An Interval of Meditation: Centered Happiness

At last Anne was at home again, and happier than any one in that house could have conceived. All the surprise and suspense, and every other painful part of the morning dissipated by this conversation, she re-entered the house so happy as to be obliged to find an alloy in some momentary apprehensions of its being impossible to last. An interval of meditation, serious and grateful, was the best corrective of everything dangerous in such high-wrought felicity; and she went to her room, and grew steadfast and fearless in the thankfulness of her enjoyment.

~ From Persuasion, by Jane Austen

Have you ever been so happy you …

  • were afraid it wouldn’t last?
  • lost your equilibrium?
  • couldn’t stay present with it?

Such is Anne Elliot’s happiness at the end of Jane Austen’s Persuasion, that she engages in “an interval of meditation” as the best way to preserve and appreciate the feeling.

I write a lot about centering in conflict. Searching this phrase on my website turns up 112 results. And yet, what about being centered in happiness? I know what Anne means when she says:

An interval of meditation, serious and grateful, was the best corrective of everything dangerous in such high-wrought felicity;

High-wrought felicity — what a great phrase! — early 19th century, perhaps, but clear enough. Have you ever been so happy you lost it and:

  • became unbalanced?
  • missed the moment completely?
  • acted silly or hurtful to yourself or others?
  • ignored someone else’s feelings?
  • behaved disrespectfully or in ways that caused regret?
  • missed the moment completely?

Uncentered happiness can be as dangerous as uncentered conflict. We can lose our center as easily to happiness as to sadness, anger, or difficulty.

When I’m teaching Aikido on the mat, I often see the physical embodiment of one partner losing her center to another. Uke is the Japanese word for the partner who attacks and is thrown or pinned to the mat. Nage is the partner who defends by throwing or pinning. All Nage has to do is move off the line, enter, engage the attack energy and redirect it. In the process of moving and entering, I often see Nage give up her center to Uke by leaning in and losing her balance.

You can’t manage anyone else when you’re unbalanced yourself.

This is what happens when we give up our center to a person, a feeling, or a situation. We lose ourselves and become unbalanced. It happens so quickly, we don’t see it. I got so happy once that in shouting for joy I lost my voice.

Anne Elliot didn’t want to miss the moment, and she didn’t want to lose herself to it either. She wanted to be present with it in thankfulness. She wanted to enjoy it fearlessly. What a way Jane Austen had with words. These phrases embody centered happiness and give us a way to practice it.

Bring on your happiness today and be present with it.

Written by

Judy Ringer is the author of Turn Enemies Into Allies: The Art of Peace in the Workplace and Unlikely Teachers: Finding the Hidden Gifts in Daily Conflict.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store