Put yourself in the center of all things
There’s no denying the chaos of life. All around us choices, opportunity, upheaval, discord, a booming social calendar, the kids crazy schedules, the realization that status quo is no longer enough and we are ready for change, feeling good one moment then we get smacked with an unexpected life event. Chaos is everywhere. Sometimes completely unexpected and life altering. Other times it’s chosen, it’s the fullness of the life we crave. Either way, amidst this uncertainty of everyday I’ve found that if I’m not grounded, tapped into my intuition or open and receptive to the fluid movement of change then I too become scattered and get caught in a windstorm of confusion and anxiety.
I personally have been feeling this unpredictable energy for the past two months (read groundlessness part 1 & 2) as have students and friends who’ve shared similar stories. I was having sleepless nights where I’d felt I made a wrong decision, I was distracted and feeling scattered, searching outside of myself for answers. My meditation practice was my anchor and one particularly unruly day I sat and imagined myself in the center of all the things going on around me. I sat still in the center as my body, mind, emotions, events, friends, family, situations, formed a circle around me. What I found was what I had been looking for all along. In that moment I became clear and focused. I was calm as I observed the whirlwind of life. I was no longer attached or reactive, I simply was able to observe. I sat with what felt like unshakable strength for 20 minutes, my foot had fallen asleep and I hadn’t even realized. When I emerged I was no longer frazzled, arguing with someone that wasn’t there, justifying my rightness to no one but in my head. None of the circumstances had changed but all of my resistance was gone. In a matter of minutes problems shifted and solutions became known. It was if I had I had prepared the atmosphere for all that was possible.
You can do it right now.
Close your eyes for a few moments and imagine yourself sitting in the center of a circle. Get grounded in the center, feel the floor under you, the breath breathing you. Around the circumference of the circle begin to place all things in your life. Begin with something as close to you as your physical condition, you remain sitting but separate your body. Next, your mental condition, allow your thoughts to move to the edge of the circle. Then your emotions, send all your emotions to the outer circle. You remain in the center. Now, all the situations happening in your life. All of your duties and responsibilities. You relationships. And all of your future plans. Remain in the center of it all, calm, watching, observing without reaction or response. Just watch. Observe it all. Notice when you want to intervene, when something tries to pull you away. Sense without thought how you feel as an unmovable force as all things swirl around you. Take a minute or two to experience this, when you have time, sit longer. You can’t do this wrong, simply see all that arises.
The beauty of this experiment is that whatever you see or feel is the teacher, is what you need to experience to move forward from a place of objective awareness rather than from a place of stressful reaction.
- Maybe you able to put yourself in a still place where you see all that is around you swirling, chaotic, always in flux but you are steady, unmoved, you are one unchanging, unwavering constant in your life.
Esther Hicks calls this “the receptive mode”. When you become the unwavering center of your life you become open to possibility, to inspiration, to solutions and answers rather than stuck pushing against the problem.
This is the experience we receive when we spend time in nature or lie in savasana at the end of a yoga practice. It’s really any time we become so immersed in what we are doing that we lose track of time and participate fully in the moment. We become receptive to information, answers, solutions. We become open to the flow of life. We become open to our truest source of inner knowing.
- No, you did not do it wrong! Observing like this can be so unfamiliar that it’s uncomfortable, it can even seem scary or way too intense. Know that it’s OK and totally normal. It’s actually a powerful tool to be aware of what we resist. If you can, try it again. But this time give gratitude because here lies an opportunity to forgive an old way of being, to soften, to be kinder to yourself, to see what may be holding you back from true happiness.
It’s important to remember that our human condition will quickly pull us out of the receptive mode. Our mind wanders, we get bored, distracted, we chase a thought, we let fear creep in. Again, this is completely natural and normal. Over time sitting in the space will provide a sense of ease, contentment, we might eventually even crave sitting to give our mind the much needed rest it deserves. But at the beginning, because we are very much conditioned to respond, to be ahead of the moment, thinking, processing, striving, pushing, arguing, justifying our position, doing more, being more. Our mind will quickly jump in and scream “I can’t do it” or “I don’t know how to meditate” or “it doesn’t work for me”.
It’s at this moment that I hear the calming voice of Rolf Gates “we remember and begin again”. We have an incredible ability to pull ourselves back into alignment, to self soothe, to soften, to sit in the middle where all things are possible and watch. It’s easy to beat myself up for the forgetting, “I should be better at this by now”. But I also have watched the remembering so many times that I’ve realized it’s in those times when I forget, remember and begin again, that I will move back into the receptive mode with more focus, with more direction, where I actually find myself more powerful than I was before.
Put yourself in the receptive mode and when you find those old habits of reaction, your conditioned patterns creeping in, pause. Over time you might even find yourself able to laugh and say “oh, there’s that old familiar thing”. Then the shame and guilt and fear dissipates. These times when we check out and can step back and see the habit are actually incredibly valuable lessons.
- Eventually we will find in this space exists the possibility of all things. In the middle you are no longer caught up in even your thoughts or emotions. You become objective, clear, strong, confident, all knowing.
Our time on the mat is really merely practice for everyday life. Get into the receptive mode then tiptoe into situations that challenge it. This is the practice. See how long you can hold alignment. Recognize when it’s gone. There is no right or wrong, it’s all part of the fullness of life. But it’s important that we carve out opportunities to practice. Otherwise we end up reacting to conditions, blaming others, playing victim and letting the chaos of life drag us around. Our practice becomes our pause, a return to center in order to tap into the true inner power that we possess. Take one last moment, hold your hands to your heart and give radical gratitude for all that was around your circle.
You can dance in a hurricane
But only if you're standing in the eye ~ Brandi Carlile