You’ve heard people say “I’m not feeling centered right now” or “He seems very centered”. If you do not relate to statements about being centered or experience that yourself, you can benefit from increasing your kinesthetic awareness. Being centered is a real aspect of the felt sense that is integral to living a healthy, happy, embodied life.
Like being grounded (my previous post), being centered is a body energy that has a direction:
There are many ways to find your center, and there are different names for it: the literal center, the energetic center, the center of gravity. What’s important is to find one that makes you feel stable in your being.
Here’s how to find your literal center:
Stand up barefooted. Wiggle a little to release tension. Ground yourself.
Locate the plane that divides your body into left and right halves. In the front, your sternum (breastbone), navel, and pubic bone mark it; in the back, your spine (unless you have alignment issues like scoliosis).
Here’s a little trivia: This “line” corresponds to two meridians in Chinese medicine, the conception vessel (front) and governing vessel (back).
Now imagine the plane that divides your body into upper and lower halves. It can help to look in a mirror or even a tape measure to find this. Depending on the relative length of your legs, torso, neck, and head, it will lie between your pubic bone and solar plexus somewhere around your navel.
Now imagine the plane that divides your body into front and back, somewhere in the center of your torso.
The place where those three planes meet (left/right, upper/lower, front/back) is your literal center.
To find your energetic center, send your awareness into your literal center. Move your attention around in that area, and you may notice a slightly stronger sensation marking your energetic center. Practice moving your attention out of your energetic center and back in.
A quick way of finding center is to put your hands in prayer position with shoulders relaxed and forearms parallel to the floor. The place where the bottom of your hands meet or thereabouts marks your center. It is not exactly a pinpoint. I experience my center as being about the size of a tennis ball.
Here’s another way to get centered: Stand with your feet hip width apart, knees relaxed, body slightly loose, and close your eyes. Rock slightly forward, shifting more weight onto the balls of your feet. Rock slightly backward toward your heels. Rock to the left and then to the right.
Now center yourself with your weight evenly distributed front/back and left/right. Are you feeling a sense of stability? Good. You’re centered.
Each body also has a center of gravity, which has to do with the body’s mass. Think of ice skaters spinning. They could not perform safely without keen awareness of their centers of gravity.
Usually women’s center of gravity is a bit lower than men’s, because of how the chest and pelvis are proportioned.
If you already know where your center of gravity is, you probably already know how to be grounded and centered. If you don’t know, it’s discovered through movement, and you can begin to discover it by standing and twisting your torso from side to side, or by whirling/spinning.
Words indicating the centering energy: being centered, off-kilter, balanced.
I hope these methods have helped you experience first-hand being centered.
Now combine it with being grounded, and notice how being both grounded and centered may differ from how you usually experience life. Does it add a dimension of feeling, sensation, or awareness? Does it add richness to everyday experience?
Thanks to Brian Mahan, SEP, for the inspiration.