Going about our daily lives, with busy schedules and deadlines to meet, it’s easy to lose sight of what’s truly important to us. This is especially problematic when you are working to create a world that reflects your values: justice, sustainability, equality, and personal fulfillment.
What can you do to be sure that your actions are always in line with your values no matter what life throws at you?
Centering: Get In Touch with Your Values
Centering is a technique we have learned at Pachamama Alliance from our work with Generative Somatics, a group that teaches an embodied approach to social justice.
Staci Haines of Generative Somatics says, “Our bodies hold the sum total of our histories and our conditioning. An embodied approach helps build the bridge between knowing something and being able to take action on it.”
The purpose of a centering practice is to be able to take action from what we care most about and be able to return to that very quickly when we get thrown off. Centering gives you a present, grounded place of purpose to return to when you become stressed, triggered or upset, or when you want to be more connected and open.
Centering brings you in touch with your body, and all the knowledge about who you are and what you believe in that is contained within your body, which will help keep your actions aligned with your values.
How to Center Yourself
To begin, bring your attention from your thinking self and into your feeling self. Get inside your own body, in your own skin. Pay attention to pressure, temperature, movement, etc.
Bring your attention down to about two inches below your belly button. You can put your hands there if its comfortable for you. This is our center of gravity.
Center yourself in four directions:
- Length: Think about your body as a vertical line. Lengthen up toward the sky and down toward the ground. Feel your full length. This is representative of dignity – our own dignity and recognizing the dignity of others. It also grounds you in your spiritual and moral vision, and pragmatic grounded action.
- Width: Fill out as wide as you can side-to-side. Feel the width of your shoulders, hips. We often feel pressure to shrink up. Use this opportunity to unfurl and widen out again. Width is the relational space or community space. While centering your width, let yourself out more and let others in.
- Depth: Start with feeling what’s behind you. Feel your clothing on your shoulder blades, on the back of your legs. Then bring your attention through your internal landscape, your heart, your guts, all the way through to the front of your body. This increases your access to depth, allowing you to feel more and differentiate between those feelings.
- Purpose: Remind yourself of what you’re committed to, what you care about, who or what you really love. Bring that to center as well. From your center, let your purpose feel you out. Inform your nervous system with what you’re committed to.
We encourage you to give centering a try! Once you’ve made it a daily practice, you will stay centered in every action and interaction, allowing yourself to act from your values all the time.
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