We hear that expression a lot in yoga, meditation and spirituality. But what exactly does it mean? What is your center and how do you find it?
What is your “center”?
We’re not talking about your nearest holistic yoga center. We’re not talking about the center of our galaxy or the universe.
We’re talking about the center of you.
A central point that is always full of peace, or devoid of anything physical. It is the center of your spirit, your core, the place where the “real you” resides.
If you find that place, it’s like bathing in bliss.
If I were to describe it in a visual term, it’s like the center of an elastic band being stretched, or the center of a balloon as it is being inflated.
There is a point in the center of an elastic band that no matter how much force you put into stretching the band, it never moves and never experiences any stretching.
A balloon would be similar. The surface skin of the balloon stretches equally in all directions as you inflate it, but the very center of that balloon doesn’t move or experience any expansion.
Of course you can poke holes in those analogies. “What if I throw the elastic band?”, yes of course, that center will experience movement. Or if I throw the balloon too. Same thing.
But if you ARE the elastic band or the balloon existing in isolation, those center points never experience any movement, even if they are thrown, because movement is relative to another body or object.
Right now your body is flying through space at over 1000 miles per hour on the surface of the Earth. But you don’t feel that movement because everything else around you is moving at the same speed. Our galaxy might be moving at millions of miles per hour but you would just never know.
Anyway, I don’t want this to turn into a High School physics lecture. Lets keep it spiritual.
Our bodies have a lot of moving parts. Arms, legs, a pumping heart. And of course, our old friend, “breathing” causes a lot of movement in the body. But even with all this activity going on, there is a small part of your body that doesn’t move.
How do you find your center?
Your center is somewhere inside your abdomen. I don’t know if it’s in exactly the same place in each person. I suspect not because anatomically we are all unique. But generally you will find a place somewhere close to the navel that doesn’t seem to move.
The navel is the belly button. So from the outside it’s pretty easy to find and is a good starting point to finding your center. Most people can locate and identify their belly button. If not, have fun getting someone to help 🙂
Some people call this type of meditation, “navel gazing“, for obvious reasons.
You don’t need any special tools to find the center, but sitting in your favorite meditation position will give you the best starting point.
As you would for meditation, gently close your eyes and start by doing deliberately deep belly breaths while holding the rest of your body as still as possible.
Put your attention on your navel and feel it rise and fall as you breathe. Now slowly move that focus inwards so that you’re focused about an inch behind where the navel is. Really focus hard.
If this point still moves, readjust your focus another inch inside going deeper towards your spine.
Keep doing this and taking a few breaths in each location. Eventually you will find a place where there seems to be no movement no matter how deeply you breathe.
You can really fine tune that focus and move tiny amounts in all directions until you find a spot that is so still, so peaceful, so comforting and liberating.
Now give it your fullest attention. Melt right into that pool of calmness. Allow your breathing to slow down and become non existent.
That stillness will grow until you are no longer aware of anything other than that center.
You may find bliss, laughter, joy just rises and bubbles up to the surface.
That’s right about the time your kids burst in screaming and drag you back to reality with a thump.
But if you caught a little glimpse of your center, you will be hooked.
The next time you’re in your yoga class and the teacher says, “find your center”, you’ll know exactly where to look and you may just find that you can balance in that new pose so much easier. You lose the body, you lose the pain.
If you’re looking for enlightenment. Keep running back to your center often.
And at least tell all your friends that you’re a navel gazer. They’ll think you stare at oranges all weekend long.