If you feel like Mrs. Doughnut from the photo below when you sit for meditation in class and hear this instruction, then this post is for you. Here's my take on finding the center.
For me, finding the center means finding the point in your mind from where you can observe what is happening inside you and around you, with clarity and without judgment – accepting things as they are and remaining undisturbed.
Contrary to the wide-spread belief, meditation doesn’t necessarily have to be about emptying your mind, as this state is pretty much unattainable for most of us. Instead of fighting with your mind, trying to silence it, think of it as of a busy road. So, sit on the side of that big road. Cars, bicycles, trucks, buses are rushing past you. These vehicles are your thoughts. They are all going somewhere, although most of them are just driving around in circles, but you don’t have to take a ride with any of them. Instead, remain peacefully sitting on the side of the road and observe the traffic of your thoughts without trying to suppress it, because you will never succeed. The harder you try to stop the traffic, the more congested it gets. So, let it flow. You are sitting on a nice green grass patch soaking up the sun. What business do you have with the traffic? Enjoy your grass and let it all pass.
The second metaphor is inspired by an amazing talk by Wayne Dyer I saw recently.
Think about a clay pot. What makes it a pot? Clay? Varnish? Weight? Shape? Yes, all of those things. But if you break the pot, all of those elements will still be there more or less unchanged: chemical profile of clay, the color of the varnish, the weight of the collected pieces will all remain pretty much as they were. Nobody would call those scattered pieces a pot, though. Dr. Dyer makes a point that actually what makes a pot a pot is the empty space inside! This is what defines its purpose. The unchangeable emptiness in the center around which all the other aspects gather.
Thinking in terms of applying this realization to meditation practice, to find your center is to find the empty constant inside you which is not defined by your gender, looks, likes, dislikes, actions, abilities, or any of your physical or mental features, but still it is this emptiness that somehow holds all of it together, making you - you.
So, in the end, Mrs. Doughnut was actually doing amazing in that meditation class!