Finding Your Center
Let me share my thoughts and hopefully some inspiration for you about the theme of this e-newsletter, finding center in turbulent times. This will be my first "installment" in my trilogy (3 monthly e-newsletter's) focusing on three different approaches to finding our center. I feel this "task" of finding center amidst the storm of our lives so very important that I want to dedicate a series of columns to this life skill.
I don't declare to be part of any established religion per se, but I integrate elements and practices that feel right for me. So, in my semi-Buddhist Meditation practice this morning I began by reciting a few traditional prayers including a set of prayers called the four immeasurable ones; one of the four immeasurable phrases states, "May all beings remain in equanimity, free of attachment, and aversion." Then, something important happened.
As I said this phrase, my own interpretation emerged, one that fits my worldview a bit more comfortably, "May all beings find their center amidst the turbulence of our compulsions, clinging, resistance, and rejection within our lives and towards our own feelings."
As I personalized this traditional prayer, my meditation shifted in a profound way as I owned this deep wish within me-a wish to live in a world where we all could do our best to find our center amidst the storm. I was able to open into spaciousness and stillness amidst the profound agitation of fear that I was experiencing this morning.
And I spontaneously carried that intention into the rest of my day -an inherent desire to move towards center as my normal day's turbulent reactions to life occurred including moments containing the energy of compulsion, "I gotta do this now" or "I gotta have this now" and moments containing the energy of resisting and rejecting my experience, "I don't like my feeling of humiliation that I'm feeling now."
Some of you may want to know, what is this place called "center?" I want to suggest that center is in our hearts. As we access acceptance and love, born from our hearts, and direct this inner warmth towards our experience, we are moving towards center, our spiritual center. We are linking our human experience to our spiritual center. This soulful act of embracing our humanness is a transformative practice and I feel, the centerpiece of healing. To find our center, we need to find love.
If we can link whatever painful experiences, uncomfortable emotions in the body, agitation in the mind with a few precious moments of honest acceptance from our heart alchemy happens.
In order to do this we have to pause and feel what we feel. We need to take stock of our state of mind and body. When we choose to pause from the momentum of our day and feel our body experience (including our state of mind) we have taken the first step. If we notice an uncomfortable or distressing state of mind-body, we can then open to our heart.
To try this for yourself, consciously shift your focus from the distress for a few moments, and perhaps place your hand on your heart and notice the expanding of your heart as you inhale and the softening of your heart as you exhale. Imagine breathing into and out of your heart. Invite the sense of love or acceptance from your heart. Take a minute for this, opening to the felt sense of love and acceptance.
Then allow yourself to link these two states within the same moment-your state of distress with your open heart. You might add this phrase, "May I hold this difficult feeling within the warmth and openness of my heart."
Something in your body and nervous system will shift or transform. Your heart will grow! This is spiritual alchemy, this is the humbling journey of loving all of ourselves!
May we find our center, our hearts amidst the storms,