Centers and Balancing Them
Centers are a concept that is intuitively known to everyone, though not necessarily by that name. We know almost immediately when interacting with someone: Is this person a “head” person? Or are they a “heart” person? Or a “body-centric” person. This is the same as being Intellectually Centered, Emotionally centered, or Moving centered, respectively.
Expanding this, centers essentially little energetic ‘computers’ in which the experiences we live are filtered, processed, and delivered to our consciousness. There are 7 centers in all, although there are mainly three most people consciously interact with on a regular basis. These three are essentially summed up as “heart, mind, and body”. In the Michael system, these correspond to the emotional, intellectual, and moving centers. The Gurdjieff system – and many other systems, such as NLP – also have analogous concepts.
This article will mostly deal with these 3 most commonly used centers and partly with the Instinctive center. The instinctive center, loosely speaking, is the center that supports all the other centers by keeping the body alive via instinct and keeping records of experiences. The remaining 3 centers â???? Higher Intellectual, Higher Emotional, and Higher Moving centers â???? are explained elsewhere. However, balancing the 3 ‘lower’ centers is an effective tool to enable you to access the higher centers.
One interpretation of why they are called ‘centers’ is that we tend to ‘center’ our consciousness in one of them. Thus an ‘intellectually centered person’ will interpret all experiences through this perceptual lens. Emotions could be categorized, labeled, psychoanalyzed, and even considered ‘not valid’ unless the reasons for them are understood. A moving-centered person would listen to what the body says, store information in the body, and listen to the intuitive wisdom of the body more than others.
The concept of centering applies both to the individual as well as to a family, a group, a community, a nation, or a world. The western world is very much intellectually centered, though there are pockets which have other centering. In general, the order of preference of the 3 main centers are:
- Intellectual center: Almost all high paying corporate jobs are primarily based here.
- Moving center: Some athletes are rewarded, and this center is needed to ‘get things done’.
- Emotional center: Emotions are recognized, but are often seen as something to ‘deal with’ rather than use with intelligence, as a form of perception or to enrich one’s life.
Centers are related to chakras, but are not identical. Chakras are gateways of energy, allowing energetic movement and interaction between the “outside world” and your own experience. A chakra is not where you process this energy, but is the conduit of that energy from within to without and back. There is thus a high level of interaction between centers and their appropriate chakra.
Imbalance in Centers
As mentioned, most people have a ‘favorite center’. This is usually where they spend the greatest amount of time â???? perhaps all of their time – operating from. There is nothing wrong with this, as no center is in any way ‘better’ than any other. Each center has its own unique strengths. At the same time, when one center is relied on to solve everything â???? including areas which are not its specialty â???? imbalances occur. This might be equivalent to using a screwdriver when a wrench is the easiest tool. A common scenario might be an intellectually centered person in a relationship fight who insists on being ‘rational’ while denying all emotions, intuitions, and warmth at that moment.
These imbalances affect health in the body as well. When there is imbalance or blockage, the flow of energy meridians in the body will be affected. There may be a concentration of energy in one area, leading to problems in that area or surrounding ones. Much of Traditional Chinese Medicine and acupuncture comes from thousands of years of observing the flow of chi, or energy, in the body, and noting where the most natural flow is in the body. When energy gets re-routed in areas the body was not designed to handle it, over time illness can occur. This is analogous to what an imbalance of centers is.
Beyond health issues, being imbalanced â???? and this is the most important aspect – will restrict the perception of what choices are available. If you are imbalanced towards one center, you will only see possibilities based in that center, even if they are inappropriate ones. The imbalance creates a buildup of energy that can fixate into patterns of behavior that may not always be appropriate. Thus in the example of the person insisting on being ‘rational’ above, there is usually no awareness that there is another way to be. The consciousness is seated entirely in one center and has no easy routes to other centers, and so only sees the options from that place.
When it comes to centers, the whole is more than the sum of its parts. This means that if you have all of intellectual intelligence, emotional intelligence, and body/world intelligence, you will be a much more powerful force to the world than three people manifesting each of these. Adding the awareness of the other 4 centers is more powerful still. Balancing the centers enables a much more regular and clear access to the higher centers, which are the source of epiphanies and ecstatic religious experiences.
Connections between Centers
The centers communicate amongst themselves. Because each center has their own intelligence, each benefit from the very different intelligence of the others. When used in co-ordination, there is immense power and wisdom that can be tapped by person. The emotions may inform the brain of their own wisdom, which then makes a more wider scope decision than it could have otherwise if it denied any emotional factors.
Most people have only certain pathways in the connections between centers open to them. To give an example, one person may be intellectually centered and base his consciousness there. He may not be open mentally to listening emotional sensitivities, and thus it is generally only the intellect that affects emotions, and not vice versa. There may be a good two-way connection between the body and the brain (but not the body and emotions). There may also be a strong emotional memory of certain pain in the past from the instinctive center, but thoughts of these events are unwanted and blocked. This may result in a connection flow such as this:
This is of course a simplified diagram of the connection in this example (your habitual connections may differ), but it is helpful to illustrate that connections exist and can be blocked.
The goal of balancing the centers, or being a balanced human being, is to ensure there is a good two-way connection between all the centers in the body. Each center listens and speaks to every other center, and each center performs its natural function while allowing others to perform in their own strengths. There is a perfect complimentary nature to all the centers, each helping the others in its own way. The idea of a ‘balanced man’ in Gurdjieff is based on this.
Parts of Centers
Nothing is an island in itself, and this includes centers as well. There are thoughts that have much emotional energy, and emotions that are close to being a thought. In this framework, this is because each center can be thought of as being itself a spectrum of all the centers, or a spectrum of 7 parts. (Again, we will focus only on the 3 “lower” centers here) Thus within the moving center, there exists a spectrum that covers the energy of all the centers in your body, but with a moving-centered foundation laid under it. So the emotional part of the moving center would deal with body-centered states and motions that have a definite emotional expression or focus.
The Michael Channel Shepherd Hoodwin has written the following about centers, introducing the part of a center:
Every center has seven parts of centers, which is a sort of doorway into the other centers. The parts of centers have the same names as the centers themselves. So there is an intellectual center, and an intellectual part of every center. Also, your part of center is like your secondary centering.
The part of a center is both within the original center as well as part of a connection with the matching center. Thus, as shown in the diagram, the Intellectual part of the Moving Center naturally connects with the Moving Part of the Intellectual Center.
If you could imagine each of the centers in the body, the various parts, and the interconnecting energies, you would get a picture of immeasurable beauty, a complete system that is in effect a miniature reproduction of the energies of the 7 planes of existence. When someone has all the centers connected to each other, there tends to be a great feeling of peaceful completeness. All is well.
Each part of each center has their function. Here is a table of some manifestations of the parts of the 3 more common centers a person might have. It is by no means a comprehensive list.
|Part of center||Manifestation|
|Intellectual center, intellectual part||Pure thought, abstract theory. Thought for the sake of thought.|
|Intellectual center, moving part||Planning events and what to do.|
|Intellectual center, emotional part||Poetry, thought and words with a weight of emotion attached. Psychotherapy.|
|Emotional center, intellectual part||Awareness of emotions, where they come from, and what they mean.|
|Emotional center, moving part||Movement of the body as expressing emotions.|
|Emotional center, emotional part||Pure emotion; crying, joy, perceptual feelings and some energetic sensitivity. Emotions for the sake of emotions.|
|Moving center, intellectual part||Thoughtful actions, finishing projects, tai chi, movement meditations. Movement with awareness.|
|Moving center, moving part||Running, pure dance, movement for the sake of movement.|
|Moving center, emotional part||Emotive expression of the body. Dance, physical theatre, embodying emotions. Catlike movement.|
When centers are discovered in someone or are channeled about them, what is usually given is the main center and the part of that center that is usually inhabited. In the example above, one’s consciousness can be fixated in the moving part of the emotional center. This is still the intellectual center, but is an aspect of thought that is focused on getting things done: thoughts about action.
The part becomes the trap
Returning to the connections between the centers, as mentioned earlier, most people have only a smaller number of connections active. When someone’s awareness is based in the Intellectual part of the Moving Center, this does not necessarily mean their connection to the Intellectual Center is well established. Often this connection is blocked to some degree, which means that there is some blocked energy, and the ‘part’ becomes the ‘trap’. It is a ‘trap’ because the majority of a person’s focus is spend locked in that part of the center, with significant inflexibility in accessing the wisdom of other centers.
For an example, say you were trapped in the Moving part of Intellectual center. In this trap, the energy that comes from a thought about putting something in the world would not move into action, nor come out as emotions that might inspire you further. You might think over and over thoughts about a plan of action, potential problems, analysis of other people involved and so on, but not do anything towards the plan. The impulse stays in the intellectual center, without using the balancing and completing energy of the moving and emotional centers. The trap tends to be a downward spiral, no matter what center it is based in. In this case, there might be a recognition of procrastination going on, in which case even more thoughts about doing something about it would form. Rather than solve the blockage in flow between the centers, this places even more energy in the already over-utilized centers. Those in a trap will have thoughts that things aren’t working because they’re not trying hard enough. There is thus more energy spend in doing the same thing with the same method, thinking things will be different.
Another example might be being trapped in the Moving part of Emotional center. This trap could appear in a number of ways, from always having a “jittery” feeling, to being very reactive to emotional events. In essence, there is an immediate emotional reaction to events, and then there is a reaction in the body (inwardly or outwardly) that keeps one in an emotional state. Any action that appears tends to be a frustrative reaction rather than a productive choice, and will have a strong emotional flavor. The full power of the Moving center has not been engaged and it is hard to step back and think in a detached manner about choices when a strong emotion is present. The trap is most noticeable when the reactions to emotions perpetually create even more emotions, leading to a life filled with emotional drama.
It is important to see that no trap is “better” than any other. They are all limitations: of perceptions, of resources, of choice. Society might have a preference that says it’s better to be stuck in the intellect, but aside from societal preferences there is no ‘better’ trap. Some will be more internal than external and are not as obvious to others who are not closely connected. The only issue is that of being whole; living more completely in who you are.
This ends Part 1. Part 2 involves techniques for balancing the centers.
? If you like this, read the next in the series!