It's not hard to reason this one but you migh...
Malti Bhojwani is a certified life coach who offers her services at Multi Coaching International. When she's not teaching people how to deal with work-related stress, she's helping scores of corporates, educational institutes, and individuals better themselves using her unique coaching techniques. She's also on Guylife's expert panel; begin the process of self-improvement by asking her a question.
In the first part of this series, I presented a deeper understanding of stress and started listing solutions for all your workspace woes; I will continue from there, assuming you have already read the first part of this series. If you haven’t yet, you can do so right here.
Make a Choice: Choose to respond to situations rather than reacting impulsively out of your anger, which is induced by your stress in the first place.
Identify the Stressor: Most of the things that get us stressed are not life-threatening.
Some major life-changing events can cause stress and most therapists would suggest not taking on too many of those simultaneously. For example, change of work, change of place of residence, change of relationship status, and the death of a loved one.
However, when we are dealing with regular day-to-day stressors, my recommendation is to learn to identify that your body and your language are going into stress mode and then replace your body position, breathing pattern, and language immediately with more useful and productive alternatives.
Centering: And finally, we come to the most useful step but it is only possible to try this once you have made up your mind to implement my initial suggestions. What I have for you is a step-by-step guide to a process called Centering. You can relate this to putting the gear-stick in your car in 'neutral' before moving it to gear 1, 2, 3 or even reverse. When you are feeling stressed, it is an indication that you are off-centre.
This exercise will take barely two minutes and you can do it anywhere--at your desk, in the bathroom, car, elevator, anytime. The idea is to make it habitual and practice it several times a day in order to etch new neurological pathways and new habitual body positions so that you can get into 'Centre' mode easily.
Small amounts of fear and stress let us know we're alive and moving in the right direction. Feeling the fear and doing something anyway can be exhilarating and rewarding. Let the fear and stress bring you closer to your goals.
Allowing yourself to go into the "freeze mode" I mentioned in Part 1 will stop you from achieving your dreams and limit your happiness. Most of all, learn to be light and add humour to situations that you cannot do anything about. Life does not have to be so serious!
Why You Need to Center Yourself
When people ask me why they need to center themselves, here's how I respond. When you can find your center--the center of your body, thoughts and emotions, and language--you can revolve around your own axis. When you revolve your life around someone other than you, you lose your own alignment. Just as the earth revolves around its own axis daily and at the same time also revolves around the sun, if you don’t find your own axis to revolve around, you cannot be there for anyone else.
The following centering exercise is derived from the BEL Model by the Newfield Network.
How to Center Yourself
- Close your eyes. Sit in an open body position with your feet flat on the floor. Your palms should be open and face upwards on your thighs.
- Notice the fabric of your pants and how they feel on your skin; notice the feel of your feet on the ground.
- Close your eyes softly, relax your eye-lids, balance your head on your shoulders without leaning forward or backwards. Relax your shoulders.
- Breathe into your Dan Tian (2 inches below your navel), in and out. Place your left hand on your belly and imagine your breath flowing into there, imagine the center of your belly in depth and in width, imagine the spot that is equidistant from your front, back, left and right. This is the center of your body.
- Accept things as they are--all your thoughts, emotions, and feelings. Put everything else aside. They are already in the past. Accept them, don't change or resist, and just accept your emotions. Acceptance is the center of emotion.
- Silence. Imagine that it is silent all around you--totally quiet. Silence is the center of language.
- All you have to do now is notice your breathing and notice the 3 centers--of your body, your emotions and your language.
- Open your eyes. You are centered. You are now in neutral; from here, your choices increase. You can "go" anywhere from here with grace and with ease. You are now equidistant linguistically, in your body and in your feelings from every other body position, emotion or language.
Put It Into Practice
Practice this often and do it anywhere; you can practice centering standing up, before you go from one meeting to the next, from work to home, or from one call to another.
We say practice because there is no being centered all the time. You go off-center and you come back when you notice it. Whenever you feel overwhelmed or discombobulated, confused or annoyed, stressed or afraid, overly excited or concerned, you are off-center--so just take 2 minutes and center yourself.
Some claim that it has to be “embodied” before it can be really useful in your life. My claim is that just making a habit of centering yourself is one of the best stress-relievers you can incorporate into your life. Center when you are shifting from one meeting to the next, when you getting off a vendor call and on to a sales call, or when you are moving from “hard-baller” at work to “loving dad and husband” at home.
You cannot be centered all the time. Being centered in every moment is not the aim. The focus is to notice when you are off-center and to have the awareness and capacity to make the conscious choice to come back to center over and over again.
Remember, learning is not the acquisition of knowledge; rather, it is practice plus time. In other words, knowing about centering is different than centering itself! Knowing about cycling or driving is different from actually riding a bike or driving a car. So the sooner you start practicing, the better. Good luck!
-Pictures courtesy Thinkstock-
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