Centering is an ancient visualization technique that is popular in Aikido -- the Japanese defensive martial art of "spiritual harmony." It teaches you to focus on the here and now, taking power away from outside concerns and negative thoughts, and helping you remain stable and grounded.
Aikido trains your mind to control your body's reactions using the concept of "ki." This holds that all physical and mental power comes from the flow of energy around your body. Energy is lost when you are tense or stressed, but Centering redirects negative energy in a beneficial way.
Think back to a time when you were feeling stressed or afraid. What physical reactions did you experience? Tense muscles, rapid breathing, sweating palms, and a racing heart are all common reactions to a stressful situation.
Now, imagine that all of these feelings are the result of energy flowing through your body. Centering uses your mind to redirect this energy to the center of your body, giving you a sense of inner calm.
The technique was adopted as a power-enhancing tool by sport psychologist Dr Robert Nideffer in the mid-1970s, and he outlined it in his 1992 book, "Psyched to Win." It was also championed by performance coach Dr Don Greene in his 2002 book, "Fight Your Fear and Win."
When Centering Is Useful
You can use Centering to improve your focus and manage stress before a speech, musical recital, exam, job interview, negotiation, or sporting event -- whenever you need to keep a clear head in difficult circumstances.
Centering can also be useful in more common situations. If you need to gather your thoughts before a difficult conversation, or if you have to deliver bad news, use Centering to channel your nerves so that you can communicate clearly, compassionately and effectively.