When do I feel centred?
How can I know when I am fully present to myself?
I always thought the only way to find my centre, to become present to myself was through solitude, silence and stillness.
So, I committed to a morning practice of silence and stillness. Every morning I find a comfortable position, I set aside any distractions, I close my eyes, and I move my attention to my breathing. I just stay for a few minutes. In the beginning, I was trying hard to not think. Then I realized that resisting was useless and tiring, so I just let everything flow.
Yet, more often than not, I don’t feel I find my centre. Sure, usually I got some good ideas out of that morning moments. My mind can be quite creative once it’s freed from the things to do.
But that sense of presence? I’m not sure.
The other day, I was talking about these things with a fantastic coach. She told me that when we are present to ourselves, we feel energized and things flow more naturally.
The curious thing is that in that exact moment, I was feeling energized and in a state of flow. Yet, I was talking with someone. Not really the idea of solitary silence and stillness I thought was necessary.
All of this to say that everyone may have a different and unique way to find their centre. Just pay attention to what makes you feel energized, and what depletes your energy.
That’s how my mind feels right now. I checked in every corner, behind every fold, inside every pocket.
Just crumbles of old ideas, leftovers from more inspiring mornings.
To be inspired is a daily practice of attention. Observing and listening, knowing that inspiration is everywhere because it is within us.
Attention outwards, to everything that surrounds us. But also inwards, listening to what is happening in the universe we hold inside.
And sometimes, nothing is happening.
At least, in my inner universe.
Or maybe I’m not paying attention enough.
Because I’m too tired or because something else is stealing my attention.
Whatever the reason, sometimes there’s just the void.
Sure, the best performers know how to do with that void. I’m pretty sure they have a rich set of tools and strategies to deliver even when they don’t feel inspired.
I’m not there, yet. I struggle to write when inspiration is not flowing.
But I’ve learned that the first step is to be aware of that void and accept it. Some days are just not my days.
I have no air left inside to breathe out. So, I need to pause and go out of my head to breathe in new and fresh air.
An out of tune guitar struggles to create harmonic sounds.
The same happens to me. When I am out of tune, I can’t concentrate and bring all of me on what I want to do.
Being out of tune, to me, it means to lose the alignment with my centre. It means that I’m not present to myself.
It happens, quite often honestly.
Something or somebody just pushes or pulls me away from my centre.
When that happens, everything becomes a drag.
No matter how much I try, if I don’t find my centre and become whole again, I almost useless.
Yet, some days there are things to do and tasks to complete so I keep pushing through even if I’m out of tune. More often than not, at the end of those days, I’m exhausted and not really satisfied with the outcomes.
That is why I find it vital to have tuning moments in my day.
Like what I used to do with my guitar. I stop playing for a minute, listen with attention and tune in all the strings.
Sometimes I need other instruments to find my tune, that’s the magic of tuning conversations.
“To pay attention, this is our endless and proper work.” Mary Oliver
They say that energy flows where attention goes. In every moment, our senses are flooded with signals. They are so many that our mind can’t really process all of them without overloading and getting stuck. According to a study by a neuroscientist named Manfred Zimmermann, 99.9996% of the information that you sense, goes unnoticed by your mind.
And it is on that tiny fraction of information, that we source our words and actions.
What defines the direction of our attention?
Is it a conscious choice or an unconscious one?
Sometimes I feel that my attention is informed by a chase. Something I need or have to achieve. I know when my attention is chase-driven because I always feel a step behind. My vision is narrowed on the object of my pursuit, and the rest of the world becomes blurred. I soon go out of breath and find my self exhausted.
In contrast, when I choose where to put my attention, my vision opens, time expands, and I feel energized.
Think about the things you’re giving your attention right now, do they make you feel energized? Is it a chase you’re in, or is it a choice?
Do you remember your last trip on a train?
It’s been a while, indeed.
Saturday I was talking with a friend about the power of slowing down sometimes. In particular, when we have a problem to solve or a solution to find quickly, it’s easy to rush forward.
While she was talking, I had this image of me travelling by train and looking out of the window.
While the train runs fast and smooth, I observe the scenery behind the glass. While everything close to the train is all blurred, my attention goes to the elements in the distance. I observe the mountains on the background, the shape of a town. I can embrace all of it, but I can’t see the details. It’s when the train slows down that I can appreciate all the details around me. The trees, the flowers, the people, the places we are running through.
I’m not even sure why I’m writing this. I guess it’s a reminder to myself that if I want to see the details, I need to slow down.