When I speak with people interested in Spiritualism, Yoga, or New Age, sooner or later I hear them say something like, “I connect with my center,” or “I stay in my center.” It is one of these sentences that became trendy some years back; fashionable, cool. But what does it really mean? When I asked the person I am speaking with, to elaborate, the explanation is often vague, using big words. Maybe that person knows and cannot put it to simple language, or maybe they wish for something that they themselves do not fully understand.
I admit that for years I didn’t grasp the idea of center myself, and thus refrained from using it. I would say that I am focused (at least some parts of the day…) or attentive, but not that I am in my center, as this was not something I was able to comprehend. Then, as my spiritual path took me via Taoism, Yoga, and other practices, all the way to South American Shamanism, the understanding came. The following is how I see the notion of center. For other people center may mean something else, thus this is my subjective experience.
Among the topics I teach at my Open Heart Energy practice, is Energy Shielding and Cleansing. Open Heart Energy, by the way, is the name of my business. Energy Shielding and Cleansing is a workshop that includes an introduction to the topic of Subtle Energy. The introduction is followed by a review of how, if we go unprotected, we can get contaminated. Such contamination is likely to result in a wide array of challenges; from the physical through the emotional, mental, and spiritual. I then teach different techniques for shielding oneself, and also how to cleanse in case contamination does happen. Even with the best precautions, infiltration of the peri-spirit(*) is bound to occasionally occur.
One of the best means of energetic protection is to stay at our center. To explain center as it pertains to energy shielding, I invite you to imagine a vessel, a container, a house. This represents our body. When we fully occupy that space, nothing else – no mocking spirits or other forms of challenging energies, can enter, as the space is already taken. It is like a full cup that will take no more liquids.
On the other hand, when we allow our thoughts to wonder off into unproductive territories, we evacuate the space and enable other energies to penetrate. Those energies are likely to be of darkness. My teacher, Kai Karrel, points out that, It is the way of darkness to act without permission, it is the way of light to honor our free-will. In other words, a law-abiding, decent citizen, would not enter our home without our explicit permission; even if we left the door wide open. A thief, on the other hand, will eagerly seize such an opportunity. Thus, when we leave our body’s door but ajar, the only ones who would take advantage of the situation, are likely to be of darkness. When this happens, our mood starts to shift. We may become agitated, or maybe depressed, anxious, angry, and even suicidal. This in turn may lead, over time, to physical manifestations of illness and mental breakdown. What am I to do? How can I stay at my center?
Like many situations in life, there is no magic pill nor an ancient spell that can fix this in an instance. Maybe someone else have found such a cure, but not one I am not aware of. All I can do is share my strategy.
For my approach, practice is needed; practice, patience, persistence, and forgiveness. Like an average Joe readying his body for attempting a marathon, we need to build the correct muscles slowly, patiently, and forgive ourselves when it doesn’t always work out the first time; realizing that it’s a practice.
What I did a while back in order to get myself started, is as follows. When I find myself veering off into those lands of the shadow; when my thoughts turn to judgement and criticism of myself and others, when I worry about things that happened in the past and that I cannot change, or things that are yet to come, and that my mind is playing games, telling me stories of negative outcome, I simply take note. That is the starting point and the most important part of the training. I don’t fight or deny what is happening; I just take note that right now, in this moment, I am telling myself a fictional story about the future, one that ends up as tragically. As this training progressed, I have conditioned myself to note this mind tendency promptly. That being said, I am still practicing, which means that on occasion I will miss a mind veer-off when it starts. Yet, as I practice repeatedly, the frequency of such instances lessens.
The next step in this training is not to argue with the mind. The mind is likely the most powerful organ in the body, and since it knows me all too well, I cannot readily cheat it. It is like an opponent that sees all my cards. Rather, I divert my mind onto a different line of thinking. Since the mind can only hold to one thought at a time (multi-tasking is a myth as, after all, it is just rapid switching between different single tasks,) if I task the mind with a different thought, like a child holding to a toy, being offered a shinier toy, it drops the first to grab the second. The new thought must be prepared in advance and include no darkness. For me it is my life’s purpose. I remind myself why I chose to come into this life, into this body. I am a healer, a servant of the light, an attendant of others who can make use of my assistance. Each person can have their pre-set thought, their torch to their center. In some practices this would be looked at as a mantra. The challenge I find with mantras is that they do not mean much to most of us. Yes, OM is very cool, but does it really achieve what is needed? For some that may be the answer and that’s okay. But if chanting OM (or other mantras) doesn’t really have an effect, here’s a different option. The pre-set thought should not be something that depends on others. “I am a mother to my kids” presents a challenge. What will happen if one day those kids will be no more? Therefore it must be independent of outside conditions. For example, I am an instrument of love and compassion to others, can work.
After I recite my reminder, I find a way to connect with my heart. What does that mean, connect with my heart? It is another term that is being thrown around often. For me it means literally feeling my heart beating, pumping blood, keeping me alive. It is doing its job relentlessly, no matter how poorly I sometimes treat it. The heart is a servant of the body, much like I aspire to be a servant of others under the light. When I reach out to my heart, I feel my heart warming up, followed by a sense of expansion. I come back to my center; I occupy the energetic temple of my body, leaving no room for slaves of the darkness to enter, expelling those who may have sneaked in when I didn’t notice.
As mentioned earlier, this is a practice that requires patience, persistence, and forgiveness. When I occasionally go amiss, I forgive myself and rather than ruminate, I simply return to the practice. At times I may find myself in darkness. I didn’t pay attention and my house was broken into. This is a good time to remember a quote by St. Francis of Assisi: “All the darkness in the world cannot extinguish the light of one single candle.” Our candle is always burning bright, always, even if we cannot see it. When I cannot see my candle, I reach out and feel it instead, through my heart’s center.
(*) perispirit is a subtle body of energy, closely surrounding our physical body from the outside, It is used by the spirit to connect with the perceptions created by the brain. The term was originally coined by Allan Kardec in his books about Spiritism.