Knowing When I'm Not:
4 Suggestions for Developing a Strong
The more I practice centering, the more I realize that as
important as it is to be able to identify and access the centered
state, it is equally important to be able to know when I'm
NOT centered. Otherwise, how do I choose?
When I'm centered I'm in control of my behavior. Centered
action is on purpose and by choice. Uncentered action is reactive
and out of control, and I end up looking back with regret.
I've spent a lot of time figuring out my personal symptoms
of uncenteredness. Physically, my legs tense and knees lock;
my jaw locks, my throat closes, and I stop breathing.
Mental and emotional symptoms vary, but I can become self-righteous,
depressed, and very self-critical. Without warning, these
reactive responses combine into a mind/body state that is
powerful enough to overcome all my good intentions and noble
When something happens that triggers these physical and emotional
states, I increasingly notice them at earlier stages. I can
then ask myself if I want to go where they will carry me.
Sometimes it's a difficult choice. These reactions are "practiced"
and seductive. To choose to be centered means to integrate
that energy in some new and more useful way in which I'm not
This kind of awareness is learned and developed. And, speaking
from experience, it can be done. Here's my path, and I urge
you to add to it:
- INTENTION. Have a clear intention to develop control
over your reactive state.
- DISCOVERY. Begin to notice your symptoms. The
next time you start to "lose it," become active in that
process and make a different choice.
- JUST DO IT. (Thank you, Nike.) Breathe, relax,
or play a mental tape that helps you get centered. Visualize
your "happy place," as one of my clients puts it.
- DISCIPLINE. Don't settle for letting yourself
be hijacked by your reactions. When you do "lose it" - use
it. Go back in your mind's eye, and ask how the situation
might have played out had you been centered. It's a great
way to reinforce what you want to do next time.
You have more power than you think. Know what you want for
your life and go get it.
© 2005 Judy Ringer, Power & Presence Training
Judy Ringer is the author of Unlikely Teachers:
Finding the Hidden Gifts in Daily Conflict, containing
stories and practices on turning life's challenges into life
teachers. Judy is a black belt in aikido and nationally known
presenter, specializing in unique workshops on conflict, communication,
and creating a more positive work environment. She is the
founder of Power & Presence Training, and chief instructor
of Portsmouth Aikido, Portsmouth, NH, USA. To sign up for
more free tips and articles like these, visit www.JudyRinger.com.
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