by Neil Fiore, PhD

Centering is a one-minute, twelve-breath exercise that transitions your mind from fretting about the past and future to being focused in the present — where your body must be. Centering in the present clears your mind of regrets about the past and worries about anticipated problems in the so-called future.

As you withdraw your thoughts from these imagined times and problems, you release yourself from guilt about the past and worry about the future. You experience a stress-free vacation in the present. Whenever you experience moments of the joyful abandon in play, the easy flow of creativity, or a state of concentration that leads to effortless optimal performance, you are practicing a form of “centering.” Use this exercise each time you start a project. Within just a week or two your body and mind will learn to naturally let go of tension and focus on working efficiently and optimally.

Read the following to yourself or tape record it and play it each time you start a project.

1. Begin by taking three slow breaths, in three parts: #1 Inhale, #2 Hold your breath and muscle tension, and, #3 Exhale slowly, floating down into the chair. With each exhalation — let go of the last telephone call or commute and float down into the chair. With your next exhalation, let the chair hold you and let go of any unnecessary muscle tension. Let go of all thoughts and images about work from the past. Clear your mind and your body of all concerns about what “should have” or “shouldn’t have” happened in the past. Let go of old burdens. Let go of trying to fix your old problems. Take a vacation from trying to fix other people. Let each exhalation become a signal to just let go of the past.

    Say to yourself as you exhale: “I release my mind and body from the past.”

2. With your next three breaths, let go of all images and thoughts about what you think may happen in the future — all the “what ifs.” With each exhalation, clear your muscles, your heart, and your mind of the work of trying to control the so-called future.

    Say to yourself as you exhale: “I release my mind and body from the future.”

3. With your next three breaths, say: “I’m choosing to be in this present moment, in front of this work.” I let go of trying to control any other time or striving to be any particular way. I notice how little effort it takes to simply breath comfortably and accept the just right level of energy to focus on this moment and this task — in the only moment there is, now.

    Say to yourself as you exhale: “I bring my mind into the present.”

4. For the next few minutes, there is nothing much for my conscious mind to worry about within this sanctuary. You are safe from the past and the future. I just allow the natural processes of my mind and body to provide me with focused concentration. I access my inner genius and its creative resources.

    Say to yourself as you exhale: “I am centered within my larger, wiser, stronger Self.”

5. With your next three breaths count up from 1 to 3: One, becoming more adequately alert with each breath; Two, curious and interested about going rapidly from not-knowing to knowing; and, Three, eager to begin, curious and interested about how much I will accomplish in such a short period of time.

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