Last week I felt frazzled. I had just announced our new UNITY project and it started to feel very real. My long whiteboard list taunted me with its colorful array of to-do's. I started to doubt my ability to get it all done and even more deeply, I began to doubt UNITY's viability as a project.
"You need to find your center," I heard one CEO say to another during a meeting. She wasn't talking to me, but the words struck me. Suddenly, the swirls of questions and doubt slowly came to rest. It was as if the flying swing ride at the carnival had ended. And there was peace.
Where is this Elusive Place Called Center?
In my coach training, we went through a meditation to help us find Center. I've been through this meditation so many times that a simple reminder of Center takes me back to that special place. The meditation suggests that Center doesn't just exist in one dimension; rather, Center is the core of time, space and awareness.
The meditation explores three planes of center, which I'll share with you today. And while these planes will likely help you broaden your understanding of your Center, I'm not sure they're the whole story.
Three Planes of Center
The top-bottom plane: Here we find our vertical center. First, consider our groundedness to the earth. This is the animal connection we have with nature. The force of gravity pulls us down and binds us to the physical world. When standing, we feel this pull through the feet. Contrast that to the pull of the spirit, raising us upward toward the heavens. This lift originates from the crown of the head, and is the call of our purpose.
When we ground too much, we lose the call of the spirit and life becomes heavy and dull. Conversely when we fly too high we can lose sight of responsibilities and the realities of life. Where is your vertical center that stretches between the feet and the head; the earth and the spirit?
The forward-backward plane: Here we find the center between physically leaning forward and backward. The backward pull is the legacy of our family's heritage, our traditions and the wisdom that passes through generations. It's the foundation. It's how we were built. Balance that with the forward pull of personal ambition and the unique life you want to create.
When we push too far forward, we close to the wisdom gifted by those who came before us. When we lean too far backward, we lose our individuality and the drive to author something uniquely ours.
The inward-outward plane: This is the width between our internal core and our external reach in the world. You can find this plane in the physical realm by the distance between your arms and your body. Inside of you, there is a core to which you need to be true. At this core are your values and your personal identity. On the outward side of this plane is how you interact with and experience the world. It is the degree to which the world influences you.
To be overly inward closes us off to the possibility of the magic we can generate in the world. It keeps our gifts inside. When we are too outwardly focused, we get consumed by trends and others' opinions. We can lose our true selves.
This centering exercise is a powerful meditation that you can do in a standing position. It will help you physically feel a center in your body that is rooted in your humanness, your spirituality, your heritage, your personal drive, your internal value and your external presence. Once you find that place, you'll likely feel solid, like you can stand in the world with strength and equilibrium.
But Wait, There's More
But, perhaps, there's more. And it's something I just felt as I was writing this piece. Perhaps there's something more simple than a physical center and the dimensions discussed above. Perhaps your true center is what I might call your Knowing.
For me, I feel my Knowing about two inches below my sternum. I was surprised to find it not in my head, but between my gut and my heart. When I remember to go there, I find peace.
Now that I've reconnected with that deepest part of me, I remember that that's where the UNITY project came from in the first place. From that place of Knowing, I've reclaimed the certainty and confidence that UNITY is a necessary project and that I have the responsibility to share it with the world.
And so when you feel the carnival swings spinning faster and the noise getting louder, try settling into that place at your core, that place where there's no effort, no thought, no feeling; that place where you just know.
What do you do to feel centered and reconnected?
Content from this post was inspired by Richard Strozzi-Heckler's Holding the Center: Sanctuary in a Time of Confusion.