“Centering” isn’t a major concept in any therapeutic modality that I practice, yet it is so integral to how I conceive mental health and thriving. In my practice, “centered” means you are aware of your body and able to work with it as a partner and an ally. You take good care of your physical self and are rewarded with mental clarity and intuition. In short- good stuff!
We all know what it’s like to be “off center”- we make choices we later regret, say things we don’t mean, and generally don’t feel like ourselves. If we’re lucky, or we’ve done a lot of personal work- we can sometimes know that we’re off center. But knowing doesn’t always mean we can “snap back” to a clear, calm sense of self.
Here are some ways that I, and my clients, know that we are centered
- We can feel our feet on the ground
- We can breathe easily
- Our heads feel pretty clear
- We are aware of what emotions we’re feeling
- We are aware of where we are in space
- We can engage with others with clear boundaries and genuine curiosity
- We feel connected to our values
Getting “off center” is a natural part of day-to-day life and usually nothing to worry about- unless you spend the majority of your time there. You can maintain center by attending to your physical and emotional needs:
- Making sure you are well hydrated
- Making sure you are well fed
- Making sure your body is comfortable
- Taking a mental inventory of your stressors and fears
If you think about centering as a bullseye, this basic self-care will at least get you near the outer circle! Once you can actually see your target, you can refine a little more by engaging mindfulness:
- What sounds can you hear? Notice sounds both close to you, inside the room or building you’re in, then sounds further away, perhaps a few blocks.
- Feel the weight of your body on whatever is supporting it right now (chair, bed, floor)
- How deeply can you breathe without pushing or forcing anything? If it’s shallow or fast, that’s totally fine. Focus on releasing tension with your exhales, and inviting the inhales deeper into your belly.
- What is the quality of your thoughts right now? Are they fast or slow, agitated or curious?
- Do you know how you’re feeling right now? If it’s “okay,” probe a little deeper to see if it’s something like “numb” or “content” or “distracted.”
I hope you can generally get yourself back to somewhere-near-center on your own, but if you’re having a hard time getting there frequently, it might be time to get some help. Schedule an intro call with me here to see if counseling is what you need to get back to your center.