“Nothing is more precious than being in the present moment. Fully alive, fully aware.” – Thich Naht Hanh
What is Presence & how is it a gift? Well let’s begin by first taking a nice, slow, deep breath in…and out.
Now…as you begin to read this article, take note of how present you are in this moment and notice what that feeling is like.
What are some of the things you begin to notice? In other words, where does your attention go when you become aware of your presence here and now? Are you more aware of your body? Your breath? Your thoughts? What do you hear? What do you smell? What is capturing your attention in this moment here and now?
Most of us go through life never really knowing what it means to be fully present. Some of us can show up being fully present for others, but maybe not fully present for ourselves, and vice versa. Presence is a funny thing, because we are always present somewhere but that somewhere is not always here & now. I would call myself an expert daydreamer and can easily shift my attention and awareness to a galaxy that is far, far away while still being physically present here and now. It’s not always a safe and healthy practice, but I know that my mind is more than capable of going on quick excursions during the day.
So what is the big deal about being present, anyway? Is there some kind of benefit or gift that comes with practicing being present?
The answer is absolutely, YES.
You see, throughout the course of the day, our mind and our attention can easily shift away from a present moment and our focus then turns on what may or may not happen in the near or far future. When our focus and attention shifts further and further away from the present moment, we start having feelings associated with scattered energy that often resonate with anxiety, worry, or even frustration. If we aren’t careful and aware, then before we know it, we have spent most of our time during a day being in every other place besides the here and now.
This, my friends, is not sustainable and can create many harmful physical experiences in the body because we end up triggering fight-or-flight responses that can negatively impact things like our heart rate, blood pressure, digestion, immune system and more. It also takes away from what is potentially available for us if we could simply align our attention and focus with the present moment. There are always gifts available when we can take the time to look for them in the present moment.
Practicing presence throughout the day is not only a healthy practice for the mind, but for the body as well. Each time we bring our attention to the present moment, we create for ourselves the space and the place and the grace to just BE. We once again come to see, hear and feel what is available to us in the present moment. The more we learn how to become present, and the longer we can spend in that state of present awareness, the more energy becomes available to support what is needed at that time.
Being present is also a way to be in connection with ourselves in a way that invites feelings that help us feel grounded, centered, and supported. In other words, the gift of presence helps each of us navigate through with increased awareness of what is needed in the present moment that will in turn better support the future moment.
A few years ago, I remember being in training with my elder and we spent the entire weekend practicing being present in every moment. We were asked to become aware of the present moment often and notice what we noticed. This was the first time I ever remembered being so present that I could feel much more of what was happening within me and around me with gentle yet powerful clarity. Sure, there were times where my attention felt like it wanted to go off and run away, but I kept focusing on my intention and bringing attention to that intention with a nice deep breath, and then let go into the present moment.
This truly was and still is a gift that I get to experience every day in my life. Over the years, clients have asked me what is the one thing that you feel has helped you the most in your spiritual journey, and my answer is always about the gift of presence. It is a gift to me, and it is a gift to others. Being present with myself helps me to fully feel and understand where and how I am at all times. Being present with others helps me to fully feel and understand them so I can witness them as the gift that they are to me.
So, let’s do a quick check-in again…what are you noticing now within yourself as you are reading this article? What does it feel like in this moment, here and now, to be present? Are you here?
My prayer for you is that you take time each day to explore and connect with this gift called Presence and see for yourself what it can unlock in your life to help you feel more peace, clarity, and renewed vitality. The choice is yours. Choose wisely.