You usually hear the term self-centered meant as a criticism. But, thanks to the hub-and-spokes image, whenever I hear it, I think, “Yes. I am in the center of myself. My self is my center.”
When you are centered in yourself, you are the still center around which the wheel of your life spins. The circumstances of your life are the outer rim of the wheel. You want to stay in the middle, but it’s all too easy to let yourself get pulled out on the edge of the wheel so that as events happen, you end up spinning along with them. You get tumbled.
Learning how to stay in the center of yourself means developing some discipline so that you aren’t pulled off-center by other people’s opinions, bad news, or success. When you really get practiced at staying right in the center of you, things may spin around you, but you do not spin, you stay grounded and true to yourself. You don’t have to let your circumstances determine your happiness anymore. You can stay in the center of yourself and be able to feel the joy of your life no matter what is happening on the outside.
SEE ALSO: 20 Fast Facts About Hinduism
Where To Begin
So let’s put you in the center of your life. I recommend that you access the free audio version of this short meditation at www.StartRightWhereYouAre.com because I think you’ll find it easier to visualize the concepts if you listen to me say it rather than reading it silently. You could also make a recording of yourself reading it and play it back with your eyes closed.
And if you’re the kind of person who avoids meditation, no worries — I invite you to try only the simple, effective breathing pattern. I have been doing this breathing pattern for over 20 years, and it has helped me through panic attacks, boring sermons, bumpy airplane rides, Los Angeles traffic, audition jitters, and insomnia. It’s a miracle worker.
Effective Breathing Pattern
Inhale for a count of four, hold for a count of seven, exhale for a count of eight. That’s it. 4:7:8.
You can just do it once and get a nice effect, although I usually like to do it three times. You can also keep going and repeat the cycle as many times as you like. Once, at a party, I stayed up until 5 am, sitting on the couch, counting out this breathing pattern with a friend who was having a bad experience on some psychotropic drugs. She said later that the breathing kept her from “completely freaking the freak out.” So, while I’m not making any medical claims here, it’s good for de-freaking.
I like this breathing cycle because it is so simple, and because the counting pattern is just unusual enough to distract me from my thinking. It returns me to my center.
Words For Meditation
Here’s the text of the meditation to read, read aloud, or download as audio:
If you’re somewhere where you can close your eyes, go ahead and close your eyes. If you can’t or don’t want to close your eyes, just soften your gaze a little bit. Let things go just a little blurry. Soften your gaze, soften your heart. And now feel the very center of you. Feel the energy in the center of yourself like it’s the core of something, like the heart of a tree — the heartwood. Focus on that energy in the center of you. And let that center beam be really clear and strong.
And let everything else relax around it. So your hands can relax. Your feet can relax. Your belly can relax. The back of your neck, your jaw, your tongue, your heart, your joints, your mind, your judgment. Feel that beaming energy drop down into the earth so you are connected to the living planet. And feel it extend upward out the top of your head so you are connected to the sky above.
Now imagine that the beam is illuminated. Imagine that it glows. See if you can turn an imaginary rheostat to make it glow more brightly. Experiment with the color, intensity, and size of your illuminated center beam.
And just staying in the center of yourself, we’re going to inhale, two, three, four; hold, two, three, four, five, six, seven; exhale, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight. Inhale, two, three, four; hold, two, three, four, five, six, seven; exhale, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight. Inhale, two, three, four; hold, two, three, four, five, six, seven; exhale, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight.
Thank you. Thank you for doing that with me.
There are several versions of this meditation, designed to support you as you move through the material in this book. Feel free to use them however you want — there’s no need to be all precious about it and feel like you have to light candles or do it perfectly or anything.
Just play around with the ideas, do the work that interests you, and leave the rest for some other time. Do what feels easy. Little changes, remember?
Little Changes Action Step: Right now, do the 4:7:8 breathing three times. Repeat at will.