Deadlines, to-do lists, projects, and responsibilities: they all help make our lives feel a little too hectic, unmanageable, and even out of control. One of the greatest skills you can acquire is learning how to access your internal compass and find your center in times of stress.
We all encounter stressful people, situations, and periods in our lives. What makes each of us different from one another are the choices that we make in any given moment.
When you temporarily lose your balance, you can reset your internal alignment. This will help you refocus the lens through which you perceive your experiences. Here’s how.
3 Pillars for Centering
The three pillars for centering are awareness, attention, and intention. When you notice that your life is becoming chaotic and you feel as if you're losing ground, you can quickly and easily find your center again with just a few simple steps.
The first step is to become aware that you're off balance. Awareness is one of greatest tools for creating change. Once you become aware that you've lost your center, you have the opportunity to make a conscious choice to shift your internal state.
A conscious choice-maker is someone who makes choices that are designed to unfold higher levels of potential (versus perpetuating more melodrama). First, you must be aware of the need to redirect your energy or focus.
To begin cultivating internal awareness, start each new day or each new project by closing your eyes, taking a few deep breaths, and imagining that everything you approach is from a place of centered balance. See, hear, and feel yourself moving effortlessly through every experience with clarity, focus, and awareness. Let this vision or sensation become an anchor for how you want to consciously move through your days. Notice how you begin to feel more at peace as you do this, then open your eyes and go about your day.
Attention in Action
Where you place your attention is critical. The second step is to notice where your attention is being directed in the moment. Attention means you are mindful of what’s swirling around you.
When you come into present-moment awareness, your attention is based in the here and now. This is when you can begin to observe yourself and your environment.
Place your attention first on your breathing. Your breath is your greatest tool for getting out of your head—and the chaos of the moment—and into your heart. Taking purposeful breaths can help slow things down long enough for you to check in and gauge where you're at.
Next, begin to observe your thoughts and feelings. Can you shift the way you're feeling simply by putting your attention wherever you feel sensation? Are you able to look through a different lens and see options that you weren't previously aware of? All change is created in the present moment; it is from this place that you will be able to cultivate the fertile soil needed for the final step.
The third step is to set your intention for how you would like to be able to respond to life's challenges. An intention is future-based and it’s planted like a seed by putting your attention on it in the present moment.
Your intention might be to stop or slow down long enough to make a clear decision. It may be to stay rooted in a place of acceptance. Maybe you have realized that you need to eliminate some activities and other commitments, or that you want to find time in your schedule for relaxation and reflection.
Get clear on your intended outcome by asking yourself what you would like to experience. What choices would you like to make in the moment, and what possibilities are available to you?
If you're a visual person, see yourself being calm, cool, and collected and simply observing your situation or circumstance before pressing on.
If you're more of a kinesthetic person, imagine that you’re hovering just above the situation and feel serene and unaffected by your environment. Stop and reflex how you would like to feel in this situation. This will help you compose yourself into a more harmonious state. From this place of clarity, peace, and balance, you can proceed with success.
Whenever you notice that your inner calm has become compromised, take a few minutes to close your eyes and bring your awareness to how you're feeling in that moment. Then—with your attention in the here and now—choose to return to your earlier intention and come back to that place of feeling relaxed, present, and focused. With practice, this exercise will become second nature, allowing you to easily and effortlessly return to your center in no time at all.