The greatest gift we can give ourselves is presence. The greatest gift we can give others is our presence. What does it mean to be present? What is it like to have someone present among us? Why should I be present?
In writing this article on presence, I am doing everything but be present. I am being present making a smoothie. I am present feeding the dogs. I am presently going around the house with sage and chanting. Just so I can forget about writing this article. But presence isn’t a gift, nor a talent. It is a skill we practice over and over again.
Slowly incorporating it into the rest of our lives. Allowing ourselves to put down the phones, close the email, and be present with the work or people we have before us. This presence drives us to greater success. As men of knowledge, we become more aware of our surroundings. We are able to learn quicker when we are present, fully internalizing the experience before us.
How many clues have you missed in life, while you were thinking about your date later that night, or while on the date, thinking about what you had to do at work the next day? Did you miss the clue to lean in for the kiss? Did you miss out on the chance to take a new project at work because you were day dreaming?
Don’t let life pass you by, as you are thinking about life in the past or future.
As a father, what does it mean to be present? When playing with your kids, are you paying attention to what they say? They are sharing their world with you, letting you know how they see it and looking to you to answer the questions about the unknown. This is your opportunity to help shape the world, and have a real influence.
As a lover, what does it mean to be present? To listen without judgment, to truly hear your partner and how they are interpreting the world.
As a child, I can easily remember the interactions where my parents were present and the others where they were just going through the motions. This is understandable, they are adults, carrying the heavy weight of the world on their shoulders. They had to think about the roof over our heads, the food to put in our bellies, and of course their own happiness.
This I’m sure was exacerbated by the fact I came from a broken family, where my mom was just trying to take care of her son. But those rare moments, where she could be fully present with me, playing with toys on the floor, rough housing, or me showing off a song I learned in school. Those were my favorite, the ones that can be remembered late in life because they had an impact. I was heard, I was loved, someone was proud of me. The rest has been lost to the blur of time.
Isn’t that a beautiful gift to give someone? Isn’t it amazing you can give that to someone, make them feel like a human?
Presence is a practice though, not something that just happens. Like playing music with others, at first, you are trying to understand the chord progression, and thinking about what note comes next. But for music to truly communicate to the masses it must be done with feeling, with emotion, with presence.
If I am thinking about the note that comes next, I will not have the ability to truly feel and experience the note I am currently playing. I will not be able to properly project my emotion through the music. You can’t become a good musician doing this. It’s why the greats have played the same song over and over, committing it to muscle memory.
Then they can be fully present, instinctively knowing what comes next, but being agile enough to adapt to changes the other band members might make in the moment.Here their emotions speak through the music, getting deep into the bones of the audience, pulling them away from their cell phones, onto the dance-floor present in this moment.
Presence is the practice of remembering you don’t need to check your phone. You don’t need to answer that email right now, you don’t need to answer that call, you don’t need to answer that Snapchat, you don’t need to answer that text, you don’t need to answer that Farmville invite. Just be present with the people surrounding you.
What are they talking about? Can you inquire more about their life? People love talking about themselves. In doing so, you will learn more about them, and what makes them tick. If you’re lucky, you might even learn a little bit more about yourself.
Leave that phone alone, and keep on reading that awesome book in front of you. Fully immerse yourself into the world the author is creating, there you will understand the nuances of the story and the message being told. It’s hard to do this while stuck in traffic listening to an audio book at 2x ( Because 1x is just too slow for our busy worlds ). Give yourself the time and space to really sit down with a book and dive in.
Ignore that text that just came in, and keep doing yoga. Let the outside world melt away as you become present with yourself. Checking in with your body seeing how you feel. Check the mental weather report, any emotions need to be processed?
To be present in the world, we must first learn to be present with ourselves. What a great way to practice as well! You get to spend time with the one you love the most, yourself!
Presence is the best present we can give ourselves and others. It creates deeper relationships, a deeper understanding of ourselves and those we come in contact with. It is the gift of treating someone as human as if they matter in this world.
It is the gift of treating ourselves as humans and not robots just going through the motions. It is the joy of a quiet mind, not worrying about what happened yesterday, or what is going to happen tomorrow. The mind is just reveling in the present moment, the only moment that is real.
Even I am in a constant practice of presence. Writing this article I wanted to do anything but, even being present in those activities, so I wouldn’t think about this article. Finally, I gave myself the space to sit down, pull out the laptop and get to writing.
Being fully present while writing isn’t easy either. I constantly want to check FB or my email, so I can respond as quickly as possible to the many distractions this world throws at me. Presence requires discipline, but will also train you to be disciplined in other areas of life as well.
Presence is letting go of what you should do. It’s saying yes to the current moment, to the opportunities right before you. Your character will decide which direction you go. It will take you to the exact experiences you need to grow.
Presence is where you find yourself. Where you find what you are made of. It’s what allows us to fully be us. We aren’t thinking what others are thinking about, we are just being ourselves.
The great healers, leaders, gurus, and spiritual people were all well versed in being present. They knew that to be their best selves, they had to put 100% into tackling the current moment before them. Yesterday is old news for them, tomorrow isn’t news yet, the only news that matters is NOW.
I was tired of not being happy. I was sad & angry at what happened to me. I was anxious for the future. I wanted to be anywhere, but here.
Here is exactly where I had to be though. Here is the only place I would ever be. For here is now, here is the present. Once I realized this, I knew I needed to focus my mind on the only place it will ever reside. Right now. Being present with the current moment allows me to give and receive my gifts like never before.
When I stopped thinking about the past, I was free of the sadness, anger, and hate of what I perceived to have been done to me. Instead, I am happy that I have this moment to enjoy, I have survived the bad times, and I have this current moment to enjoy.
Realizing that the only place I will be is here & now, I stopped being anxious about the future. The meetings tomorrow, the date on Friday night. I will handle those as they come. Right now I’m just enjoying being here.