This is second of a two part series. For the preceding article, see part 1.
To summarize the previous article, having an imbalance of centers 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.
So let’s get on to… Techniques for Balancing.
Focusing on the trap
To continue the example in the first part of this series, the solution to the downward spiral of the trap (when you’re in an obsessive loop that just gets more and more dysfunctional) is to bypass this trap by using other centers in your body. What is normally recommended is moving over to the actual center instead of the part. In the case of the Moving part of the Intellectual Center (which is still in the Intellectual Center) this would mean fully Moving centered activity: going for a walk, exercise, dancing, cleaning, or certain forms of energy work. However, utilizing any other center can often help break this pattern, including higher centers.
Doing non regular activities (e.g., going for a walk in a forest) can often help anyone stop circular thought or emotional patterns. Likewise, listening to emotional music and singing along with it can help intellectual or body patterns. And finally, stopping to do a Sodoku puzzle can help distance oneself from emotional and body roadblocks.
The usual downside with using the method of focusing on the trap is not really the method itself, but how it is approached : reading material and thinking about ‘how to approach’ something means that invariably you will be using the intellectual center somewhat. Having a living teacher can mitigate this, but most people read this method from books or online. This is why doing nothing but reading self-help books rarely provides a full balance; there will always be a thought-based focus.
Balancing the centers again means knowing when and how to access ALL your natural intelligence at a given time. Some situations call for certain specialization, and allowing yourself to naturally gravitate to that portion of your entirety is much more efficient than first moving to your comfortable or “favorite” center and then struggling to move from that one to where you really need to be in order to process the situation you’re in. So the trick is, then, is intuitively knowing what center to use that works for you and having the access and openings in place to use it without effort. This intuitively knowing must be intuitive: it cannot, for example, be based in the emotional center. It is also based in a good communication between the centers being already in place, so that when one center exclaims “this one’s for me”, it is heard.
Therefore, another method is to simply focus on opening these connections.
Building up Inter-center communications
Again, when there is an open, well-used connection between all the centers, it is far more easy to see all the choices available in every moment. Like building a highway system between cities, it can take time and attention to cultivate these connections. They are all available to all of us in childhood, but for the most part blockages and decisions cause many interconnections to become unused.
The most basic example is to simply go through all of the parts of centers in the table above and practice being in them. Practise moving from center to center as Figure 2 describes: moving from the part of one center to the part of the related center. (e.g., Emotional part of Intellectual to Intellectual part of Emotional). After exploration, ask yourself these questions:
- Were you completely immersed in the experience?
- Was there an extra resource of energy that came?
- Was there a sense of fun and playful exploration?
- Did you involve other centers? (e.g., if you are exploring the emotional center and its parts, were you analysing it while doing something?)
When you are fully immersed in a center, you are tapping in to a greater resource of energy than is normally available to you. Perhaps you have seen people participating in tribal African dances. If someone does not have a background in this very Moving centered activity, then there will be an attempt to do the movement from another center. They will think about the moves, and then do the moves while watching themselves and evaluating. However, there can be a shift in which suddenly there is no thought about doing it “right” – one simply dives into the experience of being completely in the body and loving the motion of limbs, the freedom and play of intense motion. It is at that moment that the Moving center is fully activated. It is also in those moments that access to the higher centers are more available.
All centers’ energies are more available to you when there is that sense of immersion and play. University professors usually learn to play with their thoughts in order to keep the joy and energy going of a purely intellectual experience. Emoting actors must have a great sense of play to keep the energy repeated throughout every performance. Balancing the centers is work, but for it to work, there must be a great deal of play as well.
It is useful in the path of balancing centers to have a series of exercises that aid in experiencing other centers and communication between parts of different centers. Again, this is because trying to learn something exclusively from printed words is a surefire way to keep yourself in the Intellectual center. Some exercises can be done alone, but it is recommended to do things in a group, or at least one other person. It is much easier to trick yourself into keeping to a familiar center when you’re alone. In a group there is a natural play and family feeling.
Here are some exercises that may help revitalize connection pathways between your centers.
Exercise 1: Instinctive-Moving Center connection
The instinctive center governs instinct, basis processes of the body, and a repository of memory. This exercise comes from Vipassana Buddhist meditations.
First, sit (or stand) and do nothing but pay attention to the breath. For a few movements, watch the inbreah and outbreath. Notice how it affects every part of your body. Notice the rise and fall of your chest, the gentle sensations in your nostrils or mouth, and how each breath creates a tiny motion everywhere in your body. Watch the impulse to breathe and the internal sensations. Enjoy the moments and, after some time, play with your breathing. How does pausing at some point feel? What parts of your body will speak up then? Simply notice and listen, then go back to playing.
The next part is a moving meditation. You will be noticing your body as it very slowly walks back and forth in a straight line. Ever so slowly, notice shifts in your weight. Notice all the movements in your body, from your breath to how your arms help you keep your balance. Notice the impulse to move and how it connects to your muscles. Again, play with your motion and notice the results.
Now, after this is done, evaluate yourself: did you immerse yourself and feel alive and in that state of play? Did you become somewhat childlike? Was there a joy in simply being alive? There is no “right” way to do this exercise, but these are signs that you are activating the energy of other centers. If you feel there is still more connection to be had, find some way to do things differently. There is always a way to turn a ‘chore’ of an exercise into a playful exploration.
Exercise 2: Emotional-Moving Center connections (group)
This exercise must be done in a group of at least 3 people, preferably 5 or more. Because Western society is primarily Intellectual centered, this exercise is extremely beneficial to most people. It also usually creates a good amount of laughter and fun.
It is something called “impulse passing”. It is to be done as quickly as possible, without pausing to stop for thought or to collect one’s self.
In this exercise, an impulse is simply an emotive sound and a movement. It can be any combination of the two. The sound should not be a word, but rather a sound with emotion attached such as “aiiigh!” or “blech” or “ooOoooo” or an animal-like sound. Again, it can be any sound you wish it to be so long as it is not a word. The impulse movement should ideally involve as much of the body as possible and be able to be performed in about a second. It could be making monkey faces, a mock punch, a wiggling of the feet or body, pulling one’s hair, etc. It should not touch others, but other than that, anything is allowed.
The group should arrange itself in a circle. The exercise is first done between adjacent people. An impulse is passed between individuals by one person showing an impulse, and the other person “receiving” it by repeating it. The receiver then creates a completely different impulse to the original person or the other person adjacent to them. Again, it should be done as quickly as possible. Usually when there is a pause it is a sign that another center is in operation. Emotional and moving centers react very quickly; there is no need for pauses here. (This does not mean people should not be cracking up with laughter, of course!)
It takes a little time for people to be comfortable with this, but is great as an introduction, to shift energy, or simply to allow more room for the Moving Center and Emotional Center.
After some understanding of the exercise is achieved, a slightly more advanced version involves passing multiple impulses in different directions around the circle. Care must be achieved to not lose impulses; it requires people to pay attention to the circle. If someone is “caught” with multiple impulses being passed to them, one “giver” will have to keep repeating the impulse until they know it is “received”. Still even more advanced variations involve passing across the circle by eye contact.
This is a wonderful exercise because when there is no pause between impulses, it is virtually assured the intellectual center is not engaged. It is also extremely playful and draws a group closer together.
Exercise 3: Moving / Emotional / Instinctive Center
This exercise can be done alone, but it is best done with a group of people doing the same exercise together.
In this exercise, you lie flat on a floor. It can be a carpeted floor or on a mat, but it should be comfortable and give you free range to move a little from side to side and not bump into people.
The instructions are to breathe, connect to your diaphragm, and express as sounds or movement. There is always something in your body to feel and/or express. Often this comes out simply as laughter. You do not require an intellectual understanding of what is going on. Allow things to come out either via motion (without getting up) or via sounds.
When you connect to your diaphragm, there is often laughter there. Allow this to come. It is easier to connect with it when surrounded by a group doing the same process and a “model” to look at. If the connection does not come at first, practise nudging it a bit by forcing a little laughter and seeing if it connects with something. Don’t force too hard; this is about connecting, not doing something the “right way”.
What can occur is an “ecstacy-agony” cycle, where laughter connects to sorrow/pain, which brings one back to laughter again. Doing this regularly can help bring non-attachment to emotional states: each state will always flow into another when nothing is resisted.
Again, this exercise is hard to describe without seeing a good example in front of you, but if you try doing it with at least one partner, it can lead to great discoveries.
This exercise is difficult for most people because there is an assumption that things need to be “there” in order to feel and express something. So laughing for “no reason” is considered impossible without faking it. However, there is no such thing as a void in the universe. What this means is that there is never a place with no emotion in your body. There is never a time that you are feeling nothing. You also have the power in your consciousness to shift your focus to different parts of your body and feel different emotions there. What most people describe as “feeling nothing” is either feeling a calm peace, or feeling a block of some sort, depending on the ‘heaviness’ of the ‘nothing’. This exercise can also bring up energies stored in the instinctive center, and so can be wonderful as part of a healing process.
These are some examples of exercises that are available. I haven’t listed intellectually centered exercises because most of them are well known. Psychological exercises tend to be about the Intellectual-Emotional connection, while formal dance, martial arts, and movement meditation tend to be about the Intellectual-Moving connection. It is very helpful to invent your own exercises, as this brings a sense of your own play and creativity to the process.
Balancing the centers and building up communication between all the centers in your body is a lifetime project, much like working on childhood issues and fears that block your perception. There is thus no “magic” fix to do it immediately. It takes patience and some discipline, but also a sense of play that is the primary way to be willing to move to completely different modes of perceptions and experiencing life.
Please feel free to suggest other exercises here!