You may at some point hear someone in the Pagan community -- or in a book, or on a website -- refer to the practice of centering. Much like grounding and shielding, in many traditions it's crucial that you learn to do this before you begin working magic. Why? Because it's the beginning of energy work, and if your tradition's magical practices are based upon the manipulation of energy, then you'll need to learn to center. If you've done any meditation before, it may be a bit easier for you to center, because it uses many of the same techniques. Here's how to get started.
First, find a place where you can work undisturbed. If you're at home, take the phone off the hook, lock the door, and turn off the television. You should try to do this in a seated position - and that's simply because some people fall asleep if they get too relaxed lying down! Once you're seated, take a deep breath, and exhale. Repeat this a few times, until you are breathing evenly and regularly. This will help you relax. Some people find that it's easier to regulate their breathing if they count, or if they chant a simple phrase, like "Ohm," as they inhale and exhale. The more often you do this, the easier it will become.
Once your breathing is regulated and even, it's time to begin visualizing energy. This may seem weird if you've never done it before. Rub the palms of your hands lightly together, as though you were trying to warm themâ¦ and then move them an inch or two apart. You should still feel a charge, a tingling sensation between your palms. That's energy. If you don't feel it at first, don't worry. Just try again. Eventually you'll start to notice that the space between your hands feels different. It's almost as though there's a bit of resistance pulsating there, if you gently bring them back together.
After you've mastered this, and can tell what energy actually feels like, you can start playing with it. This means you can focus on that area of resistance. Close your eyes, and feel it. Now, visualize that tingly area expanding and contracting, like a balloon. Try pulling your hands apart, and stretching that energy field out, as if you were pulling taffy with your fingers. Try visualizing the energy expanding to the point where it surrounds your entire body. After some practice, you'll even be able to fling it from one hand to the other, as if you were tossing a ball back and forth. Bring it into your body, and draw it inward, shaping a ball of energy inside yourself. It's important to note that this energy (in some traditions called an aura) is all around us at all times. You're not creating something new, but simply harnessing what's already there.
Each time you center, you'll repeat this process. Begin by regulating your breathing. Then focus on your energy. Eventually, you should be able to control it completely. The core of your energy can be wherever it feels most natural for you -- for most people, it's ideal to keep their energy centered around the solar plexus, although others find the heart chakra to be the place where they can focus on it best.
After you've been doing this for a while, it will become second nature. You'll be able to center anywhere, any time... sitting on a crowded bus, stuck in a boring meeting, or driving down the street (although for that one, you should keep your eyes open). By learning to center, you'll develop a foundation for energy work in a number of different magical traditions.