The Centering Wisdom Assessment (CWA) is based on the idea that as human beings each of us possesses an innate sense of wisdom, creativity, and integrity in the center of our being. The cognitive-emotional space that most fully facilitates access to this innate capacity is referred to as a person’s center or center of wisdom. However, we tend to lose touch with that innate wisdom when we become distracted or fragmented by our automatic responses to many of the typical stimuli that enter our field of awareness. (Think of our Pavlovian rush to the computer or smartphone when we hear the sound of an incoming text or email.)
The four-quadrant kite graph of the CWA provides a visual representation of the typical ways in which a person reacts cognitively and emotionally to cues in the environment. Cognitive reactions are displayed on the X-axis as the “Judging Mind” and include judgments of Pride or Shame. Emotional reactions are displayed on the Y-axis as “Desiring Mind” and include emotions of Avoidance or Rejection.*
The assessment provides individualized feedback on how a person tends to respond cognitively and emotionally to internal and external stimuli. As a tool for enhanced self-awareness it can help the participant to identify practices that facilitate movement toward his or her center of wisdom. The CWA has been used in university classrooms and workshops with professionals, and is currently undergoing an extensive process of professional review and statistical validation. (Some initial results of that study are available here.)
The validated and revised version of the CWA consists of twenty-seven question, which are then used to calculate an average score (on a scale of 1 to 5) in each of four categories representing four distinct aspects of mind or consciousness. In practical terms, the resulting kite graph helps participants to identify areas where they tend to get “hooked” into unskillful patterns of thinking, feeling, and behaving. It provides an individualized starting point from which to learn new habits – based upon mindfulness and contemplative practices – that facilitate healthier detachment and deeper cultivation of practical wisdom leading to more skillful choices and action.
In addition to the kite graph of these four aspects of awareness, one can also envision another dimension to awareness. That is, as one moves toward one’s center of being (and is therefore in a state of relative equanimity and interior freedom), one also begins to move both inward and downward toward one’s center. The graphic below can be imagined as if the CWA kite graph – which represents our surface level of awareness – were turned on its side, and you are looking at it from below. This begins to reveal the deeper levels of awareness.**
Contemplative practices help us to move toward the center of our being where the movement is both inward and downward toward the Source of Being Itself (toward God, or the Divine indwelling presence), where we also experience boundless compassionate love for all beings.