Finding Center: An Introduction
Being centered is kind of big deal around here.
I certainly mention it a lot. And yet, somehow? I haven’t really defined it for Circus readers. Oops. Let’s just take care of that now, shall we?
When I talk about being centered, it’s not some vague, wishy-washy woo-woo thing. Really, it’s pretty basic.
Being centered means that the awareness of who, what and where, your perception of self, is plonked down smack dab in the middle of your body.
It also means your awareness of your body is plonked smack dab in the middle of the world around you.
Imagine your body as a big ol’ compass.
It’s that round thing you learned to use back in Scouts, before we had GPS? Yeah, the funky round thing one with the needle that points towards the big N-stands-for-North.
Don’t worry about the N-stands-for-North just now. What direction you’re facing isn’t important for our purpose.
What is important? This:
Your self-awareness is like the pivot point of the compass needle; it’s the central axis around which your perceptions of the world turn, just like that compass needle turns in the compass. Your self-awareness is how your brain orients you in the world.
Why is it important?
Because strangely enough, our brains can get a wee bit confused about where we actually are, relative to our environment and even our own bodies. There are scientific studies that touch on this – not woo-woo pretend science, ACTUAL science – but I’ll save that for another day.
Right now, what I want to focus on is that our perceptions, our personal maps of the world? They’re created and assembled created within our own minds.
Now, I don’t mean this in a woo-woo, create-your-own-reality way; that’s a whole different argument, one I don’t want to get into here.
But our brain does take the information provided by our senses, and it weaves that information together to build a sort of virtual 3-D map of the world in our heads.
That map? Yeah. We create it. And we use it as a guide for our interactions with the world, a sort of virtual environment that keeps us informed not only about the what we’re experiencing, but about where we are in those experiences.
That internal map tells us where the couch we’re about to sit on is in relationship to our butt. That map tells us where to slap at the mosquito that just bit our arm, even if we didn’t see the little monster. The map tells us where our hand is, when we’re about to reach for a glass of water, it tells us where the glass of water is, as well as the table top the glass rests on, so we don’t bang our hand on the corner of it.
But here’s the cool, kind of wild thing:
The brain can adjust the map to account for errors and illusions.
When the info from one of our perception doesn’t quite match up with the others, our mind combines input from our sense, and adjusts that internal map. That’s why we can use mirrors to put on makeup, or use video cameras to help us guide our SUV out of a parking space safely. This shifting is usually pretty accurate, and the brain normally adapts its map of the world to allow for these different inputs pretty quickly.
But sometimes? Our brain’s perceptual map gets a bit wonky.
It can become fooled about where we are, and make faulty adjustments to its internal map until it becomes so skewed so that you think you’re sitting 1.5 inches to the left of where you are, or maybe that you’re standing 3 feet behind yourself.
You can also get confused when it comes to where you are in time, with your perceptions racing ahead or lagging behind the here and now.
You’ve probably felt this waking up from a particularly vivid dream, or maybe after getting off of a spinning amusement park ride, a 3D movie or one of those crooked house theme park attractions. Your senses get confused, your brain interprets information inaccurately, and the world goes noticeably wobbly for a few minutes.
That wobbly confusion can come from physical issues, like nerve damage, or brain injury, or conflicting perceptions like visual illusions. The wobbly confusion can also come from internal issues, dreams, deep visualizations/meditation, hallucinations, even daydreams.
And that’s where a lot of us creative types get into trouble.
You see, for creative entrepreneurs like us?
We have a special tendency towards being off-center. I think it’s because we’re always imagining new directions, trying to get into the heads of customers and clients and characters. We project ourselves into possibilities, to imagine what might happen if we make this choice or that one, and we’re usually pretty darn good at it.
We can be a wee bit obsessive, fretting over the future, blaming ourselves for the past.
All of that projection? It’s part of our process. And even when we’re not being quirky and projecting ourselves into a thousand different possibilities?
Running even the tiniest creative business means wearing a lot of hats, filling a lot of roles, jumping between tasks, spending a lot of time locked inside of our own heads. It means sitting at computers, doing jobs and tasks that don’t come naturally to us, things that we find uncomfortable, things that make our minds wander.
Our attention drifts, or we pretend we’re somewhere else, or maybe we pretend to be some one else (like, say, a circus ringmaster. *cough* ) in hopes of making the drudgery more bearable.
All of that projection and processing is useful and good, as long as we remember to come back to ourselves.
But when we lose track of where we actually *are* in the world, forget to bring our awareness fully back to the here and now?
We can wind up tripping over our own thoughts, and stumbling (sometimes physically) because we’re off-balance, off-center.
We get our perceptions bogged down in all of those imaginary worlds and projected perceptions, and we lose track of center, we lose track of the Here & Now.
And the Here & Now?
Here and now is an important place to be, if you want your projects and your business to succeed. It’s even more important if you’d like to stay sane while succeeding.
The Here & Now is where things happen, the Center is where things get done. It’s where you’ll meet your best ideas, where you’ll find your resolve, and the place where you’re at your sparkly, most you-ified best.
To go just a little woo-woo on you, when you find your perceptions in that place of here and now, stuff happens.
In fact, it’s where Everything happens, because the center is where Everywhere meets itself. It’s the spot where all the directions come together, and the point of force from which all action spreads out from, and it’s right smack dab in the middle of you.
Ok, I’m starting to freak myself out with the woo, and I want to keep this practical.
Ahem. Back to business.
So, how do you re-center?
Re-orienting yourself back to yourself isn’t complicated.
Most of the time, for most people, it happens naturally. You likely do it nearly every morning, when you wake up from a night’s sleep, slightly disoriented from a dream, slowly coming back to terms with the physical world.
Things as simple as eating can refocus the senses on the here and now. Physical exercise often re-orient the body, as do ordinary, physically engaging acts such as cleaning the kitchen.
Sometimes, it’s a bit harder for creative types to re-find that “center” of their perceptions, and even Average Joes can find themselves lost in their own heads from time to time.
That’s when having a concrete ritual comes in handy. And yes, since you ask, I do have one. And yes, I’ll be sharing it with you really soon. And yes, there are even advanced centering techniques to help with for creative and business purposes.
I’ll be putting it all together soon into some kind of kit, but the ritual will be up on the blog within the next week.
Until then? Just let the core concept sink in.
Being “centered” means having your attention, your sense of self and your perceptions focused in the here and now, in your body, with your body centered in the world around you.
And being centered? Yeah. It’s one giant step towards being serene, and successful.
Of Comments, Compasses & Cotton Candy:
Just play nice (you always do) and speak your mind freely. Maybe share an experience where you felt off-center, or your own little habits that help keep you in your body, and in the world.
Or you can just tell me how your week went, too. I’m good with that!
Oh, and psst… there’s an easter egg poem hidden in this post. Whoever finds it first gets a free something.
- Finding Center: An Introduction
- Feeling Off Kilter? Re-Discover Your Center of Balance