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Centered Leader Series: Physical Centering

The first actionable step in practicing centered leadership is called centering. Centering is about physical balance, emotional adaptability, and spiritual focus. To practice centering, we start with finding your physical center, or your core. Physical centering is essential to keeping your body strong and calm.

The Core and the Center of Mass

Every object has a center of mass, or the point at which it is perfectly balanced. For humans, our center of mass is slightly below the bellybutton. Our body will balance around this point in order to achieve equilibrium, i.e. not fall down. Our center is also called our core. In Japan, seika no itten means “the one point below the navel.”

By focusing our mind on our center and breathing slowly and deeply, we physically center ourselves. When someone or something surprises us, we immediately turn inward to our center, rather than allow external stimuli to throw us off balance.

center of body

Angle shows approximate center of a female. (Source: Wikicommons)

A Core Experiment with Physical Balance

Decision Making and the Adrenaline Rush

In my last post, I wrote about the five methods for conflict resolution. While that’s useful for the moment after you’ve calmed down and decided how to handle the conflict, none of those solutions address the initial response we have when taken off guard.

When something surprises us, our bodies respond by secreting adrenaline. Our heartbeat speeds up, our pupils dilate and we begin to breathe rapidly or even hold our breath. This is called an adrenaline rush. An adrenaline rush does not help us in a crisis unless we train ourselves in how to deal with that specific situation before we encounter it the fight or flight response will kick in. The key is how to move through that response as quickly as possible and regain your composure (center) so you can address the issue at hand in a calm, focused manner.

Single Position Leader v. Centered Leader

A single position leader, who might not consciously access her center, will have a difficult time keeping calm or thinking clearly when confronted with a crisis. She will hold her breath and effectively cut off oxygen to her brain. Her vision narrows and she is unable to process the situation or decide what to do. While possibly successful, it is essentially like having only one tool in your toolbox.

A centered leader, regardless if she has been trained on how to handle that particular situation, will immediately focus on her one-point and begin to breath slowly and deeply. In those few seconds she centers herself, oxygen returns to her brain, she observes her surrounding environment, and is able to make a clear decision about how to proceed.

A centered leader can stay calm in the middle of life’s storms. If stress is at an all-time high at work, she will breathe and concentrate on staying grounded so as not to allow her body to react and be knocked off-balanced by anxiety and fear.

In the next installment of The Centered Leader Series, I’ll talk about the Benefits of Mindfulness.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]