In life, we constantly face stressful situations.
Right now, even as I adjust the halo around my head feeling super-proud of myself for posting on five blogs for three days in a row (that’s 15 posts, people, and includes the writing, formatting, stressing over images and creating pins and whatnot)—I am truly intimidated about doing this consistently for 27 more days. Really! As much as I love the A to Z Challenge, the stress mounts when work deadlines also loom, along with the usual routine stuff.
Do you experience that kind of pressure, too?
Thing is, stress is a standard part of life. It’s just that the levels vary depending on what we’re facing at the time. Sometimes we let our nerves get the better of us and allow feelings of anxiety freak us out. Our hearts beat faster, we feel breathless, sometimes sweat—all symptoms of anxiety.
The good news is, I have learned an effective technique called “Centering” to redirect all this nervous energy into positive concentration.
And I am about to share it with you, because I am sure I am not alone when it comes to freaking out over that never-ending to-do list or an important deadline!
Best part? This technique is great for children as well, what with exam-time stress and other performance pressures. So as you learn to do this, please also teach it to your children.
Read/bookmark/pin: Is meditation good for your kids?
What is Centering?
An ancient visualization technique in Aikido the Japanese defensive martial art of spiritual harmony, centering guides you towards focusing on the here and now by taking power away from all those negative thoughts. The result? You stay grounded and stable.
Aikido trains your mind to control the body’s reaction with the concept of “qi”. See, our mental and physical power is generated from the flow of energy around our body. When we become stressed, we lose energy. So centering redirects the negative energy so that we benefit from it.
Can you recall a time when you were scared or stressed? What was your physical reaction? Breathlessness? Sweaty palms? Shaking? Rapid heartbeat?
Okay. Now, just think of these feelings as an outcome of energy flowing through your body. When you practice centering, you use your mind to redirect this energy to the center of your body, producing inner calm.
Practice centering to improve your focus and manage stress. You can use it before a stage performance, an exam, an important meeting, a game/match, before a tough conversation, an event and just about any time you need to gather your wits around you. Centering will help you express yourself clearly, compassionately and effectively.
Here is a step by step guide to centering
Did you know that whenever you accomplish something effortlessly and with focus, you are already practicing centering? Yes, you are.
Because you are awesome!
Now let’s put a structure to this centering so that you can maximize your focus! It is easy and there are just three steps!
Step 1 Focus on Your Breathing
Breathe deeply, consciously, using your diaphragm to inhale air into your lungs.
Here’s how you do deep breathing
- Lie down comfortably.
- Place a hand on your stomach.
- Inhale deeply through your nose.
- The air will push against your hand.
- Move only your stomach.
- Don’t move your chest and shoulders.
- Exhale slowly through your mouth.
Focus on your breathing. As you breathe slowly and deeply, release the tension from your body. Scan your body, starting with your toes, working your way up, focusing on each group of muscles. Relax any muscles that feel tense.
Step 2: Locate Your Center
Next, find your physical center of gravity, which is about two inches below your navel. Focus your mind on this area. Soon you will find yourself feeling grounded and stable.
Whenever you feel stressed, focus your attention on this center—that area below your navel—to feel balanced and in control. Breathe deeply as you concentrate on this area to feel centered.
Step 3: Channel Your Energy
It’s time now to redirect your energy towards achieving your goal. To visualize all the energy in your body flowing into your center, use imagery of your choice.
One example I can give you is to imagine it as a bright balloon. Imagine putting all your negative thoughts into this balloon. When you inhale, say : “I let…” and when you exhale, say “go!” Imagine this balloon floating away! If you want to imagine your energy as a ball, visualize throwing it away into the distance. Essentially, you are letting go of all that’s stressing you out.
Now imagine your center filled with calm, free from stress and tension.
When you inhale again, focus on what you want to accomplish. Focus on positive thinking.
I like to use an affirmation where I imagine positive outcomes. Use one of your favorite quotes.
The whole idea behind the centering exercise is to remove imagined problems and what ifs from your mind and fill it with confidence.
Do practice this and let me know. At any rate, practicing deep breathing will take you half way there!
Wednesday Wisdom is a series with short bursts of easy-to-consume wisdom in the form of stories, quotes, anecdotes, reflections and humor.