Meditation: Being Presence
Being “presence” can be described as sensing a deep connectedness and aliveness between yourself and life. When we are presence, we essentially step outside of identification with form (thought forms, emotional forms, or physical forms) and open ourselves up with a sense of awe to everything that is contained within this moment. When we regularly practice presence in our daily lives, we are better able to catch ourselves in moments of past conditioning. This allows us the opportunity to break the chain of reactive patterns of behavior that can be the source of so much suffering.
One way of practicing presence is to simply take in as many of the sensations available to you in this moment without interpreting or labeling them. As your senses perceive your surroundings, just allow them to “be” without any judgment or resistance. For instance, when you go outside: instead of thinking “Ah, the sun feels warm”, just become the warmth, or instead of “Wow, that breeze feels fantastic”, become transparent to it instead of allowing it to become a thought about how it feels on your skin.
Visually, we are often drawn to notice those things that are most obvious (bright, big, odd, whatever). When we find ourselves drawn to that obvious object, use that as a cue to practice being presence by shifting your attention to everything around that most obvious object. Sense how everything else in that space is allowing that more obvious object to be noticed, including the empty space between you and it. Or instead of looking at the flowering trees in Spring, notice instead the beauty of the still-bare trees nearby that allow the other trees to stand out.
Another way of practicing presence is to consider all the steps and people and processes that were necessary in the creation of this present moment. It is one way of being presence from the aspect of being “all of eternity” in this single moment, and bringing in as much of the entire process as you can that led up to that moment into that moment.
A personal example: As I ate a piece of homemade banana bread one day, I brought into my awareness as many of the elements as I could that went into making that one moment possible. I considered what it took to grow the bananas, including the people who were the first to discover and eat bananas. I brought into focus all that was involved in discovering, growing, harvesting, processing, packaging, delivering, and purchasing all the rest of the ingredients too, as well as everything within my own personal process of making it. I considered the very first person to put all these ingredients together, and my mother who made it for me, and my children who I am able to make it for. By tracing a moment back to the beginning of time, it lends a sensation of extreme and humbling significance to that moment, even if all you’re doing is simply eating a piece of banana bread.
Everything is important in this moment, and if we’re only paying attention to the flashy stuff, we are caught up in the content, and the more subtle clues to discovering our path can often get overlooked. By bringing in moments of presence in our daily lives, we create gaps in the otherwise incessant stream of thoughts that can consume us. From that platform, we are more open to seeing a situation for what it is rather than coloring it with hurts from the past or fears about the future. We sense our own aliveness and connectedness to life, and we are better able to act, instead of react, to the challenges that will inevitably arise in our day. In this way, we find peace and fulfillment in the only place it can ever be found: this present moment.