Centered Mindfulness

About 15 years ago, I was headed to a life-changing event and was extremely anxious and nervous. I knew I had to be at peak-performance, and I turned to friends who were older and more experienced than me, for advice. One particular friend introduced me to a mindfulness/meditative practice that has been literally life-changing. I don’t think there’s a term for it, although it seems similar to the idea of a personal mantra. For the purposes of sharing the idea with others, let’s just call it a “Centering Word”.

The idea behind the Centering Word is to find a term, concept, or idea that will trigger you to feel grounded, calm, and in control. It’s a word that indicates peace and tranquility. Like an “on-off” button, it’s your go-to term to immediately feel more balanced and …centered. You’ll slow down your thinking, your heart rate, your breathing when you hear it. You’ll feel cooler and may even have a smile cross your lips when you think of it. It could be a keyword based on a memory of when you felt comfortable and calm, like “beach”. Or it could be the name of someone you love (or even lost), like “my dad”. For me, the Centering Word is “release”.

As I prepared for my big event, I practiced repeating the word “release” repeatedly throughout my day. I made sure that I associated “release” with allowing myself to just relax into the here-and-now. I would hear it and remember to focus on my breath and ease any tension I was feeling. It helped me feel present, aware, and with inner peace.

To this day, I use my Centering Word when I feel myself tensing up, feeling defensive or threatened, or when I’m agitated. Usually, I envision the word “release” in my head and take a deep breath and literally release all of my tensions, together with my breath. I feel increased calm and serenity and allow whatever is going on to occur with less judgment and more acceptance.

How about YOU? Do you have a word, an idea, a place or person that you associate with tranquility and centeredness? If not, what are you waiting for?! Find your word and you will find more space in your life for forgiveness and inner-calm. You’ll feel more whole and content. I’d love to hear your Centering Words and how they’ve helped you – feel free to share with me at: [email protected]

Kira Nurieli is a certified mediator, conflict coach, workshop facilitator and consultant. She helps clients create breakthroughs in their workplace, classroom, family, and community dynamics.


  1. I’ve studied the energy principles and practices of aikido for 40 years. My teacher,, an 8th dan master and pioneer in the field of consciousness, would use certain words as we practiced. . For example, when we practiced grounding , he would use the word settle. When big waves of energy would come through our mind/body/ .energy field . he would say Easy.. After a while the word does trigger the experience.. It does take practice though to shift particularly in high pressured situations. As Bruce Lee said. “When under duress we do not rise to our expectations but fall to our level of training..”That’s why I liked aikido – you practiced in a high pressured situations. I use these principles in the mindfulness-in-action training I teach. Once people learn how to center/ground and maintain an outflow of energy, I have them practice under increasing levels of pressure..

    • admin

      Aimee I love your analogy with Aikido to illustrate the idea of a “Centering Word”. In your example, sounds like there are different words to trigger responses to different contexts, and I think that can be hugely helpful! I also appreciate that quote from Bruce Lee.

      Thanks for sharing!

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