CenteringFeeling scattered and distracted is such a common experience in our lives these days.

Rick Hanson talks about getting centered in today’s post in his Just One Thing series.

If you are feeling scattered, take one moment to be aware of your body as you take a long, slow breath, or think about something you feel good about. In that moment of paying attention to a source of a source of security you should notice that you feel more centered and less distracted.

Multi-tasking is the opposite of being centered. It is a state not that far from worry, your mind drawn in a hundred different directions. It is the experience of opening your email box and seeing twenty new, seemingly 10014803urgent messages. Or the experience of shopping in a busy store or supermarket… with tens of thousands of choices to be made your attention moves out to various objects of desire: this attractive person, that shiny car, this pretty sweater, that cool new cell phone, and so on… It draws you out of your center and into a world where you feel lost and anxious.

As Rick writes,

“Centered or scattered: it’s not a subtle distinction that’s just for yoga camp. When we feel grounded in a sense of center, we’re more resilient; it’s also harder to intimidate us with fear or manipulate us with greed. On the other hand, when we feel scattered, that’s stressful and thus bad for well-being and health. Plus it makes us more distracted and impulsive, and more prone to conflicts with others, and to compulsive or addictive behaviors.”

And it all begins with just one breath…

Belly Breathing“So follow the internal sensations of a single breath – the movements of the diaphragm just under your ribcage, the expansion and contraction of the chest, the coolness of inhaling compared to exhaling – and notice how this feels. Try this for ten breaths, counting them softly in your mind if you like. You could also be particularly aware of breathing in the area of your heart, or in the center of gravity of the body a few inches below your navel.

See if you can get a sense of your body as a whole, along with an attitude of acceptance, not judging. Doing this will tend to activate neural networks on the sides of your brain that support the sense of being peacefully present in the moment; it will also reduce activation in the “default network” running down the middle and top of your brain that fosters mind wandering and taking life too personally.

Also tune into your good intentions, the goodness altogether at the core of you. Know your own benevolence, your compassion and kindness. This knowing is very centering.”

If you liked this brief introduction I encourage you to sign up for the free Just One Thing newsletter. Or if you want to dive deeper you might want to sign up for his Foundations of Wellbeing program.