Self-Care: How to Get Centered and Stay Centered

Environment is stronger than willpower.
— Paramahansa Yogananda

A successful, thriving, spiritually aware life is best supported by a healthy lifestyle that includes a wholesome diet, sufficient rest, regular exercise, daily meditation, loving relationships, and positive thinking. Caring for body, mind, and soul-life is essential. Without self-care, we are prone to experience the debilitating effects of stress and revert to old destructive habits that undermine our progress. The times we engage in thoughts or actions that aren’t useful are usually connected to being overstressed by poor nutrition, lack of exercise or sufficient rest, worry, or neglecting to meditate regularly or to spend time with nurturing relationships.

As Paramahansa Yogananda insightfully noted — environment is stronger than willpower. Established habits are readily triggered by our surroundings. This works in our favor if the environment is in alignment with our goals, and this works against us if the environment triggers old habits we are trying to change. If we’re tired, or otherwise off-balance, we’re more likely to respond to the environmental trigger, even if we had previously intended to behave differently. To stay the course of establishing new behaviors that are consistent with thriving, we must arrange an environment conducive to success and recognize self-care as essential, not a luxury.

Self-care Practice

Self-care helps us get centered and stay centered, supporting our resolve to make positive changes. Below is a formula I developed with the acronym CENTER, which stands for “consider, establish, nurture, think, enjoy, remember.” CENTER can be used to arrange conditions for success.


Clarity supports focus and intentional action. Begin by considering your overarching intention. What is your purpose? What will it serve? State your intention, then your goal or goals that support it. Write this down and keep it where you can see and refer to it regularly.


Envision your goal already accomplished. Feel or imagine the experience of succeeding. Let that feeling permeate your mind and body. We work on the subtle “blueprint” level of our goal when we do this. Then, do at least one thing every day that’s consistent with your vision and supportive of your success.


Identify any adjustments you will make that are supportive of your well-being. Keep it simple. Remember that too much stress combined with lack of self-care undermines the resolve to implement new, positive habits. Poor self-care is self-sabotage. Take charge by taking care.


Learning to cooperate with divine grace, following our wisdom-guided intuition, and remaining steadfast with new positive habits are skills we develop. It is a living, learning process. It takes time for something to manifest from the inner, subtle realms to the outer, physical realm. The time it takes is our learning curve, a period of transformation. We rise to meet our goal as our inner powers are unleashed. Success is a process, not an event. Hold positive thoughts about yourself as you grow and change.


Don’t put off joy, thinking of it as a result. Joy is a quality of the soul. When we’re in touch with that, we’re in touch with our soul nature. Pay attention to what brings you joy, peace, and contentment. Include that. Love yourself, love others, love your life along the way.


Achieving our goal doesn’t change what we are. We are already whole and complete. Nothing can take that away or improve upon it. Be anchored in your innate wholeness. That anchoring allows us to remain centered when powerful waves of change are moving through our life.

Consider. Establish. Nurture. Think. Enjoy. Remember.

Ask yourself the following questions each day as part of the CENTER formula checklist. Make any adjustments needed to stay on course.

C: Have I carefully considered my intention and clearly stated my goals?

E: Have I taken time today to adjust my mind and consciousness to be established in success?

N: Am I nurturing my body, mind, and soul by practicing good self-care?

T: Are my thoughts positive?

E: Am I enjoying life?

R: Do I remember my true nature?






jewel of abundanceExcerpted from the book The Jewel of Abundance: Finding Prosperity through the Ancient Wisdom of Yoga. Copyright ©2018 by Ellen Grace O’Brian. Printed with permission from New World Library —

Ellen Grace O’Brian is the author of The Jewel of Abundance and director of the Center for Spiritual Enlightenment in San Jose, CA. Ellen is a yogacharya (an esteemed yoga teacher), a radio host, and an award-winning poet who weaves poetry into her teachings on spiritual matters, pointing to the mystical experience beyond words and thought. Ordained by a direct disciple of Paramahansa Yogananda, she has been teaching Kriya Yoga philosophy and practice nationally and internationally for over four decades.


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