How to get centered: the second energy

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.

three planes dividing the body into halves

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.

Whirling Dervishes

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.

There is a crack in everything

Today I’m acknowledging the crack, still waiting for the light to get in.

I don’t know what’s going on astrologically, but since a couple of days ago I’ve felt a disturbance in my equanimity.

Anyone else feeling that way?

I hate naming names and casting blame, so I’ll just say that unknowingly, innocently, I subjected myself yesterday to an experience with another person that I never want to repeat. It threw me off, rattled me, and I’m still not centered.

A couple of other incidents before and after that have piled it on, that feeling of being uncentered.

One of them that I feel okay writing about here was listening to part of Fresh Air with Terry Gross this afternoon while running errands in my car. She was interviewing a writer on economics who said that Goldman Sachs helped Greece hide its debt in order to be admitted to the European Union.

Once admitted, Greece had access to very low interest rates and proceeded to borrow lots of money and do things like raise salaries without any accompanying rise in income.

Now Greece has no way of repaying its debt, and it could affect the European Union and the world economy, which as we know is already not in good shape.

“This was not a one-off situation,” he says. “You look at the financial crisis in Europe, and the fingerprints of American investment bankers are everywhere. The financial collapse encouraged the worst sort of behavior. At the same time they were making bad loans in the United States, they were encouraging the same sort of behavior at the government level in Europe. The basic problem was, historically the role of the financier was to vet risk and make sure risk was evaluated. That got perverted in recent times, and instead the financier helped disguise risk.”

I’m feeling a lot of empathy for the OccupyWallStreet movement. Most of us feel it, that “things aren’t right.” Corporations are not people. Best bumper-sticker I’ve seen recently:

I refuse to believe that corporations are people until Texas executes one.

I’ve felt for a while that I want to live sustainably on something close to a cash basis, with no mortgage and as little debt as possible.

I want to grow some of the fresh produce I eat, and I want to grow it organically from non-GMO seeds.

I want a skill I can barter.

Because I don’t know what’s coming, and it may get worse before it gets better.

That said, I’m going to meditate for a spell and get myself recentered.

Claiming some me time

Like the Energizer bunny, I’ve just kept going and going, with work and training and teaching and transitioning toward a new home, and then things started to go not so well. Low back-ache, fatigue, muscle tension, losing things, not handling a situation well, emotional sensitivity, feeling close to overwhelm.

As in, “If one more difficult thing happens, I’m going to lose it, and it’s not going to be pretty.”

As much as I like to meet life from a place of strength and resilience, sometimes that isn’t what’s real.

So I declared this afternoon as me time. You know. Solitary unpressured time — several hours of it — to rest, ruminate, and recover.

I even cancelled my restorative yoga class, which I try not to do, because I know when you need it, you need it, and it’s disappointing if it’s not available.

Yogis and yoginis, namaste. It’s savasana time for me, and for you if you need it! And, I am changing our class time to 7:30-9 pm so we can all have more “day” to enjoy on Sundays, then eat lightly, do the class, drive home, and go to bed all relaxed.

How does that sit with you?

We all need time to be active, time for sleep, and time for rest. In this case, I have not been getting enough rest.

Rest is when I check in with myself and get back on track, reconnect with myself and recenter.

It’s actually one of the best parts about being human. That we can do this!!!

And now, I’m going within, to get in touch with my feelings, breathe, maybe cry a little, curl up with Mango, and get some rest. And plan how to intervene with myself a little bit sooner so this doesn’t happen again. I hate disappointing people! I believe it may be time to restart my regular sitting practice, which has become irregular.

Yep. This is what happens when I don’t meditate. Yep, I’m really remembering that now.