This post is about the dance of losing my center, and coming back, losing it, and coming back again. I don’t believe it’s possible to stay in our center, not now and maybe not ever. Just one glimpse of social media and the frenzy around our political situation right now throws me right into fear and anxiety. One tense parenting moment (and with an adolescent there are plenty) or one financial discussion with my husband and there I go again. (Makes sense why Pause was my word of 2016, right?!)
My practice is now to recognize this uncentered and off-kilter state, to hold myself in compassion for being there, and then to do what I need to do to reconnect with my center – that wise place inside of me. Simple, but not easy!
Why do this? What’s so important about being centered? For me, being centered means that the chatter of my mind is quieted down and I can hear the wisdom of my inner knowing. This centered place helps me respond, instead of reacting, to what life throws my way. In this place, fear is not in charge, and anxiety takes a back seat. From here I can parent from a place of love and listening, and move forward in my life in a calm and grounded way.
How do we notice we are off of center, that we are caught up in the craziness of the outside world? There might be physical symptoms – breathing is shallow, tension builds up in the neck and shoulders – or I may not feel connected with my body at all. My thoughts might be racing, the mantra of “do it, fix it, control it” rushing through my brain. Anxiety is high, and I feel as if time has sped up. I feel like my daughter’s hamster running around his wheel. My practices help me notice when all of this is going on, which is the first step to slowing down. Having regular places to stop and go inside myself during the week help me monitor when I’m caught up in frenzy and worry. And through those practices I am able to stop the hamster wheel and begin to come back to my breath, my body, and being present here and now.
Here are some of my practices:
- Pull a card and journal.
You knew I would start here, didn’t you? Taking a few minutes to light a candle, sometimes burn sage or palo santo, breathe deeply and pull a card is a very grounding practice for me. It helps me to slow down, feel my feet on the ground, and then listen in for divine guidance. Spending a few minutes writing in my journal allows me to receive the messages I need to hear.
2. Play with art supplies!
This one is so fun and connects me to my imagination and creativity. The emphasis here is on PLAY. Play and fun are essential to plug into that wellspring of joy that always resides within us. When I am off center it can be tough to dive into play and creativity. In those moments I purposely take a piece of old cardboard, scrap paper or junk mail and use that as my surface for creating. What supplies will I use? Anything I have at hand, I love to cut up an old magazine and slap pieces down with a glue stick. Or I’ll take some stencils and go to town with different colors of paint. Really anything goes, and it really helps me slow down my thoughts and connect with myself. This really works best if I have no agenda for what I’m working on and no plan for it afterwards.
3. Meditation. Now I know that this is a tricky one for a lot of people. Many have told me that it just doesn’t work for them. Yeah, I get it, we’re supposed to be all relaxed and our minds are supposed to be quiet and most of the time they aren’t. Meditation really clicked for me after reading Jack Kornfield’s books “A Path With Heart” and “After the Ecstasy the Laundry.” I got it that the practice of meditation is noticing how busy our minds are and then coming back to the breath, noticing thoughts and coming back to the breath again. Sometimes it’s easy, and sometimes excruciatingly challenging. I’ve found though that it’s always worth it and it brings me back to my center and my heart. For those who want to try it and are not sure where to begin, I recommend the app Insight Timer. Not only does it have a handy timer, there are also hundreds of guided meditations available which are helpful for busy minds.
4. Be in nature! This is a big one for me. Every time I can spend some time with redwoods, or gaze out at the ocean I feel the hamster wheel of my mind begin to slow down. Mother Earth is our greatest healer, and I do feel her healing essence when I give myself the time and space to tap into it.
5. Connecting with others in a class or circle. Sometimes we need help,
sometimes we are so knocked off course that meditating or painting or pulling a card is not enough. I paint regularly at Chris Zydel’s studio. This practice helps me go deeper into myself for connecting and healing, and I am able to do this because of the container of safety that Chris creates. I also dance with a circle of women lead by Heather Munro Pierce. The work I do with Chris and Heather, and with other coaches and therapists and healers throughout my life, is not work I do alone. The power of the circle of women and of the wise guide who holds the space with love and safety is deep medicine. This is also what I do for my clients, hold the space with love and compassion so that they can connect with their inner guidance.
Now more than ever our practices for connecting with our own inner wisdom are essential. For those interested in jumpstarting their own practices to support themselves in moving through these challenging times, there is a wonderful month-long class by Kiala Givehand coming up called Pull Pen Paint. I will be a guest teacher and will hold a sacred circle for one of the live sessions. The circle will be a beautiful dive into the divine feminine with tarot and oracle cards. I think the best thing about this class is that you will leave with a practice to help connect you with your center: pulling a card, journaling, and creating art. It’s also going to be so much fun!
I would love to hear from you, what are some of your practices? What helps you get back to your center? I will be giving away a free spot to Pull Pen Paint later in February to my newsletter subscribers so make sure you are signed up if you are interested. Click here to sign up!