self care Jan 13, 2021

Centering Meditation Exercises For Stress Management

Everyone knows life can get hard at times, and for some, those times can turn into years.

Our mental health can be fragile if not tended to, and different degrees of depression makes it hard to realize when there’s a problem.

Massage therapists, no doubt, have had an introduction to finding your center somewhere in their training. Massage work is best delivered when the massage therapist is centered on the client.

These centering techniques can be used in various life circumstances, from workplace stress to dealing with some of life’s biggest struggles.

Here are simple, applicable strategies to help feel centered and can also be used for centering meditation. These centering exercises can calm down, lessen anxiety, ease worry, and reduce stress.

The Three-Count Breath

One way to help the body relax and reduce stress is to steady your breath.

Begin here: Inhale for three counts. Hold for three counts. Exhale for three counts.

After a few rounds of that, attempt to prolong the counts so that your breathing can slow and return to normal, this process can be helpful in less than a minute.

Continue the rounds until your anxiety eases; you feel a sense of calm or reach a state of meditation.

Stop Sign Visualization

Sometimes there can be negative, looping thoughts that are spiraling out of control in your mind. They don’t serve you. There’s no time to listen to them, anyway: You have more important things to do!

This centering exercise is good to reset the mind away from pessimism and towards positive thinking. 

To move forward without letting your thoughts drag you down, try this:

For each self-defeating thought that pops up (“I’ll never get it all done!” and so on), visualize a large, red stop sign in your mind and think, “Stop.”

Try to drop the rest of the thought. This takes practice because those thoughts have a lot of “power,” and that’s why they need a “Stop Sign.” Use it liberally. 

After you acknowledge the thought, see the stop sign, take a breathe and let that thought go.

This exercise will have your negative self-talk taking a back seat to your newly centered self.  

Mantra/Affirmation.  Use to center yourself.

Used alone or in conjunction with the Stop Sign Visualization, a simple mantra can be an effective tool and wonderful centering meditation.

Consider a few affirming phrases to repeat during challenging days or moments of anxiety, panic, or despair to center yourself with a mantra.

It should be something that rings true to you and can reassure you. For example, “I can manage,” “This will pass,” “There is no emergency,” or “It will all get done.”

Experiment with the right mantra for yourself, and repeat it often. 

"5-5-5" Centering Exercises

This technique is often recommended for people in dissociative episodes but is useful and applicable during everyday stress. The purpose is to generate awareness of your sensory experience to feel more grounded in your body.

It’s very simple. Name the things you are experiencing for each of the senses:

Identify five things you can see, five things you can feel, five things you can hear, and five things you can smell.

For taste, a sip of cold water is often enough to bring awareness to the body.

Addressing these five senses is a sure way to center yourself and feel calmer.

Core Rooting

Centering Meditation.  To begin:

Stand with your feet wider than hip-width apart. Think, in your mind’s eye, your body is a tree, with your torso representing the trunk and your feet representing the roots.

Bring your attention to your core and scan down your legs until you reach your feet.

Notice the ground beneath your feet. Feel the strength of your body. You are not “scattered” anymore. You are right here. 


When you can center yourself in times of distress, you will find that you work more efficiently, relate to others more easily, and feel an improvement in your physical health. Each of the above techniques can be used anywhere and anytime, in just a minute or two.

Experiment with one or all and see what feels right for you.

Life can get hectic, but these simple tools can bring you back to center so that you can enjoy it more fully.

Until next time

Be fit, be strong, practice centering exercises when life gets hard,

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