There have been many times that I have had people come to me to help them “get centred”, which I have no problem with. I enjoy helping people learn the tools that it takes to do something like that. What I find disappointing at times is that they come to me when they are already in the middle of crisis and their life is blowing up all around them and then they expect that in one short hour I will have Humpty Dumpty put all back together. This is not the way to go about things.
People need to understand that becoming centred is not a quick fix. It is something that one has to work at long and hard in order to master. This is also not something that is done well in the confines of some remote temple on a mountain top somewhere in a foreign land. The only thing that accomplishes is helping one to become isolated and thus think that, through the isolation, they have become centred. They convince themselves that the rest of the world is simply an “illusion”. We have all heard that mumbo jumbo. I don’t buy it. Yes, the world is filled with illusions. But it is not an illusion in its entirety. The challenge that we, as humans, have is to find what is our truth and what is incongruent with that inner truth. Once we figure out what is or is not congruent, we are able to have a compass with which to guide our lives. We cannot accomplish this if what we are doing is completely denying the existence of the rest of the world around us by insisting that it is all an illusion. Denial is a big river indeed, but it belongs in Africa, not in our minds.
Yes, sometimes it is important to take a break from the hectic pace of the world. That is why there are places in remote areas where the loudest sound you will hear is that of a screen door slamming shut behind you. And it is completely alright to go to such places and take that well-earned break. But it is not alright to take a break from all of reality.
Furthermore, I have to ask this question. If you cannot find your centre in the midst of chaos, then how skilled are you at that, really? I used to think that isolation was the key. And in fact, truth be told, there is a part of me that would absolutely love to live 7 hours away from everywhere and everyone. But really, how effective would I then be? How would I contribute to the world if I were a complete hermit? I wouldn’t. So I live in an urban centre and I go about my work as a shaman and healer amidst all the hustle and bustle of said urban centre. In fact, it is likely those who live in such places that need people like me even more than those who live in peaceful locations. So here I am, available to those in need.
A teacher of mine once trained me to become centred and thus observant. After many skill building exercises over the course of a few months, she would then take me to a busy street corner, have me stand so that I would be looking into her eyes, and then she would ask me questions about my surroundings. I would have to maintain eye contact while answering the questions. And the questions could be about pretty much anything in front of me, beside me, or behind me. Admittedly, I did rather well at this part of the exercise, so much so that she decided that her work with me was done and I could then move on to the next teacher with the next set of expertise. Awesome. But I never forgot what she said to me. She said, “Well, my dear, you have accomplished what many have spent lifetimes pursuing. You are able to find and maintain your centre amidst chaos and hustle and bustle. Congratulations. Hold onto that and never let that go.”
To this day I maintain that centre. This is likely why people so often are both drawn to me or are put off by me. In centre, one does not fall prey to games and manipulations. In centre one tends to radiate calm and peace. In centre, one is able to find one’s way without relying on everyone else around them to define one or to push one in any direction.
So some of the things that I learned along the way that have helped me to find and maintain my centre are:
- Meditate…daily. This is not “creative visualisation”. That is something akin to meditation, but is not actually meditation. Meditation is something that completely calms and centres a person, without the ego’s need for an adventure to create entertainment along the way, which is more what visualisation is about. It is slow, peaceful, and affects the metabolic rate so strongly that in a complete crisis one can become calm and clear headed. My favourite form of meditation is Zazen Meditation, whereby one simply turns one’s attention to the sensation of the air moving in and out of one’s body. With that consciousness, we can then begin to regulate how that air moves through us. We begin to breathe deeper and slower, which allows oxygen to fill us up to the brim, instead of only entering the top 1/4 of our lungs.
- Learn how to extend your own energy consciousness so that you are able to sense what is all around you. There are a lot of styles to this that will work. The best thing to do is to try each of them and find out what works best for you.
- Learn how to contemplate instead of ruminate. Rumination works up frustration, anger, rage, fear, helplessness and disdain. Contemplation brings us congruent answers to what we need to do in order to work with whatever the situation may be. Always ask yourself, “Am I contemplating? Or am I ruminating?” If you are feeling like a boiling pot that is being stirred while the flames beneath are being increased, then you are definitely ruminating. If you are feeling like there are avenues that are available to you that will help you to respond to any given situation in a calm and healthy way, then you are contemplating.
- Bring every bit of peace and calm that you feel as a result of any retreat, meditation, or holiday with you into the world around you. That is what our jobs as humans actually are. Bring your gifts into the world and share them. Even access that feeling of calm and goodness while you are driving in crush hour traffic. Breathe it through you and know that you are only able to drive your own vehicle, so there is no sense in getting angry or frustrated with whatever antics other drivers are performing. Breathe. I often access the feeling I have when I am on a beach at sunset. There is something calm and magical about that experience. So that is where I take my body’s responses while driving through crush hour traffic. It helps tremendously.
- Do only what you must in order to get the task done. When we pressure ourselves to do more than is necessary, we stress ourselves out. Yes, be motivated, but also do what is necessary, not what is simply expected of us. So when I am driving in crush hour traffic and I come to a red light, I stop, take my hands off the steering wheel, and breathe. That way I take myself out of “driving” mode into “resting” mode. This allows me to become more clear minded at every red light intersection, which enables me to function much better at all the other times when my vehicle is actually moving. When I am typing for this blog, I type very fast…almost as fast as I can think! But now and then I just stop, stretch, take a breath, and relax. Then the next part of what I am writing about flows through me in a more efficient way. When I perform any task, I don’t push the task along and try to create something that it was not intended to be. I simply do the task at hand. If I am washing dishes, I wash them well. I don’t try to redesign my kitchen while washing my dishes.
When we put into practice little things like this, then we don’t end up in the heat of crisis as often, and when we do, then we already have the tools available to us. We can then approach the crisis with calm and serenity, staying centred and clear headed throughout the crisis situation.