Anxiety and fear will make you contract and will pull you into dark places that are far from where you are in the moment. So, to counter that natural, you’ll need to learn how to come back to where you are.
The centering practice will teach you skills that will help you be right where you are and become more consciously aware of what matters to you. This practice will also help you come back to the present in your daily life when anxiety or other painful experiences try hard to pull you out of the moment.
Be mindful that there is no right or wrong way to do this practice. Just follow along as best you can. All you need to do is get in a comfortable position where you won’t be disturbed for five minutes. And then just close your eyes and listen along. You may also use the script below, though we’ve found that it is better to listen and follow along.
If you’d rather keep your eyes open, you can do that too, but it’s best to focus on a spot, say on the floor just in front of you, so you don’t get too distracted. We’ll end the exercise with a small chime and tell you when to open your eyes and move on.
EXERCISE: Simple Centering
Go ahead and get in a comfortable position in your chair. Sit upright with your feet flat on the floor, your arms and legs uncrossed, and your hands resting in your lap. Allow your eyes to close gently. Take a couple of gentle breaths—in… and out…in …and out. Notice the sound and feel of your own breath as you breathe in…. and out…
Now turn your attention to being just where you are. Notice any sounds that you may hear close to you and then farther away. Notice how you’re sitting in your chair and feel the place where your body touches the chair. What are the sensations there? How does it feel to sit where you sit?
Next, notice the places where your body touches itself, and bring your awareness to the spot where your hands touch your lap or legs. And now, imagine your awareness pouring down over your hips to where your feet touch the floor. How do your feet feel in the position that they are in? Notice too that your feet are firmly grounded to the floor and earth beneath you.
Now gently expand your awareness and just notice sensations in the rest of your body. If you feel any sensations in your body, just notice them and acknowledge their presence. Also notice how they may, by themselves, change or shift from moment. Do not try to change them.
Now let yourself come back to being just where you are, here with this workbook. See if you can feel the investment of yourself here, right now. What are you here for? If you’re thinking this sounds strange, just notice that and come back to the sense of integrity here. Be aware of the value that you are serving by being here.
And, see if you can allow yourself to be present with what you are afraid of. Notice any doubts, reservations, fears, and worries. See if you can just notice them, acknowledge their presence, make some space for them, and allow them to be there. You don’t need to make them go away or work on them. With each breath, imagine that you are creating more space for them, more space for you to be you, right here where you are. Now see if for just a moment you can be present with your values and commitments. Why are you here, working with this workbook? Where do you want to go? What do you want to do with your life?
Then, when you’re ready, let go of those thought and gradually widen your attention to take in the sounds around you, and slowly open your eyes with the intention to bring this awareness to the present moment and the rest of the day.
Let’s take a moment to reflect on your experience with the Simple Centering exercise. What’s important here is that you begin to notice your experience and what it teaches you. This will give you a sense of where you are as you begin your journey. So, let’s start there.
What showed up for you as you considered your intentions and why you are here, working with this workbook now to make changes in your life?
What sensations, if any, were you able to notice in your body?
List any thoughts that showed up that seemed to pull you out of the exercise (e.g., I can’t concentrate; this is boring, I’m not doing this right). Be specific.
Were you attached to any particular result by doing the practice—like feeling more relaxed, calm, or at peace? If so, note this below.
This Article is taken from The Mindfulness and Acceptance Workbook for Anxiety
Written by Arshad. A