Moving from Center
When the big things feel out of control, focus on what you love, right under your nose.
~ Charlie Mackesy
We end February on a strange note, with loss, bereavement and conflict the theme of this past week. From the passing of a beloved dog to war breaking out in the Ukraine, it’s been surreal, the days painted with warm sunshine even as they feel a bit hollow and out of sorts. In a busy week, it was easy to keep some of it at bay with tasks and work asking for attention. And yet, in the stillness of this Sunday afternoon, it is writing that helps to feel the edges of what I’d packed away to reflect on later. In the end it was my Tai Chi teacher who helped to bring it all together during our early morning class where he urged us to move from your core. What seemed like endless repetitions later, perspiring with the effort to be effortless, the wisdom of the practice and its ancient lineage brought me back to what is central in my coaching, the practice of centering. More than ever, I’m reminded of how this practice is fundamental to our being in the world. The more we learn to move from center, from a place that’s closer to ourselves, the more we are in tune with the grace and rhythm of life. In a very pragmatic way, we are also able to take action, make decisions, stay focused and connect with what’s important to us, even during times of uncertainty and when under pressure.
Among other things, centering builds resilience, presence and awareness from our core, at the heart of which is practice. And even though practice can often sound terribly rigorous (it is), the beauty of embodied work is that there are so many ways to practice becoming who you want to be (otherwise why would you practice?). For the dancer to become the dance, for the singer to become the song (to borrow some analogies that point to embodiment), practice is necessary. Over the years, I’ve learned to weave in practices that speak to my heart and spirit as much as my body. Today, I choose the power of solitude, to give me clarity and spark my creativity, to make my fingers move steadily on this page – it’s a practice that helps me to get closer to what I care about. What you choose will depend on what brings you alive. In an ever-changing world with so many recent alarming events over the past few years, learning to move from center is a practice that will serve you well, at work, in relationship and with yourself. Find a movement practice that highlights an inner awareness of your body, your breath, your alignment (posture) and your emotions in the moment. Make it an intentional and frequent commitment to action. Slowly, you’ll notice a subtle yet powerful shift of how you see and experience your world.
Only when we integrate a practice does it become relevant to us in our daily lives. Some fast ways to do that on the go are slow down your breath; drop your attention to different parts of your body; use touch to physically feel your feet, your palms, your face; soft focus your eyes and go within to check breath, temperature, sensation; check in with your mood; notice your narrative (and language); learn the patterns of your body in relax or resist mode; find the ground of your center in what you care about. In this way, you can center while you walk, drive, ride, play and work, taking five minutes or 30. To move from center is to move in balance with your body, live from the commitments in your core and feel the power of your truth. To learn that is to know why center?