How To Center Yourself Using Practical Exercises
I am a parent, a partner and I work full-time, make videos and run this website. Woah, sometimes I just wanna scream. Sound familiar? Sometimes I want to run up the tallest hill I can find and set up camp by myself, just to get some peace. I have a strong belief that the modern world plays a huge part in how we feel, how stressed we get and how many expectations we have for ourselves. It was these expectations for myself that made my anxiety even worse.
When was I going to be happy? when was I going to settle down, get a good job and feel at ease?
I’ve also often struggled with ‘provider syndrome‘. It’s what I refer to as the feeling of being the main provider for the family. It’s true that whilst the mother in a family does a hard job with the kids, the father can also feel extreme anxiety and stress from the knowledge a lot rests on their shoulders to make ends meet. That’s still me sometimes.
Welcome to the 21st century huh? Anyway, my road to recovery from my anxiety disorder has not been a straight one. It was full of ups and downs whilst I learnt a lot along the way, and still am. I learned many coping mechanisms, some short term, some long term. However, I’m all about the long term and I think you should be too.
One thing that has helped me to keep a level head has been checking in with myself by using centering exercises. I learned that you have to check in with yourself sometimes, keeping the connection between your conscious self and your subconscious self. I’ve written a lot about grounding yourself, which is rather similar to centering yourself and I encourage you to go check that out.
So let’s get down to business…
What Is Centering Yourself?
Centering is very similar to mindful practises and is very popular in the art of Aikido, the spiritual martial art or self defense. It’s ultimately a very peaceful practise.
Centering yourself is the idea of aligning yourself with the world around you. It’s about gathering your thoughts back into a straight line when they’re bouncing around all over the place. It’s something I’ve always struggled with personally.
Do you ever find yourself ‘stacking’ negative thoughts on top of each other and before you know it you feel all over the place? It’s common for many with anxiety disorders, or just parents! ha!
The bottom line is, it’s easy to become overwhelmed in modern life. To add to this ease, technology can also play a huge role in running your thoughts all over the place. The day to day distraction of things like Facebook for example engrain negative addictive habits in us. You can read how quitting Facebook reduced my anxiety here for example.
Centering yourself allows you to see things from a higher, and clearer perspective. It gives you the ability to pluck your wandering thoughts from the air and push them back into a straight line. You can start to clear your mind from the fuzziness.
Centering Exercises For A Clearer Mind
The Core Of Centering;
Like most spiritual practises, centering yourself involves concentration on the breathing. You know when you get so stressed you take a big breathe in and release it consciously? As if to sigh? Essentially, this is the kind of breathing (although calmly) we’ll be doing throughout our centering exercises.
There are a ton of centering exercises with meditation and spiritual centering but the below are some of my personal favourites.
A simple technique, the 5,5,5 exercise is about naming five things you can, see smell and taste. If you can name five things, go out of your way to smell, see and smell five things. This is a simple idea but you might struggle at first. To be prepared, make sure you have five things to taste. You can then use these five foods to see and smell.
The idea of this exercise is to mindfully connect yourself with the objects by consciously using your senses. and therefore re-connect with the present moment.
2. The Center Line
The center line (often called other things) is the practise of imagining a straight line down the middle of you head and body.
Imagine this line flowing down the middle of you, filled with energy as it passes downwards. See it as a light of energy that is lightly glowing and that is pulling you together.
3. The Gravitational Pull
Gravity is kind of important. Some days you’ll feel heavier than others, especially when you lie down and I don’t just mean because you had two desserts!
Connecting yourself to the gravitational pull of the planet can help you feel centered. Imagine the core of the earth as a glowing beaming light. It’s pulling you down with a force you cannot see. Let yourself become heavy as you stand or lie down.
Imagine the great force keeping you and your thoughts down on the ground, Mindfully become aware of the sensation in your legs as theY connect with the ground or your back if you’re lying down.
Allow your body to completely relax and consciously experience the force of gravity.
4. Find Your Center
Finding your center is simple. It’s in your very core. The idea here is that the core of your body has great energy which can be harnessed to keep your nerve and boost energy to other areas of your body.
When you’re in a difficult situation or feeling stressed, you can visualise your core to bring all of your busy thoughts back to one place allowing you to think clearer. You core balances you physically and mentally and so can provide you with a strong focus point.
5. Feel Your Heart Beat
The very thing that pumps life around your body is powerful. How often do we take our heartbeats for granted? It’s a bit like breathing, it just happens without us really thinking about it.
Yes, the human body is quite amazing and it takes a number of complex exercises to keep it going. I like to think of your heartbeat as your rhythm of life.. It beats at a steady rate, when you get stressed it beats faster.
However, it’s that steady beat that we can harness to feel more centered and more grounded. Hold your hand over your heart and allow the feeling of your chest to run through your arm and into your core.
Feel yourself becoming in tune with the beat and you’ll instantly feel more centered. This simple exercise is a great way to be mindful of your very living.
How To Center Yourself Closing Thoughts
Centering yourself can feel a bit weird sometimes, I get it. Being consciously aware of the movements and responses in your body is not something we do naturally.
The truth is, our minds and bodies react within an instant to a situation. Maybe someone cuts you up in traffic, maybe someone says something unnerving to you or something that you think is patronising.
Mindfulness exercises can open a gap between that incident and your reaction. Centring yourself after these situations is key. The above centering exercises are flexible and there are many more you can discover.
What is important is, when you come into contact with a tough situation and your thoughts and feelings start to race all over the place, you consciously make the effort to stop and realign your mind.
It is not easy. It is a practise. That’s why you should use these methods regularly. It’s ultimately a way of life, a lifestyle. It’s a lifestyle just like the anxious life I used to live. Thoughts and feelings become habit but we do have the choice how we react to things.
Sometimes it’s about stopping before you fly into a rage of anger. Most of the time it’s about remembering that the things that make you upset and angry are in fact not as important as you make them out to be in that very moment.
Practise makes perfect. When you’re feeling lost, try and center yourself using the simple methods we’ve mentioned. If you’ve tried them, please leave a comment below to let us know how it made you feel.
Here’s to your success – Sean