Each morning before my prayers and energy sessions, I take a few minutes to centre myself. All those loose bits of thoughts, fragments of data, opinions and whatnot need to settle down a bit. Some days it is easier than other days. I give myself as much time as I need; time pressure clouds up the energy. Sometimes I step outside to let the fresh air and trees do good things to my energy. Sometimes I just stay at the computer.
My technique isn't unique. I start with the breath. I breathe and let the oxygen suffuse the body. Let the rhythm of breathing stabilize the energy. At this moment, nothing else needs my attention. I'm just relaxing where I am and paying attention to the air on my cheeks and breath in my body. I'm not 'trying' to centre myself. The energy of 'trying' takes us to a different place.
If I need an image to help, I imagine I'm like an old person sitting in the sun watching children at play with an attitude of nothing left to do.
When do I know I'm well centred? Sometimes, I feel a tickle at the top of my head, as though my hair there is standing on end. Not everyone gets sensations like this; for all I know it could be pathological. But when it appears, it shows me I'm about as centred as I can be at that time.
From that space I can let my energy spread out to wherever it needs to go. Centring relaxes the mind. And a relaxed mind gives us access to something larger, something rich and fluid.
Still, it isn't about accomplishing anything, it's about revealing the quiet state of mind that already exists under the shiny things that tend to capture our attention. Then letting that quiet state become the star of the show.
I don't do this just in the mornings. It's a handy tool when I am busy or stressed out or just want to change mental or emotional gears. I stop often when walking the trails. I take a breath, adjust my (usually poor) posture and then carry on once I feel refreshed. Whether for morning prayers, for jumbled thinking, for a fresh perspective any time of day, centering gives me pause.
If you are new to centring yourself and want to practice this, start small. Decide what times you could practice. There are a million change points during a day. Like maybe just before entering your home after you've been out. Pause and centre yourself. Or when you settle onto the seat in the subway or bus. Or after a rest room break, before venturing out into the world again. Or to prepare for a meeting. Or first thing when you step outside in the morning.
Just stop and take a breath or two and let the suffusion and rhythm unwind some of the clutter.
This meditation is a good one to try. (It's in this month's newsletter.)