What is center? How do you choose to be centered, and why? In what ways can you develop a strong center?
As a student and instructor of the Japanese martial art Aikido, and as a professional speaker and trainer, I often present on this topic and, in addition, have made centering a life practice. I say practice, because that is what it takes to access the Center State on purpose.
Physically, the body’s center of gravity is a point in the lower abdomen – but it is also much more. It’s a quality of being that integrates body, mind and spirit: vitality increases, the senses are sharpened, and one is less affected by everyday irritations. The Japanese describe a centered person as having hara or strong ki, the inner quality that helps the student of Aikido develop to her fullest potential. Some say it is an attitude towards life, an ability to handle whatever may come. Athletes recognize the centered state as “the zone.”
Center is a condition we can cultivate. Thomas Crum, author of Journey to Center, says, “Centering is the art of being fully alive. And wherever the art of centering is practiced, things change dramatically.”
To train in centering, the Aikidoist practices a relaxed posture and directs the weight of her body towards her physical center. She also breathes into her center to enhance the grace and economy of her movement. You can do the same.
Breathe deeply. Exhale slowly. Relax and direct the weight of your body toward your center point. Now, think of a situation later today where it will be especially helpful to be balanced, calm and self-assured. Make a mental note to center when the time comes.
By becoming skilled at identifying the centered state, you can learn to choose it. This is critical in those key moments when purposeful action is needed.
Write back and tell me how centering helps you!