879th Week: Coming Back to Center

During challenging times, it’s more important than ever to be able to move through whatever feelings might arise and eventually return to center. When we embrace the idea of our inevitable wholeness, where we make room for everything that is part of our body-mind being as human people, it helps to be able to cultivate a strong and reliable center as our internal home base. This home base becomes a place to reorient ourselves when we are activated without having to do battle with or banish what we feel.

For many of us at this time, there are feelings of grief, disbelief, and anger over issues that reflect societal inequities and injustice. In this week’s practice in conscious living, there’s no request not to feel whatever you are feeling. Instead, there’s an invitation to orient to your grounded center in addition to what you feel so you can carry with you a place to land and rest when you need to do so.

  • Inside each of us in a natural “landing place”. Take in an easy breath and gently blow it out through your mouth. Do this a couple of times. 
  • Now, begin this practice by following the next out-breath all the way down into your body and notice where you land. This will most likely be your ever-present internal home base, your natural “landing place.”
  • As you settle into this internal center of gravity, take a moment to notice the sensations that naturally arise as you hang out there. There are no right or wrong responses. There’s only what you experience in your unique internal home base.
  • Take some time to become truly settled, which allows the rest of your body to settle, as well. When you do this, you offer yourself some “time off”, some time when you are focused on settling rather than on what upsets you. This is no way negates the validity of your feelings. Instead, it’s a way to offer your body and psyche some breathing space and moments of returning to regulation.
  • Notice the sensations of settling. Those are what you want to cultivate, as the more you spend time with them, the more easily they will arise when you need them.
  • Also notice the tone and quality of your self-talk. Self-talk is a form of self-hypnosis and our thoughts often affect us as if we were adding logs to the fire of the upset we may already feel.
  • Don’t fight with your thoughts. Simply notice them with the awareness that they can flow by on your always-moving stream of consciousness. There’s nothing you need to do other than to allow them to move on by. The key thing here is not to amplify them, not to add fuel to the fire.
  • Now come back to the place in you that I’m calling your center, your internal center of gravity, your internal landing place and home base. Spend a bit more time noticing the sensations that spontaneously arise in your body when you rest your attention there.
  • Even when you feel upset, your internal home base is always there. Actually, we all have an underlying steadiness that is part of our landing place and it’s a steadiness that cannot be disturbed. Notice if you can sense or lean into that underlying steadiness for a moment or two. Even when you can’t feel it, it’s there…

Another way to find some ease when you’re upset is to take three slow and easy breaths, remembering to breathe out through your mouth. When you breathe out through your mouth, you automatically stimulate your healthy parasympathetic response, which is the relaxation response.

There’s yet another way to find some ease, and this one comes from Peter Levine, the originator of Somatic Experiencing(r). Take in a breath and then, on the out-breath, make the sound “vooooo”. As you do this, notice the sound vibrating throughout your abdomen. At the end of the breath, allow your body to breathe in the next breath spontaneously, to let your body breathe you. There’s no work to do with this. It’s an invitation to relax, to settle a bit more.

As with all these practices, please remember to bring along curiosity as your constant companion and to pat gently on the head any judgments that may arise, allowing them to move on through without your having to do anything with or about them. The key here is to bring your awareness to those moments when it would support you to return to center and take a few moments simply to settle and to be present without having to do anything else.

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