What is Presence?
Presence for the purpose in which we are using it here is defined as the state or fact of existing, occurring or being present in a place or thing. Although, for some, it is existence, being, in attendance, making an appearance, in company or in companionship. It is important to keep in my that this defines only the outward appearance of presence and that it is the individual who chooses to be in that space.
The Inner Frontier describes presence on its website like this, “The very word itself evokes a depth and potency of character, a gravitas, a charisma based on inner substantiality rather than outward flash, a simple and quiet dignity”.
Understanding The Benefit of Presence
To truly live in joy, contentment and peace, one must be present. By practicing or choosing presence, we find ourselves experiencing life more fully, we may practice being in the moment and in the experience of what is happening right now and now and now versus replaying the past or worrying about the future. By practicing presence, we a participating in the moment, in life right now, being here no matter where we are, who we are with or what we are doing we are aware of what is going on right now in this very moment.
One of the distinctive qualities of presence is consciousness which we realize, as we start paying attention and observing, is often obscured by our thoughts, emotions, physical senses, sensations many of which distract us from this subtleness that observes all of this, the noticer of these things, the observer of all of this. Additionally, each of us ends up with a variety of filters and/or levels of conditioning. Many beliefs, perceptions, stances, mindsets and such have been inherited and carried from generation to generation or acquired sometime during or since childhood.
Once we start to pay attention and observe from behind the filters and/or conditioning, we notice there is something behind our actions, thoughts and beliefs that is watching or observing it all, ever so quietly, it just is. As we start noticing this “observer”, we realize how obscured it has been from the many distractions of our thoughts, senses and physical being including the beliefs and identity established throughout our time in this experience and body. As we get caught up in our worries, fears, anger and/or regrets, we are not being mindful of being in the now. It is a type of forgetfulness brought on by distractions from the past or future which are not the now, this moment, we forget to be here now, in the moment that really counts. As we practice living consciously, we find ourselves in more peace and happier but it takes practicing and experiencing to realize its wonderfulness which is our pure awareness.
The opposite of forgetfulness and all of the many distractions of thought and mind chatter is Mindfulness. The practice of being mindful helps us to recognize the joy already in us now by focusing ourselves into the space of now. Try stopping everything, all thought and doing. Start by closing your eyes and focusing on your breath, noticing it coming in through your nose and feeling it as it moves into your body and back out. This is a great practice to bring us into the now by stopping and taking a few moments or even a few seconds will help bring us into the moment, offering calming and more clarity. As we become aware like this, it reminds us that we are alive and this alone is an amazing source of happiness and joy which will come naturally as we practice.
During times of being mindful, stop talking, not just physically but with your mind, the talking inside and the thinking. Being is silence not only of speaking but of the mind. This is a very powerful type of silence that heals and nourishes us very deeply and elegantly.
Through practicing awareness, we can bring ourselves into the present moment, into the now. You may ask, how do we achieve this? We can start by noticing ourselves in continuous thought, doing, evaluating, planning, worrying and the like. We can then decide to notice, for instance, the thoughts allowing them to come and go but not engaging in the thought but choosing just to be. There are numerous ways to bring yourself into awareness like by putting their focus on the breath; watching something like a candle, pendulum, the leaves or grass movement from the breeze; listening to sounds like meditative music, the birds, ocean or a stream or keeping focus on one thing of choice for as long possible allowing the thoughts to come and go without engaging.
Try keeping focus on one thing by being aware of something such as a flower or a cloud and stay with it, giving it full attention for as long as you can. As you stay with this, you can achieve insight into the nature of things, people and yourself like feelings like fear, anger, joy, love or peace. Anything can be the choice of this energy of focus, this is an extremely powerful tool that can allow for breakthroughs, realizations, insight, liberation as well as true happiness and peace.
As we practice keeping our focus on something and the more we keep our concentration and contemplation of it, the more beauty of it is revealed to us. When we are present with it, say for instance, even while enjoying a lovely dessert or cup of tea, try noticing the aroma, the color, texture allowing yourself to slow down and savor every aspect of the experience of it, being in the moment rather than distracted by the mind or things going on around us, this experience will reveal amazing moments of simple joy, happiness and peacefulness.
Choose Ways to Practice Presence
Remember, this is not work and should not require effort to be in presence. It only requires noticing the moment. For instance, if there is a sunset happening, you would notice it, really be with it, not on the activities of the day or the past but right here noticing the beauty, the colors and transition of it, soaking in it and honoring the experience without other distractions, you just enjoy it. This is the same for breathing, soaking in a tub or swimming in the ocean or lake, spending time with others, driving, eating or anything.
We can practice presence during our normal everyday routine or set aside a bit of time each day. There are a variety of ways we can incorporate presence into our lives each day, here are just a few ideas to choose from and try, try out a few and find which ones work for you:
- Get Up Earlier. by getting up a half hour to an hour earlier in the morning can provide your time to gradually wake up, breath, walk outside, meditate without electronic devices, just to be.
- Take a Break. Take a break from work, chores or tasks. Taking walk allows time to observe changes around you, observe people, any newness around you whether it be flowers, temperature, construction or graffiti art. Notice what is.
- Choose to Eat Better. Be conscious of what you are putting in your body, quality is better than quantity. Eat real food.
- Breath. By stopping and focusing on the breath, we can easily bring ourselves into more presence. As you take your focus to your breath, notice your body breaths without your effort, notice the breath entering through your nose or mouth and feel in move through your body and back out, again and again. Notice the gap between each breath, the space of waiting for that next breath.
- Listen. Allow yourself to listen just to listen. Be with the sounds around you, not concerned with labeling or explaining, just notice and allow the sounds around you.
- Observe Your Thoughts. As we pay attention, we can become more and more aware of the background static of our thoughts and emotions. From this space we may witness thoughts of discontent, judgement, questioning and distrust amongst lots of distraction and a feeling of unease pressure to do, do do. This has often become the norm for many people and they don’t even notice it is there.
- Am I Here, In This Moment? When you are not in joy, stop and ask yourself, am I Here Now? The quote by Lao Tzu, states this nicely, “If you are depressed you are living in the past. If you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace you are living in the present.”
- Inner & Outer Focus. Pay attention to what you see around you now, then to what you hear. Then try closing of the sound and closing your eyes and turning the focus inward. With the focus inward, ask yourself the question, “who is it who is noticing what is around as well as inside”?
- Pay Attention to Your Mind. Notice what is going on in your mind, the chatter going on, the thoughts but do not engage or respond, only observe what the mind is doing, be the observer and ask yourself, “to whom is the chatter and the thoughts appearing?”
- Be in Silence. Sit quietly and notice the silence beyond the noisiness of the mind, focus on the space between the chatter and thoughts. As we practice this, we will notice the space between widening. Be patient, it may take longer for some to get to the silence than others. It is well worth it!
- Be in Stillness. Sit quietly and feel for the stillness behind the coming and going of the mind, behind the thoughts, feelings, sensations and business. Allow yourself to experience this deep stillness without engaging in the coming and going of the mind and chatter.
- Notice Spaciousness. Imagine your thoughts and feelings as the expansiveness of space. Notice the expansiveness of this space and notice it even wider sensing the infiniteness behind the thoughts and feelings that are part of the expansiveness of space where planets, galaxies and all that makes up our universe reside and move. Shift your attention from the thoughts and feelings moving through your consciousness to the vastness of space that contains them.
- Timelessness. Imagine there is no time, no next year, no next week, no tomorrow, no in an hour, no in a minute, no in a second, no plans or preparation, no schedule, nowhere to be, nothing else to come. Remove all elses and be in the now with nowhere else to be, no one else to be, nothing else to do be Be Here Now.
- Feeling Presence. Close your eyes and notice your physical presence, your bodily sensations, weight, breath and existence. Keep your attention to the feeling of your body just being here, right now, just being and doing nothing more. Allow yourself to be in the space of “I am”, “I exist”, just BE.
- True Self. From the time you were a child until now, there is a part of you who has always been there, non-changing and observing all that is around you and all that you do, think, speak and experience. Realize part of your being who observed all this experiencing the self that has remained even when all other aspects of you have changed (such as the body, thoughts, feelings, beliefs, situations, relationships) or are “past”. The True Self, is the part of our being that is always there unchanging even when every other part of our being is changing. It is the changeless, the infinite, pure awareness, self-awareness.
Video: Remain As You Are Guided Meditation with Mooji
“Remain as you are now. How can you not remain as you are? Only by touching the thought, ‘I am something else — I am this body, I am mind, I am thought, I am past, I am man or I am woman.’ All these are secondary to you, not original. Original is that you are Supreme Being. Be one with this. Be one with this.” ~Mooji
As we make the choice to be more aware and practice being in presence, we will find our inner self, the observer, becoming sharper, more alert allowing us to shift many of our perceptions, remove filters and old beliefs that no longer work for us, finding ourselves more at ease, in more peace and joy. This is a wonderful freedom we get to choose.
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