Centering

Centering is one of the simplest and most common forms of contemplative practice. The “center” refers to a relaxed yet focused state of mind. Centering practice is especially helpful in the midst of strong emotional states such as excitement or anxiety, and is often used by athletes, public speakers, actors, and anyone who wants to feel stable and prepared before a potentially stressful event.

Anything that helps you feel tranquil and aware can become your centering practice.

Common Centering Methods:

  • Count numbers, such as counting down from 10 to dissipate anger
  • Repeat a word or phrase, such as a prayer or affirmation
  • Smile and relaxing your body
  • Go for a walk; get out into a different environment
  • Stretch
  • Close your eyes and breathe deeply
  • Concentrate on breathing, such as breathing out for a count of 8 and in for a count of 4
  • Count your breaths
  • Doodle or write
  • Carry or place near yourself a visual reminder to stay centered, such as a quote or image
  • Use sound to bring yourself back to your center. Periodically ring a bell, chime, or other gentle reminder.

Persistence is an important aspect of centering practice. Purposefully centering yourself many times throughout the day, even when you are not feeling particularly emotional or in need of centering, will help to deepen your practice.

Links

Using Yoga as a Centering Practice by Kelly McGonigal, Open Mind Open Body
Circle Breathing Centering Exercise by Joan Borysenko, Prevention Magazine