The Practice of Presence
You recognize it when you observe it or experience it. Almost indescribable in words, time slows, awareness heightens, all life-noise quiets and everything extraneous falls away as you are fully yanked into the exact moment of space and time.
Seemingly serendipitous or linked to life events that occur a handful of times during a lifetime, these moments stay with us long after they pass…
Because they offer proof to something we once had the courage to believe in, or they separate us from our own nonsense, borrowed beliefs and learned lies.
These connections to our own lives are catalysts to clarity, and if we allow the truth in them to penetrate deeply enough, we take action in ways we never had the courage or sight to before…
How does it work? It’s simple. Presence happens, when you are fully present.
You might argue, we can only be present… it’s not as if we can ever separate our minds from our bodies, or our bodies from the life that’s happening around us all the time.
And I’d actually agree with you, and then ask you a question… what are you present to?
A conversation you had 5 days or 5 years ago? The meeting you need to be at 69 minutes from now? A lie once told? A promise unfulfilled? The length of your to-do list? An illness or ache? A question of your legitimacy in the room? Your talent? Hunger? Fatigue? Anger? Fear?
Whatever you’re present to is what you’re in relationship with at any given moment. And I’d suggest that it’s all too rare that we are fully present to what and who is actually in the room… Here’s the thing. It’s not in the room unless someone brings it in the room.
It’s really difficult for things to change or for magic or chemistry to happen when the past or the future is taking precedence over the present. It’s also really hard to be fully attentive if you don’t feel good.
So how can you be fully present? Well, this is where practice comes in.
1.) Every day, value your health. Enjoy being in your skin. Make time for whatever it may be that connects you to your breath and your body, so you feel beautiful from the inside out. This is essential, not a luxury. Because if you’re not in your own joy to begin with, you’re bringing a whole load of things into the room that will end up being several panes of glass between you and the person(s) you’re trying to connect to.
2.) Slow down. Trust that you won’t get it all done, but the stuff you will get done will be worth doing because all of you showed up to be there.
3.) And beyond this… well, there are countless ways for you to create a practice, newly beginning each day. If you'd like to join us, check out these workshops:
Finding and Using Your Authentic Voice (Charlotte, NC Feb 4th (new!) OR Feb 5th (sold out))
You cannot control what others think of you, but you can be attentive to how your words, voice and body are telling the same story, so you have a better chance of being heard and understood. This workshop focuses on connecting you to your breath and body, so the fullness of your voice can come through.
A Third Space: the Power of Story (Taos, NM March 11-12th and Portland, OR March 25-26)
For Taos only, we’ve expanded this particular workshop to include what is covered in Finding and Using Your Authentic Voice, and partnered it with our concept of a third space. Being present with one another means you’re open to entirely un-knowable possibilities. In other words, it’s not about compromise or educating someone, but instead it’s about leaning in to an entirely unknown space that is created when all the people of the room feel equal and able to be heard. This workshop looks at how stories we have about ourselves and others either help create or diminish this space. This does include writing practices.
Writing in the Body (Portland, ME 8-10)
We carry our bodies with us everywhere we go, in everything we do. Access to your imagination is one thing, access to this while you are also in your body, fully present while you are writing… something entirely different. This workshop focuses on getting you unstuck, aiming your words out into the world, creating a sustainable practice for writing, and what it is to be fully present while doing this.
We encourage you to contact us with any questions or thoughts you might have!
Love to you!
If you’re looking for more to read on the topic of presence, actress and writer, Anna Deveare Smith wrote an incredibly useful book that touches on this – Letters to a Young Artist. And one of my most favorite reads on the power of quieting the mind is Pico Iyer’s The Art of Stillness.