in this psalm is true for you?

Leave a comment to continue our conversation.

Centering: a critical element to living the life you want

If you want to live the life you’ve dreamed of, then you must live from your center. Here’s the reality: As a Christian, you are united with the Holy Spirit at the core of your being. You are fully forgiven and fully accepted in Christ. You have self-worth because God adopted you as His child. When you live out of that place, good things happen. When you don’t, you are prone to living out destructive patterns and failing to achieve what you desire.

Photo by Bill Gracey. Used in accordance with Creative Commons.

Photo by Bill Gracey. Used in accordance with Creative Commons.

Recently I experienced living from my center in a very tangible way. As part of a leadership seminar, I went to a ropes course, where I had the opportunity to climb a 30+ foot tree, stand on top of it, and jump off to catch a trapeze. At the top of the tree, it was extremely shaky, and I was trying to remain centered amidst the shaking that caused a lot of fear in me. However, when I turned around and caught sight of the trapeze, I remembered my original goal of catching it. Having my goal in sight triggered a moment of perfect centering: the tree abruptly stopped shaking, it felt like time stopped for a moment, and I had the opportunity to pause, take a deep breath, and take in the whole scene. It was a qualitatively different experience than every other moment while I was on top of the tree. I will always hold onto this moment to remember what being centered feels like.

So what can living from your center feel like for you? Here are some possibilities:

  • Peace.
  • Joy.
  • You know what you’re on this planet to do.
  • You have confidence and courage.
  • You’re no longer concerned about your self-image or self-worth. You have a solid sense of self. You enjoy yourself.
  • You know you cannot be shaken.
  • You feel fear, but are not controlled by it. You don’t make choices out of fear.

This series of posts will explore the topic of centering in greater depth. Future posts will include opportunities to further ponder what a centered life looks like, ways to tell when you’re not centered, and practices you can use to return to your center.

Question: When in your life do you experience the characteristics listed above?

Leave a comment to continue our conversation.

How to make the most of your time of solitude

This is Part 4 of a series of posts on solitude. Click here to begin with Part 1.

You’re in your solitude spot. You’ve removed all the noise and distractions. Now what do you do?

Here are four suggestions to help you get the most out of your time of solitude:

Photo by Natesh Ramasamy. Used in accordance with Creative Commons.

Photo by Natesh Ramasamy. Used in accordance with Creative Commons.

  1. Do nothing. Seriously. Just…nothing. Just sit there and enjoy the absence of noise. Close your eyes, breathe deeply, and…relax.
  2. Practice this prayer exercise: Open your time by calling God by Name. “God.” “Lord.” “Father.” Whichever Name you choose. Then sit in silence. Whenever a thought comes by, let it go rather than holding onto it, like watching a boat float by. If you find yourself dwelling on a thought, simply call God by Name again to refocus yourself and go back into silence.
  3. Journal in a stream-of-consciousness manner. This means that you have no plan for what you will write. Rather, you will write whatever comes up in your heart. Doesn’t have to be coherent or connected. It can be shallow or deep. Doesn’t matter. Simply write whatever comes up for you and be with God in it.
  4. Visualize God pouring His peace into you as you sit with Him. If you notice something blocking him from being able to pour peace into you, take it and offer it to Him. You can do this in your mind, or you can physically hold your hands out to Him.

 Questions: What do you do when you’re in solitude?

Leave a comment to continue our conversation.