The Practice of Being Present
I have neglected this blog over the past few months as I focus on finishing and then making revisions to manuscript for my book Listen to Your Heart. We are currently in the final copy editing phase! I was also preparing a workshop which I presented at the Association for Comprehensive Energy Psychology (ACEP) conference in Reston, Virginia on May 31. The presentation was entitled The Heart of the Therapist: Integrating Presence and Intuition as Therapeutic Skills. This is closely related to the topic of my book, because the process involved in listening to your heart is a process that leads you to cultivate presence and intuition.
When we are present, fully present, in our bodies, in the moment, we are attuned to, in tune with, the emotions we feel, the physical feelings we feel, the thoughts in our minds, as well as with our environments and what is happening around us. We are aware of them and in tune with them, but not caught up and swept away by them. When you are swept away by thoughts, feelings, and reactions you are not in the present moment - and often, you are not even fully present in your body. Reacting to situations and to people is kind of like encountering a feeling and bouncing off of it, rather than being able to sit with it, tolerate it and contain it. In those moments, we are not fully present because our reaction is based, on some level, in fear. When there is no fear, there is no need to react. Even when our reactions feel angry or aggressive, even when they feel strong, they are based in fear, and in some perception of a threat that we need to react to. This perception is usually tied into old traumas, old hurts, patterns of experience that have imprinted us and that remain as highly sensitive "buttons" that can be pushed, or "open wounds" that are easily hurt.
So, being present is about learning how to, and practicing on a regular basis, being with ourselves, our feelings, and our thoughts without getting sucked into them, without buying into them; just allowing ourselves to experience what we experience, while recognizing that it is just an experience we are having. Over time, and with practice, you develop a detachment from these experiences so that you identify less and less with those feelings and reactions, and more and more with a sense of inner calm and stillness - the feeling associated with the aspect of you that is simply being with and witnessing these feelings and reactions. This allows you to be more and more present within your own body as you are less and less uncomfortable with the feelings that occur. As you become more present within situations while they are occurring, you find that you are reacting ("bouncing") less and less, able to stay with what is and able to recognize that you are fundamentally okay. This then allows you to be more and more present with other people and their own experiences, rather than reacting to your perception of how they are affecting you.
The more you practice this and the more you experience it, the more freedom you experience: the freedom to be yourself, the freedom to be more fully present, and the freedom from fear. You discover that you are safe, that things are generally okay, and that there is no need for anxiety (or worry, or anger). With presence comes openness, curiosity and creativity. The more you are present, the more your true creativity comes out, and the more you can truly enjoy life. The more you are present, the more you tap into your natural intuition.