How Do You Find Your Center?


“Each person is born with an unencumbered spot, free of expectation and regret, free of ambition and embarrassment, free of fear and worry, an umbilical spot of grace where we were each touched by God. It is this spot of grace that issues peace. Psychologists call this spot the Psyche, Theologists call it the Soul, Jung calls it The Seat of the Unconscious, Hindu masters call it the Atman, Buddhists call it the Dharma, Rilke called it Inwardness, Sufis call it Qualb, and Jesus calls it The center of Our Love.

To know this spot of inwardness is to know who we are, not by surface markers of identity, not by where we work or what we wear or how we like to be addressed but by feeling our place in relation to the Infinite and by inhabiting it. This is a hard lifelong task, for the nature of becoming is a constant filming over of where we begin while the nature of being is a constant erosion of what is not essential. We each  live in the midst of this ongoing tension, growing tarnished or covered over only to be worn back to that incorruptible spot of grace at our core.” Mark Nepo

Mark Nepo rightly notes that we each live in the midst of an ongoing tension. Part of it is caused by the natural stressors of living in a fast-paced, instant-gratification world, and part is our natural inner compulsion to grow and better ourselves. The reality is, we can’t grow without conflict or suffering. The different energies of the north and south poles need to interact to create our earth’s magnetic field. You have to contend with the different specialties of your brain’s two hemispheres as well as the realities of your inner and outer lives to resolve everyday problems.

Tension motivates change. If we can tolerate the tension of our conflicts long enough without acting rashly, our unconscious can find solutions that will further our growth. But if we ignore our tension too long without addressing it, it can create burnout and physical symptoms.

How do we address our tension? How do we find that magical, unencumbered spot of grace that issues peace? Whether we’re aware of it or not, this is a central question around which our lives revolve, but many of us are so distracted by our outer lives that we don’t stop long enough to hear the question, let alone try to answer it. To further complicate things, the answers vary from culture to culture and individual to individual. But four principles remain constant.

1. Create some personal alone time to find your center. This involves more than saying an occasional affirmation or prayer, listening to a weekly sermon, or hearing a few motivational speeches. You’ll need to be willing to delay some pursuits which your ego finds instantly gratifying in favor of ones that will bring future rewards which may be a long time coming.

2. Try different practices until you find what brings you to a place of love, joy, and peace. Pay close attention to your inner life, not only while you’re practicing, but throughout the rest of the day and coming weeks. Notice how your practice affects your emotions, moods, self-esteem, and relationships. Commit to the one or ones that make you come alive and bring you close to Spirit. Here are some I’ve tried:  writing, poetry, meditation, prayer, dreamwork, yoga, playing and listening to music, being with animals and nature, hiking, and reading. Of these, writing, dreamwork, and meditation have been the most helpful and enduring.

3. Persevere. Some practices take a longer trial period than others before you get into the groove and begin to notice beneficial effects that motivate you to continue. For example, I’ve always loved to write — letters, poetry, diaries, journals, stories, plays, etc. — but when I began to write my dissertation at the age of 39, it was far more difficult than fun. Since it was my dissertation, I forced myself to persevere. Because I had a part-time job and two children, I wrote for a few hours every night after they went to bed. Of course, this meant I had to let other responsibilities slide and my husband had to help more with the kids and household duties. At first, these changes were hard for all of us. But day by day my resistance lowered, my writing brought more pleasure, and my family grew accustomed to our new routines. By the time I finished several months later, I realized that this had been the happiest time of my adult life! Hard as it was, the moment I sat down at my typewriter, time disappeared and all my concerns dissolved until I got up again. It was pure magic.

4. Practice regularly. Daily is ideal. Set aside a time when you can be alone and concentrate for at least 20 or 30 minutes. But there’s no need to beat yourself up if you miss a few of these appointments with your soul. For example, when I first committed myself to dreamwork, I recorded and worked on dreams most mornings and totaled over 300 every year. Last weekend I finished summarizing my dreams from 2019 and my total was 119. Weeks passed when I didn’t remember and record a dream. But I’ve done this for so long that I know when I need to get serious about it again. And when I do, it always brings me back to peace and love.

What practices make your true Self come alive? If you haven’t found your center yet, may 2020 be your year of returning to that umbilical spot of grace where you were touched by God.

Image credits:  Serpentine Fire, Google Free Images, unknown. Heart Mandala, Google Free Images, Daniel B. Holeman.

Jean Raffa’s The Bridge to Wholeness and Dream Theatres of the Soul are at Amazon. E-book versions are also at KoboBarnes And Noble and Smashwords. Healing the Sacred Divide can be found at Amazon and Larson Publications, Inc. Watch for her new book, The Soul’s Twins, which will be launched later this year.

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11 Responses

  1. Your post is so ‘right on’ and wonderful for keeping my mental health. I do much of it, the problem I do have is journaling as what comes out is my depression, frustration, and anger, so I feel like I’m whining, consequently I rarely journal. I would like to journal so I felt some inspiration instead and I haven’t figured that out yet. Do you have any thoughts? I caregive for my husband, and I have some physical issues creating pain, thus my dark feelings. I’m due to have hip surgery this month and I pray that solves my pain issues. Keeping my spirit positive definitely takes some work, but I’m mostly winning! Again Thanks for your lovely post.

    1. You’re most welcome, Gwynn. I’m so glad this speaks to you. I understand about pouring our your frustration, pain, and anger in your journals. I do that in my dream journal when I have a dream that makes me aware of some emotional pain and then sometimes I dwell on it throughout the day. But over the years I’ve learned that I need to get it out so I can see it and deal with it.
      However once I’ve done that, I have to let it go so I can get on with my day. So then I give the part of me that’s feeling hurt and sad…I usually think of her as my Orphan Child… a little self-talk. I mentally speak to her like a loving mother (I basically think of this part of me as the wise observer, the Self). As the wise observer of my psyche, I tell my sad child that I hear her and I love her and I’m sorry she feels that way.
      Or if it’s my critical inner bully, I tell it, “Okay, that’s enough. I’ve heard you. Now I don’t want to hear it again. Your job for the rest of the day is to lift me up, not put me down!” 🙂 You get the idea.
      Then if I’m still feeling sad or low, sometimes I meditate for 20 minutes or so to get back to my center. Usually I concentrate on my breathing and the other physical sensations in my body. Before long I start to feel grateful for just being alive, just being able to feel and breathe, and that brings me back to my center.
      Other times I do a Ho-opono-pono meditation in which I say to the parts of me that are critical or hurting physically or emotionally: “I’m sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you. I love you.” I say this slowly and pay careful attention to what I’m saying until I feel the gratitude and love. And then I get on with my day.
      It takes a conscious effort and a certain amount of time to deal with painful feelings, but every time I do it I find it’s worth it. Now it usually comes automatically without even having to try. I’ll hear my critical bully or sad child in their usual emotions and then smile to myself and say, “Oh, there you are again. I’ve heard you. I love you.” And then I’m okay again.
      It can be very hard at first to find that place, but over time I’ve gotten much better at it. And that’s a huge reward in and of itself.
      Much love and warm wishes for a happier, healthier new year.

      1. Thank you, Jean, for your suggestions. My sad child usually shows up in the middle of the night and interrupts my sleep. However, like you and Deborah, I am also a walker as I walk the waterfront of Poulsbo. I LOVE the water and the fresh air, plus, I love talking to people and petting their dogs. This helps me a great deal.

        1. You seem to have discovered your own unique path to your center! Walking, water, air, people, and dogs! I suspect this is a prescription that would help many others as well….

  2. This is such a wonderful, motivating post. Thank you for sharing Jeanie! Like Gwynn, I also attend to many of the pursuits you suggest in order to keep those “appointments with one’s soul” (a great description!) but finds that pulling on my walking boots usually does it best!
    For getting outdoors and encountering nature, up close and personal, really lifts my spirit up high! And I feel doubly blessed to live within a very short walking distance of not only a beautiful beach in one direction but to an extraordinary, rich ancient woodland in the other.
    Following a numinous dream which I’ll be unpacking for months, I’m at the ideas stage of a new poem! Sometimes a poem flows straight onto the page and others take weeks for me to find the words as a new center calls, awakening this poet’s pen! Warm & wild blessings, Deborah.

    1. Thank you, Deborah. Yes, nature is a huge ‘spiritual uplifter’ for me too, but the Florida heat can be very daunting. However, when I spend my summers in NC, our heavily (and heavenly) forested mountain retreat makes up for the rest of the year. You are indeed blessed to live close to a beach and an ancient woodland all year round.
      I look forward to hearing more about your numinous dream. Your process is similar to mine. My writing is pretty much at the mercy of my occasionally merciless muse who can show up, or not, anywhere, including in my dreams and in daily synchronicities. Either way, I’m grateful for her attention. 🙂
      Warm winter blessings, Jeanie

  3. Thanks Jeanie, an important reminder to make those appointments with the soul, even if we baulk at them in the beginning. Practice does make it better and easier. The muse is more likely to appear if she’s acknowledged. Nature very often does it for me … a beautiful sunrise or sunset, a piece of writing, the odd synchronicity, a warm smile from a stranger …And when the black dog puts in an appearance as it does from time to time, I acknowledge it. I won’t say I pat its head but I do say hello. I’ll use that lovely Ho-opono-pono meditation along with deep breathing, thank you. Meditation is in my view essential to connect with the unified field of all possibilities if only for a nano-second.

    1. Oh, that black dog! A perfect description for those dark moods. Yes, I don’t welcome them but know it’s important to acknowledge them. The more self-knowledge and experience I acquire, the easier it gets to trust them and let them take their course. They seem to have a regulating function in my psyche. Like a long winter’s nap, they provide a much-needed rest after periods of over-exertion and stress. They also allow time and space for unconscious contents to percolate to the surface where I can heed their messages. We need to see the shadows before we can move into the light!

  4. Energy equation of cosmos is zero so is of an Atom ,
    Electron are negative charge as the cover and represent Time which is our Body ,
    Proton are positive charge connected with Nucleus is our Timeless Soul and
    Nucleus is zero and source of Oneness and totality and our center ,
    we have a center point on our belly , take a deep breath and let it touch our center it will bring peace and happiness . that why all meditation starts with deep breath .
    Namaste is easiest method to bring right and left brain together as left brain is time and right is timelessness ,
    putting both hands together we create state of Zero which is our center and source of eternal happiness and bliss .
    May be one day will write a detailed post .
    love to read your blog , always inspire me to write ,
    Thank you Divine Jean for your support from the first day on WordPress in year 2010
    with gratitude
    love all .

    1. Thank you Divine Ram for your support as well, and for sharing your deep well of wisdom with the world. It would seem that despite being from different cultures and religious traditions, despite living on opposite sides of the world, you and I share the same reverence for truth, life, love, peace, wisdom, and unity that connects all humanity and all religions at the deepest levels. I am grateful to the internet for making it possible for kindred souls such as we are to connect on a conscious level as well. With gratitude, Jeanie

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