Centered in Spirit
IHEAR A LOT ABOUT GETTING CENTERED from varied people. It’s usually a good thing! Psychologists say it; spiritual-but-not-religious people say it; dedicated people of faith say it—both Buddhists and Christians I know. They may pause in quiet, take a few deep breaths, and become calmer. They’re clearer in the moment, and more ready for the next thing.
Psychologists claim, “Being centered means that you have a reference point or a place to come back to when life’s challenges and emotions push you off balance.” So centering fosters resilience, integration, maybe even courage.
I’m intrigued by the inside story of getting “centered” in the Spirit for the same reasons: Integrating our daily lives and unique experiences in the Divine builds resilience. Centering our lives in God strengthens our capacity to “hear” the Spirit’s guidance, and to respond as the Spirit leads in Love. Do you long for more of that kind of spiritual centering?
A life centered in the Spirit has a completely different inner reference point than contemporary culture. Our sense of ourself and our efforts doesn’t need to circle around achievements, acquisitions, or others’ approval. We can break free of our many inadequacies and anxieties. Our hopes encompass resources far beyond us—for healing, reconciliation, and justice that restores abundant Life.
So, what happens when we recognize the Divine as our core “reference point”? We’re saying an inner “Yes!” We become willing to open all of our thoughts, emotions, motivations, sensibilities, plans, and the stories we tell ourselves—all of who we think we are—to the Holy, to God. What if we really want that kind of committed life? Not half way, but all in! I don’t mean withdrawing to a monastery; I don’t mean disconnecting from others, or giving up on efforts toward a better world. A life centered in the Spirit is tethered first to a Radiant Mystery, which reorients all of our ordinary experiences.
A fully committed spiritual life is more like a planet in secure orbit. When Western scientists first dared to say the Earth was not the center of the universe, they were discredited and vilified. It was a huge psychic shift. When we are wholly oriented to the source of Life and Love, a similar shift reorganizes everyday sensibilities and tasks.
What happens when “I” am no longer the Center of my own life?
The inside story of faith matters, and your intentions can be pivotal. “Intent” is actually one of the synonyms for “centering” in an online thesaurus. In the inner life, intentions are a kind of bridge between today’s experience and the fullness of what’s possible. Spiritual intentions are not passive. They are active like stretching a muscle. We can purposefully stretch time and resources to nurture the soul which animates us.
But so much more than spiritual “stretching” seems to be required of us these days! I think of exercise. Our culture recognizes need to exercise physical muscles. We can’t run or walk a 10K without some strengthening. What about our spiritual muscles? What if we bring the same intentionality to centering our lives in the Holy? Do you imagine faith as a stroll in the park or hiking the Pacific Crest Trail? Regardless, the Spirit can be present and empowering in each step.
We can return to intentions when we are overwhelmed, confused, angry, or afraid. Core intentions toward a life-centered in the Divine will orient us toward inner attentiveness, openness, trust, and letting go. The queries below are meant to help focus your unique intentions for centering your inner life in Holy Presence:
- How does prayer or spiritual practice help foster continual relationship with the Divine?
- What facets of your inner life are already integrated in the Spirit? Which need to be opened to encounter? Consider your thinking, emotions, self-image, sense of your body/health, your will, suffering, woundedness, ways you’ve hurt others, ways you defend yourself, or…
- How do you fully align your heart and perspective with the nature of the Divine—with God’s compassion, love, mercy, justice, etc?
- What helps to build confidence in or reliance on the Source of all Life?
- How do you let go of self-oriented desires for safety, approval, or control?
In October’s SEEDS, Intentions Part 2, I will explore how a Spirit-centered life prepares us to act in love, compassion, and fullness of joy. More queries will address spiritual intentions toward discernment and actions for social change through contemporary upheavals.
This fall, the Way of the Spirit program invites all into supportive spiritual community to help recognize and live each participant’s unique intentions for faith and faithfulness. Attend one of two online sessions on Intentions for a Committed Life, Saturday, October 15 or November 12, 9:30-11:30am Pacific Time [content repeats]. After attending online this fall, participants may continue into the year-long program, “Called to a Committed Life.” It regathers in a residential retreat January 13-15, 2023, in Union, WA. Details here.
Christine Hall has been a GOOD NEWS Associate since 2011. She founded and directs the Way of the Spirit program for spiritual learning and faithful action. Chris is a member of Whidbey Island Friends Meeting, Washington.