Tag Archives: centering

zone of peace

graffiti: lotus blossom silhouetteHappy Friday! Good morning good morning — how were your sleeps?

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This morning, Sophie and I met a man during our walk. She was calm when he first saw her, and then she got more excited as we approached him — she was full of puppy energy, jumping up a little and mouthing his hand.

He asked, They don’t use choke chains on dogs anymore, huh?

What? I thought. Who are you to want to choke-chain my dog?

I said, Oh, they still have them. She wasn’t trained well-enough for him. Then later he said, Your mom, your step-mom, she’s going to teach you how to sit, stay, and come, isn’t she? She’s going to enroll you in obedience school. All while he’s petting her, and even though he’s seen her sit calmly. I both wanted Sophie to be ‘better behaved’ (so that I could look better in this guy’s eyes? Why?) and wanted to tell him to shut the hell up, and felt judged all over the place. We walked away, Sophie practicing her heeling, me practicing my deep breathing. Yes, people have their judgments — yes, I can’t stop them. All we can do is keep practicing.

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Speaking of centering, I read this out loud last night (isn’t it good to read the pup a story at bedtime?) in The Wise Heart: A Guide to the Universal Teachings of Buddhist Psychology by Jack Kornfield (thanks to my mom for sharing this book with me):

EvenĀ  during the most turbulent years, when he was dismantling the British Empire’s control of India, Gandhi spent one day a week in silence. He meditated so that he could act from the principles of interdependence, not bringing harm to himself nor another. No matter how pressing and urgent the political situation, the day he spent in silence allowed him to quiet his mind and listen to the purest intentions of his heart. (p. 357)

How often does it seem like there’s no time to slow down? Everything is too important, there’s too much to do, I can’t stop. Definitely no time for meditating, yoga, relaxation. (Notice, though, how there’s always time for anxiety and worry.)

I don’t like to set up these kinds of self-judging situations, where I say to myself, “God, Jen, if Ghandhi could do it while he was transforming a country, what excuse do you have, with your little life, for not meditating?” Let’s not go there — more blame, shame and guilt isn’t what I’m going for.

Still, it’s a powerful story, and one to think about. Being centered was a part of his comittment, a part of his practice and process, integrated into how he did his work. What about that as a model — centering, meditation, self-care practice as integral, not outside of or adjunct to, our work?

Take a deep breath and just feel the possibility. I work not to get stressed about ‘finding the time,’ but rather notice what time is already available, could be redirected from anxious spinning, say, or maybe Facebook.

The next section in Wise Heart reads:

If you want to live a life of balance, start now. Turn off the news, meditate, turn on Mozart, walk through the trees or the mountains, and begin to make yourself a zone of peace. When I return from a long retreat or from traveling for months, I’m amazed that the news is pretty much the same as when I left. We already know the plot, we know the problems. Let go of the latest current story. Listen more deeply. (p 357)

A zone of peace. I love that phrase.

What would it look like (maybe let this be your write today) to ‘make yourself a zone of peace’, whether for you or one of the characters you’re working with in your writing? Take 10 minutes this morning, or maybe over your lunch break, open your notebook, and write down that phrase, then dive into what it could feel like, what it could mean.

Thank you for the ways you hold space for others, for the ways you are a safe place for the varying parts within you as well, even the anxious and overwhelmed ones. Thank you for your practice, and for your words.

coming back to center

photo of a crow standing at the edge of a blue/green/white sidewalk-spiralLast night I had a dream that Sophie met another dog, our neighbor dog, and they were fine together — friends. She got some new toys last night, and this morning she’s a little crazy with wanting them. Who can’t understand that?

Happy Thursday morning to you out there. Thanks for being here.

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Yesterday, she talked to me about centeredness — about centering — and about practice. She told/reminded me that centeredness isn’t an always thing. We redirect ourselves, we practice and remind ourselves. We bring ourselves back to center. And with practice, we can do it more easily. From center, we can engage with the world more intentionally, instead of simply reacting — this is what she told me. I need more practice.

This was the exercise we did:

– Stand up, with your feet shoulder-width apart: notice how you’re feeling all throughout your body, where there are aches and where there is comfort, where there is tension or trigger, where there is relaxation, where there is more or less numbness. Just notice. You don’t have to change any of it.

– Notice your length, how your height fills your vertical space. Think about lengthening your spine, think about a line that tethers/roots you into the earth and that stretches you up into the sky. This length, this is your dignity —

– Notice, then, your width, the breadth of you from side to side. Notice how your shoulders, your ribcage and your hips can expand and open, even if they’re more closed right now. Bring some attention to those places. Notice the space between your ears, from one side to the other of you. This dimension of you, this breadth, represents your connectedness to others, how you reach out in relationship —

– Then, from here, notice your depth from front to back. If you want to, you can place one of your hands on your belly, just a couple inches below your belly button, over your center of gravity, and another hand on your back at about the same spot. Just hold your hands and/or your attention/awareness at the place between your hands. Your depth is powerful. Let yourself feel your back, the back of your shoulders, your butt, the backs of your thighs and legs. Your back is connected to history (she says to me), to your ancestors who hold you up here (just imagine this). Consider your organs, notice their presence and work. Then consider the front of you — this place represents your forward motion, your intentions, your desire and what you value and want. While holding your center, physically or in mind, articulate what you want, your commitments, for your relationship with your body, your work in the world or in relationships, or something else. You can say this just for you. Then, as you begin to move, move from your center, from those commitments.

This is a practice. Let’s keep working on it, ok? It’s scary for me, too — I don’t always feel the parts of my body. I like just being able to be aware of that. With practice, that fear transmutes.

Writing helps me center, too, often. How about for you?

Thank you for your words, yesterday, tomorrow, and today.