"Uhh....what the hell is Centering??"
What does it look like, what does it smell like? I never remember getting a set of "how-to" instructions of what one could do to center oneself.
In fact, I avoided it for the first month and chalked it up to "procrastination." I realized, though, that I was avoiding it because I didn't know where to start.
And now, several months later, I still don't know. But I'm learning. I'm practicing.
And it's fun. It's great to even know that it's POSSIBLE to learn, to try new things, to see what works.
I want to share my experience this morning and my intention to start off the day right.
I woke up with a few hours before I had to go to work. This is completely unstructured time, during which I hope to accomplish at least some of the dozen important tasks I have written down (by the way, blogging wasn't at the top of that list). These are plans and desires I have swirling around in my brain, bubbling up and competing for priority, and to be honest I habitually grapple with deciding what to do first. I feel anxiety and pressure in deciding, and these emotions provide cloudiness rather than the clarity I desire for my life. Although I'm used to the cloudiness, I'm no longer resigned to it. I believe it can be different.
So when I awoke, and decided to get out of bed, I felt a strong determination to get centered.
Before I even lifted my head from the pillow, I found a phrase to repeat, with pauses:
"I am grateful.
I am grateful.
I am grateful."
That seemed to get me started in the right place.
I should note: I did NOT reach for my phone. That is becoming increasingly difficult. But I know it robs me of my brainpower. My autonomy. My vigor. It seems so damn urgent. But it's not. It can wait.
The next thing I did was go outside. I mean, it's freaking 65 degrees at 10 in the morning, sunny with a light breeze. I would be crazy not to bask in that. Just go outside already, please. This is something I beg myself almost every day (or maybe my body is begging me). Please find an excuse to go outside. Need. Sun.
So I sit in a chair outside and find myself just relaxing, not with the intention of getting "centered" yet, just enjoying being outside, and soon I start running conversations in my head. Full-on conversations with people at work, like I have everything planned out in my head, and I rehearse this repeatedly. Mind you, this isn't intentional. I didn't decide to do it. This pre-enactment happened automatically.
I notice being lost in these thoughts, and then notice my body. It's tense. I can sense the hundreds of competing thoughts firing off in succession, and my eyes are blinking involuntarily, my face is twitching slightly. I have contractions and tightness in my face. Remember, overall I'm pretty relaxed, I'm not really anxious or stressed. And yet these exist in my body when I stop to notice them. Amazing what we live with and accept as normal.
I decide to let go of my thoughts, ground my feet, close my eyes, sit up in my chair, get comfortable, and let the thoughts go. I thank them, acknowledge them as they come, and then let them go. I do this for 10, 15 minutes. And I definitely feel a difference. I feel like I'm more ready to make clear decisions for my day.
Before I open my eyes, though, I don't feel done yet. So I decide to breathe. Big breaths. Deep inhalations, letting them fill the body and my belly. I decide to go for 30, like Mike suggested in a Facebook comment months ago. These are breaths that we don't have time for, because we're in a rush to the next thing. And so as I breath, I feel the thoughts just washing away. The rush of oxygen creates a tingling sensation that originates in my brain and flows down to the rest of my body. And I feel lightness. I feel alive. I feel in "control" of my thoughts. It creates this powerful energy that swells up bigger than me and doesn't leave room for any other thoughts.
I opened up my notebook to start my day and wrote down these words:
I have breath. I have life. I'm grateful.
I want to share this morning's experience with all of you because centering is so important to what we do as coaches. And if you're like me, you're still figuring out what the heck that even means, and how to incorporate it in our daily lives, let alone our coaching lives. And how do we do it quickly?
And so I'm experimenting. I'm trying things out. I don't think I have it pinned down, but I know I have some tools to start with. And as I notice what "works," I say, "Hmm, isn't that interesting?" Notice the phenomena, and go from there.
I hope you are finding ways that work for you. I hope you don't give up. I hope you find new times and new contexts to practice centering. At work during a meeting? Friday night in a bar? During dinner with the family? On your morning jog? Practice centering.
I invite you to share some of YOUR experiences here on this blog (it's open for comment - be the first one :) Or on Facebook. We can all learn immensely from each other, if we only take the time to share.