A Deeply Relaxing and Centering
Meditation Practice to Bring You Into Expanded Awareness
BY DIANA LANG
regularly practicing the centering meditation will train your mind and body to move into deep states of relaxation and expanded awareness. photo: martin bliedung photocase.com
What Is The Centering Meditation?
Meditation is a state of consciousness. It is a growing thing that, when nurtured and cared for, grows strong and constant, like a big old oak tree. You can count on it. Every time you meditate, it is as if you are building a mountain, onelayer at a time. Meditation is like strata; once a layer is set down, it becomes a permanent part of your landscape. It is cumulative. When you meditate again, you add another layer to your mountain. You keep getting stronger and stronger. Even if there’s a gap of many years in your meditation practice, this stratification doesn’t go away. It’s right where you left it. You just pick up where you left off. Usually, it will have grown on its own some, too.
Meditation is a discipline of mind blended with spirit that teaches concentration and focus. It brings clarity to every area of your life. It broadens your perspective, opens your mind to new ideas, and helps you feel free. Sometimes we associate it with prayer, and of course, it is this too. Meditation is an elegant mental discipline that increases our spiritual connection. In the oldest recorded teachings, thousands of years old, it is said that meditation is the settling of the mind into stillness. This is true, and yet to meditate is not to silence the mind, or to not think, or to be thought-less. It is to be full of mind. Mindful. Full of mind, without attachment, without judgment.
This growing knowing is deep within you and always available to you. It is right there, always. It is a conscious breath away. We are never separate from our knowing. It is an infinite continuum of everlasting love and appreciation, ever available, ever knowing, ever loving. All we have to do is open to it. It’s right there. If ever we become disconnected, it is only because we have disconnected ourselves. And that’s all right. All you have to do is choose again. The moment we choose again, we are reconnected, instantly and always. And one of the easiest ways to connect is through centering meditation.
the benefits of relaxing meditation practices are cumulative, meaning they increase over time. photo: caleb george
Very likely in your own life, you have been in a meditational state and not even known it. Meditation is a quality of mindfulness, a heightening of awareness, an acute perception, and a more complete usage of all your sensory awareness.
If you’ve ever taken a walk and, as you strolled, noticed a birdcall, and a little shift of wind, and the rhythm of your footfall balanced to your breath—then you were centered in meditation. If you gaze at the sunset and time seems to stop, this is a meditation. If you are ever moved by the sound of a singer’s voice and your heart thrills, or you feel the expansion in your body as a dancer leaps, and seems to hover in midair, in that moment you are meditating—and in that moment you remember who you are. Whenever you are fully present and every part of you is awake, then the sparkle in a loved one’s eye, or a touch, or a prayer becomes a meditation.If the wisest part of you could speak with you, what would it say? It is not concerned with the details of something, or even the outcome of a plan. It would say to you that you are good, that you are worthy, that you are loved beyond anything you can imagine. It would say, Live big. Manifest your dreams. Risk loving again and again—and again and again. And it would say, in a thousand ways a moment, all truly is well.
Right Where You Are
Just be present.
The answers you are looking for can be found right where you are. Your point of power is in this present moment. It is so simple, yet it is true. All you need to do is know where you are in this moment in order to gain your orientation and sureness of footing. If you don’t know where you actually are, all the good or even profound direction in the world could lead you far from your intended destination. If you don’t know where you’re standing, your aim will be far from the mark.
A centering meditation helps you know where you are in time and space. It grounds you in the world so that you can move forward with ﬂuidity and grace. Like a big red arrow on a map at the mall, it lets you know that you are here. When you understand where you actually are, the universe opens up with a thousand choices, each one unique and perfect in its own right, making it easy to know what your next step is.
All you have to do is open your heart to the light and energy that ﬂows through us in every moment. That ﬂow is always present; it is constant and perfect, always available to you. Imagine a stream of pure love pouring from the universe straight into you. Imagine that same pure love ﬂowing and dancing around and through every single thing on this planet and beyond this planet, every rock, every blade of grass, every deer in the forest, every star in the sky. Everything is connected to this ﬂow.
And you are too. The only reason we don’t feel it is because we think that somehow we are separate from it. But we are it, and it is us. Feel it right now, in this very moment—let yourself open to the ﬂow of love that is coursing through every single thing on this planet, through every single atom of every single one of us.
Relaxing into meditation gives us an experience of this, so we feel it and know it deeply, beyond words. Meditation opens your mind and heart. The opening of your heart is the most precious gift you can give the world. It affects everyone, and in this way meditation is also service: it supports the whole of humanity and all of life. As you become more aware, more conscious, you blaze the trail for the rest of us to follow, and our paths become much easier because of the steps you have taken. Know this, in your unfolding, in your deepening: that your inner journey creates an easier way for all of us.
By meditating we open into love. We enter a place that is sacred. By knowing where we are, we create an opening, a window to expanded consciousness. In that opening, we can feel and merge with the creative force of the universe. This cosmic creativity is simply love. We may call it God, or nature, or luck, or spirit, or universal energy, or a higher power, or something else. Whatever you call it, it is still love. Pure love. Love that intends, love that makes, love that builds—not in an emotional way, but in a laserlike, conscious, and precise way.
“Recognize the magnitude, the beauty, and the inﬁnity of who you really are.”
When we relax into meditation, we begin to recognize our connection with this creative force, and we begin to know that we are part of this love, that we are the same as this love. We are inﬁnite and eternal. When we meditate, we become one with our inﬁnite self. In our growing awareness of this higher self, we become much more than our personal self. We begin to recognize the magnitude, the beauty, and the inﬁnity of who we really are.
How to Practice Meditation
Self-realization is realizing the Self.
There are really only two things you need to do to meditate: become aware of yourself and stay there for a while. This formula is not only a simple way to practice the centering meditation but also a key to life: it shows you how to be mindful where you are, wherever you are. It helps you become more and more conscious from moment to moment, and to be your true self, in every situation, in every circumstance.
Relaxing into meditation is simple and practical. In a curious way, it is as ordinary as it gets. At first, many people who try it think they are not doing it right. It’s so simple and unextraordinary, they believe meditation must be something more complex or esoteric than what they’re doing. Because people often think they are doing their centering meditation wrong, many give up doing it at all.
It is a practice. Practice comes from the root word praxis, meaning “to do action.” You have to do the action for meditation to work. Every time you sit and relax into meditation, you are building up a spiritual “muscle.” The more you use it, the stronger it gets. It gains strength, agility, and capability over time. This energetic apparatus you build through the centering meditation will absolutely change the way your life works.In order to strengthen a muscle, though, you have to work at it. This is done through practice. Sitting. The more often you do it, the easier it is to do it. This centered place within you becomes firmly established and recognizable, and you can easily find your way back because you know your way by heart. After a while, you get used to feeling good and centered. It feels natural and reassuring and easy.
What you are effectively doing is expanding your consciousness. You are building a new muscle that heightens your awareness and lets creativity flow. You are learning to be free and open and unlimited, for this is truly who you are. Every time you practice the centering meditation, you lay down another layer of consciousness, like rings in a tree trunk. Remember: the consciousness you make—conscious moment by conscious moment—is what you take with you when you die. It is part of your soul’s accumulated knowledge, your soul’s wisdom. It is the basis of what you are, and it becomes part of the continuum of your inﬁnite self.
At first, you’ll be surprised at how busy the mind is, how many thoughts you have. The thoughts just stream on and on. You might wonder how in the world you could ever be still within all that. The trick is to learn to let this be. Don’t try to stop your thoughts; just allow them. You stand in the center of them, not grabbing on to any one of them, but simply watching the thoughts go by, absolutely in wonder of this most amazing parade you are making. You are the watcher of the parade, not the parade.
Exercise: The Centering Meditation
Find a relaxing place to practice the centering meditation.
Make your body comfortable in a position you can stay in for a little while, and close your eyes.
Let your body relax.
Relax your shoulders.
Relax your chest.
Relax your stomach.
Relax your forehead.
Become aware of your breath. Notice if it’s shallow or tense, and begin to even it out by letting the breath become deeper, fuller as you relax into the meditation.
Take several deep breaths through the nose, until the body and mind begin to feel calm. Soon you’ll feel the physical sensation of being centered and an inner balance.
Keep your attention steady. Allow your awareness to become still like a candle ﬂame, gently ﬂickering and constant.
Become more and more still.
As thoughts come into your mind, let them pass like clouds in the sky.
Don’t become involved with any single thought: just allow it to go by.
Anytime you ﬁnd your mind wandering or you become lost in thought, return to your breath again until you feel your mind and body come into balance once more.
Feel the stillness at the center of your being.
Sense the vastness of all that is.
Stay here for a while.
Even a moment will make a difference.
This is the heart of your centering meditation.
This is where you can bring your worries and fears, problems and plans, or just bring yourself without any agenda at all.
After a while, you’ll feel a natural sense of completion.
When you do, let your breath become more conscious again. Let it get deeper and fuller.
Let your awareness move into the heart and spread throughout your body as you gently transition out of your centering meditation, opening your eyes when you’re ready.
Now take this awareness into your day.
Today is a new day and anything can be.
Bring the gifts of your relaxing meditation into your daily life.
Let everyone and everything be touched by your refreshed perspective.
Look at everything with new eyes.
See your partner, your children, your job, your life, as brand new.
To listen to the audio version, go to dianalang.com/openingtomeditation
This article on centering and relaxing with meditation is excerpted with permission from Opening to Meditation: A Gentle, Guided Approach by Diana Lang.
About The Author
Diana Lang is the author of Opening to Meditation and the owner and director of the LifeWorks Center for Growth in Los Angeles, where she lives. She is also active in a variety of nonprofit international efforts to teach meditation and yoga. Visit her online at: www.dianalang.com.