Centered vs. Uncentered
Yoga and meditation practitioners say that the body is controlled by the mind and the mind, in turn, is controlled by the breath. When mind and body are in tune with each other through the breath, we can consider ourselves to be “centered.”
When the body is out of control and we can’t settle ourselves down, we would consider ourselves to be “not centered.” This can happen before or during an audition, when sweating and shaking can become uncontrollable.
It can also happen to the mind. Instead of thinking about how well you will perform, your mind is going through the list of everything you’ll probably mess up. In either of these uncentered situations, we don’t do our best work.
When we think about being centered, or achieving our center, we can go back to the first line of the post: the body is controlled by the mind, and the mind is controlled by the breath. This is where we want to be: in a calm body, with a calm mind, breathing easily.
So, are you centered?
If you are like a lot people, you are an energetic multi-tasker. You do five or six things at once, shifting from your smart phone to the computer, to the TV, homework, and rehearsal flawlessly. You might even be stretching while you do all of that.
Although a useful skill in many ways, multi-tasking is, by definition, not allowing the mind to focus on one thing. If the mind is unfocused, it can be difficult to feel centered.
In some ways, this state of hyper-activity makes us feel accomplished. We can get so much done in a single morning or day! But the question today is, do we feel centered enough to do our best work?
To find out, answer these questions:
- When you want to focus on a single task, are you able to turn down the chatter in your mind and achieve total focus?
- How long can you remain in that state before your mind starts to activate or wander to other things?
- When you set a goal for yourself, can you accomplish it in the time you set aside for it?
- How often do you get distracted in the middle or before it’s done?
- Can you think of a time when you wanted to do good work, but your mind or body’s nervousness or anxiety got in the way?
The first step in getting centered is recognizing that you aren’t. Don’t worry if you’ve just realized that you are easily distracted – most people are! It’s actually very normal and natural.
Controlling our minds and bodies is a sophisticated skill that few people have mastered, mostly because they haven’t tried. Stay tuned to the next few posts where I will give you some tips to getting centered.