I started to get into a discussion the other day with a friend of mine, Erica, about centering your life and your personal spirit but we got interrupted by something and I never got a chance to answer. That’s a good thing though because the question really made me sit down and think about something that I do instinctually after a few years in Aikido. Erica was commenting on how I seem to have a feeling of peace and tranquility around me no matter what is happening, and she asked “how do you center?”
That question really kind of stuck in my mind. I started asking myself that question over and over. Now, what is it to be centered? I first really learned of this concept from Aikido. For those of you who are not familiar with Aikido, it’s a very spiritual form of Japanese martial art. Its goal is not to harm others or destroy the enemy. Its goal simply stated is to “restore peace where peace is absent.” In effect, that’s a bit of what being centered is about. Keeping peace in yourself no matter what is going on around you. You can be in the middle of a hurricane and you’ll be fine because you’ll become the center of the wind and control it by going along with it. When you are in the middle of a hurricane step into the eye of the storm and find peace.
Aikido teaches the following principles to maintain center. Generally this is applied to a physical martial technique but I’m going to take it to a social level like O’Sense himself would have done.
Keep One Point: This means to maintain focus. Keep your mind on what you are doing at the moment. It’s ok to let your mind wander from time to time but when business gets serious don’t think about anything but keeping your mind in the moment. Strive for a “relaxed concentration.” Do not panic. Do not generate drama. Do not endorse or allow another’s drama into your life. Keep anyone and anything that thrives on drama as far from you as you can. Drama has a tendency to let things get out of focus and can ruin your neutral and impartial perspective on a situation.
Relax: Maintain your cool and calm flow at all time. Rocks, diamonds and anything with tension will eventually shatter. Be as water, water can adapt to any situation at any time and be perfectly comfortable doing it. If you pour round rocks into a square container and what happens? You get round rocks in a square container. nothing has happened. There has been no adaptation to the situation. Now, if you pour water into a square glass you get square water. It molds the situation (container) and still maintains it’s cool, flowing properties. Water can permeate anything and cut any substance known to man given enough time. Water is one of the strongest substances on the planet and it’s because it’s flowing (adaptive) but no container (situation) you put it in will change what it is. It’s still water and its still just going with the flow. Now, this doesn’t mean that you’re a totally docile and tranquil person. Water experiences extremes too when it gets too hot it turns to steam and tries to escape the situation. When it gets too cold it freezes and becomes rigid and can be shattered. Just like water, from time to time something can get your ire up but you don’t let yourself get all bent out of shape about it. When the stress is over be as the water and return to your natural docile state. Express yourself and then let it go, return to your state of tranquility and start going with the flow again. One must recognize that one panicked or dramatic moment does not control your destiny and that any obstacle can be overcome once you fully realize the truth of the situation and study it.
Keep Weight Underside: Keeping your weight underside keeps you from being top-heavy and helps in maintaining your balance. Prioritize your life. You don’t have to get uptight about it but figure out what really matters to you. Don’t put the things that really matter to you on top of your shoulders. Those things should be your foundation. My spiritual quest is what really matters to me. I seek to understand the truth of the universe and how it works and why we’re here. That is my top priority in life. That’s what I’m here for and ultimately the only thing I’ll be able to take with me out of this incarnation. Don’t let the stuff that doesn’t meet your ultimate goals or your reason for being on the planet throw you out of balance. Keep it in its place and if it starts to throw you out of balance get it out of your life.
Extend Ki: This basically means to reach out with your heart, your spirit and your mind to all things. Extend your spiritual arms out to aid you in what you need. Trust in the spirit and use it to meet your goals. Are you walking through the dark scary woods of life or are you strolling through a forest enjoying the view of nature and paying attention to your surroundings?
Meditation is a wonderful way to calm the spirit and gain a GREAT amount of insight into what motivates you and the topics/issues that really matter to you whether you’re aware of them or not. I recommend everyone find some sort of guided or unguided meditation technique and try to find even a few minutes a day either before you go to bed or when you wake up or any other spot in the day where you can find the quiet time. Not only will you benefit from the air of serenity around you but other people will as well. Even if the people around you aren’t consciously aware of your energy it will float to their mind and they’ll be aware of it on some level.
Now, take those principles and apply them to your every day life and every situation you get into and sooner or later the world around you will fall into harmony. When you get out of center return to these principles and sooner or later you will again find your center. It may not be some euphoric bliss with angels singing and pan running through your living room playing haunting woodland tunes but there will be tranquility and there will be order and there will be peace.