The essential task of spirituality is quite simple and yet very difficult, and that is to establish your Center, the central core within your very Being and to maintain it regardless of the winds of change and distractions, which pull you away from yourself. Your goal is to stay centered within yourself no matter what is happening around you, what enticements there are in the world that will pull you away from yourself, so that regardless of external events you are able to stay centered. This does not mean being stationary although it does mean being Still. You can carry your center with you wherever you go and you can replenish the strength of your center by giving yourself quiet time and time to contemplate the parade that life unfolds before you. The point is not to be swayed from yourself by the desires and manipulations of others nor to be buffeted by the vagaries of the world.
Seeking external stimulation, validation and experiences is the direct opposite of a spiritual life where the focus is inward to the soul not outward to society. Directing your attention within and noticing what is happening there takes practice for compared to the drama of the external world what occurs on the inner plane is far more subtle than the smallest outer occurrence.
You can begin to center by setting an intention to do so. Intentions are powerful as we will soon discuss and begin to open the way to their expression once they are articulated. Next, it is necessary to provide the environment where you have the time, space and quiet to begin to establish a felt sense that you can return to when you feel the need to regain your center. The first physical step after setting your intention is to sit on a straight-backed chair in a quiet room. Once you are more skilled in this practice you could stand or sit anywhere in the midst of a whirlwind and maintain your center. But in the beginning it is important to make things as easy for yourself as possible so we begin with not external stimulation or distraction in a position that makes you aware of your body. Body awareness is an important part of centering yourself and later developing a greater level of mindfulness.
Begin by sitting with good posture in a quiet room. Place both feet flat on the floor and rest your hands in your lap with your palms facing upwards.
Scan your body starting with your scalp going down your face with special attention to your jaw. Then scan your neck, can you feel if it is positioned straight under your head or at an angle. How tight is your neck? Most people are constricted in their neck and shoulders, which inhibits the flow of energy through your body. Are there tense places in your back?
Direct your attention to these tight places and direct your breath into them so they can relax. Purposefully tense your shoulders and then drop them. Repeat this several times. Then direct your attention to your arms, your wrists and your fingers. Rotate your wrists in both directions and spread your fingers. Continue back to the shoulder blades and rotate your shoulders back to contract them and then relax to release them. Continue down your spine till you feel your sit bones making a hard contact with the chair. Do they feel even? If not adjust them.
Then continue down your legs, your knees, ankles and toes. Bend your knees, rotate your ankles and spread your toes. All of these movements release tension. Do not rush this process as you are establishing a template you can refer when you lose your sense of self, your sense of being centered.
This experience will give you a felt sense, a sense in your body of how it feels to be relaxed.
Once you complete this process and over time it can become rapid with familiarity, you can direct you mind to be aware of inner activity. What are you aware of now that the large sensations have dissolved. What thoughts come to mind to be considered or dismissed? Eventually you will be free of thoughts or body sensations, you will just be. That’s when you know you are centered. That is the experience to which you will want to return as often as possible.
Be patient with yourself. This is a journey that takes time and repetition. Like riding a bike, however, once you achieve the balance point it it is with you forever.