Awake in the World

Awake in the World

Centering for Sanity

Anchoring in one’s Self during the storms and trials is a way to stay centered during the rush of the day. In Native American traditions, the circle is a powerful symbol of wholeness. The Plains Indians used medicine wheels made of stones laid out on the earth as ways to connect with the sacred in the cosmos both within and without. The best known is the Bighorn Medicine Wheel on Medicine Mountain in Wyoming used by the Northern Arapaho and other tribes including Cheyenne, Crow and Shoshone. They’re probably called wheels because of their shape. Stones are located in the center with a series of spokes moving out from the center.


Today medicine wheels are sometimes used by Native American counselors as a way to bring balance and centering. One elder suggests that people draw a wheel with a central point on paper and divide it into four equal parts. He advises people to designate an area for Emotional, Physical, Spiritual and Mental life. In each area he suggests that people contemplate where they are and how they feel about each aspect of their lives. The aim is to achieve balance. “Standing in the center is the most powerful place,” he says. In the center one is anchored and perfectly balanced between all of the areas of one’s life. Being well centered means that when trials occur and problems arise, we can still maintain a sense of peace and not be thrown off or dragged down.


Labyrinths offer a similar sense of centering. Once after walking a labyrinth in a quiet park I awoke at three a.m. with the image of the center of the labyrinth. That was all, just the small, circular area where I stood at peace and unmoving in the heart of it after winding in and out. The center represented a place of stillness and unity. My mind remained quiet and unattached to anything just for that moment.

Take a moment to focus on this center. People will try to provoke and tempt. By staying in the center it’s easier to make decisions that reflect your deepest aims and align with your Higher Self. What would your medicine wheel look like? If you contemplate yourself as a whole, what would you wish to add or remove for better balance? Throughout the day reflect on the center. Find an image that reminds you of this and come back to it often. Reflect on what it means for you to be centered and how you can stay in this place today.


Bio: Debra Moffitt is author of Awake in the World: 108 Practices to Live a Divinely Inspired Life (Llewellyn Worldwide, 2011). She is devoted to nurturing the spiritual in everyday life.  Debra leads workshops on spiritual practices at the Sophia Institute and other venues in the U.S. and Europe. Her mind/body/spirit articles, essays and stories appear in publications around the world and were broadcast by BBC World Services Radio. Find out more at: and

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