Our blogs exploring the quality of “presence”

presence

Each day we are faced with a cacophony of stimuli – visual, aural, olfactory – to which we sometimes respond positively, feeling energised and inspired, and at other times, seek to avoid in search of peace and quiet.

One of the challenges in our current times is the sheer level of ‘noise’ in our world – noise which constantly shouts out the problems, tragedies and horrors resulting from Humanity’s missteps due to a lack of awareness and love. This can have several effects on our ability to stay centred and present, and to take the steps that will enable us to address the cause underpinning the ‘noise’.

We may find ourselves struggling for any peace of mind, beset by the onslaught of the doom-laden world, or we may find that our ability to think clearly about how to effect change is impaired.

To stay centred and present of course we need to practise strengthening the contact with our own inner core and truth and we can then access a different level of sensing. A sensing that empowers us to listen, see and ‘smell’ beyond the cacophony. A sensing that enables us to see subtler world beyond the everyday realities. A world where consideration for others is at the forefront, where the light of love and beauty shines within and from each of us, where we see the energetic threads that link us and recognise that in fact, we are all connected – each to the other no matter what the apparent differences may be.

This isn’t a case of Pollyanna thinking. This subtler world exists today, and we can each experience it and live it right now, if we remain present and awake to the love within us. By practising being present in every moment and accessing love we can each become better parents, friends and leaders – more complete expressions of what it means to be human.

Lorraine Flower

presence

“As you become more present in your own life, you will begin to enlighten others by your example.”  Germany Kent

We can only truly listen if we are here, now.  Fully present in this moment.  No past butting in.  No future being imagined.  No pesky thoughts dragging our attention away from this moment.

And what are we listening to?  The beating of our heart, connecting with now.  The rise and fall, ebb and flow of our breath of life.  And to the others we’re with.  Attending fully to their thoughts, to their words, to the nuances in their energy.  To their heart.  Honouring and witnessing without judging. Cradling and holding.

Stilling ourselves into this moment enables a conversation that soars beyond the exchange of words, views, ideas and into the riches of connection, soul to soul, of interdependence and oneness.

And we see and feel the light of understanding spreading, encircling and filling the space.  We are fully here, experiencing the gift of presence for ourselves and the others we are with – a beautiful expression of unity.

Trudy Worth

presence

One of the aspects of the quality ‘presence’ is the ability to be able to be connected ‘within’ to a centre that is calm, expansive and subtle whilst remaining available to the more dense world of what we might describe as ‘normal daily living’. Bringing those two worlds together – the more subtle with the more dense is not an easy one. The ability to hold this place of what we might call ‘tension’ isn’t about tension at all…it’s entirely about beingness.

Whenever we meet someone who has developed real presence, we notice in them a stillness that isn’t about lack of action or sitting cross-legged on the meditation cushion. For sure that meditative quality is present providing a space within which all other ‘activity’ can be assimilated. The process of assimilation brings forward responses (both literal and activity related) that often feel very wise. Perhaps irritatingly so because presence isn’t large or grand or overbearing, it’s humble, deep and generous and can appear so effortless potentially giving rise to less lofty feelings of envy?

Effortless though it is not…it becomes so only after dedicated work and focus, as we work to truly get to know the subtle space, the expansive centre that in truth is our essence, our soul. And yet, even if our moments of presence are fleeting, the impact of it is so uplifting for us, and those around us, that surely it’s worth the hard work.

To be able to hold our active, practical, ‘daily living’ life in perfect balance with our inner life is a major step in being able to release all the qualities of our heart, our soul and our essence. And for sure our world needs those qualities now more than ever.

Lorraine Flower

presence

‘If you have pendulum clocks on the wall and start them all at different times, after a while the pendulums will all swing in synchronicity. The same thing happens with heart cells in a Petri dish: They start beating in rhythm even when they’re not touching one another.’  Bruce Lipton

Some years ago on retreat my fellow retreaters and I took part in a ‘drumming’ exercise – using large cushions and our shoes.  What started as a cacophony of random beating (of the ears as well as the cushions) morphed subtly, and over time, into an extraordinary rhythm.

You see we slowly shed our inhibited, self-conscious selves  and connected in an entirely different way, fully present, in the moment, creating a natural rhythm that was way beyond the day to day ‘skills’ or thinking of the people in the room.  From a disparate group we became a single, harmonious entity.

Everything in nature is connected into the natural rhythm of the system – the rising and falling of the sun, waxing and waning of the moon, the lifecycle of plants, the migration of geese, the hibernation of a whole host of animal species as the seasons flow and ebb.

As humans we’re part of the system and its natural rhythm too.  Yet too often the demands of life take us out of rhythm – whether that’s disharmony internally or with our external environment.

Finding our way back, staying connected takes patience and consistent practice through reflection, through meditation, through a stilling of the mind and reconnecting with the heart and the in and out of our life-sustaining breath.

When we’re in rhythm we are able to operate at a whole other level, listening and connecting through the heart, giving our full attention to the moment and open to insights coming in.  It is in this state that we can do our best work in service of others and the greater good.

Trudy Worth

presence

I was reflecting the other day on the qualities of my aunt who died recently. Amongst her many beautiful qualities was the quality of presence – true, meaningful presence. When she was with you she was really with you…even if she wasn’t saying very much – or perhaps especially then.

Presence is about so much more than stillness or inner calm although these are certainly significant. It’s a quality that conveys a deep level of connection with one’s higher self and also with the higher self of the other. The channel of communication that opens up in that higher connection has real meaning. It has a depth and value that extends beyond spoken word or thought and becomes a true expression of consciousness.

Presence for me starts with a deep sense of self connection where we dare to enter the silence and the space of nothingness in order to come to a greater place of self-acceptance.  The nothingness can feel scary, but the more we can dis-identify from the personality aspects of our self and hold ourselves with loving compassion, the more we will be able to access the higher self. And the more we do that the more we are available to connect with others at that level too.

The meaning that emerges is both in the moment and eternal – it speaks of a oneness that is beyond simple definition or description. It says ‘I see you’, ‘I am you’ ‘you are me’. It is imbued with a level of respectfulness, a dignity and a loving power that is all embracing.

Lorraine 

presence

What I’ve noticed about expressing the quality of presence to its fullest is that helps us do what’s needed rather than what’s wanted.  To make the distinction here, doing what’s wanted is, for me, attached to personal wants and desires – our own or those of others.  What’s needed is about addressing the situation, unattached to the personal.

At one level this gives a great deal of clarity about what to do, at another though it muddies the waters because it requires a whole other level of self-awareness and self-management to ensure that we’re doing the right thing for the right reasons i.e. our ego is in check and we’re not in the grip of hubris.

This goes to the qualities on which we need to draw to ensure that presence and our ensuing action – even if that is doing nothing – is pure, appropriate and makes an uplifting difference rather than damaging.

Chief among these is our heartful-ness.  Engaging and leading with our heart allows us to listen and see the situation from a more empathic and compassionate perspective.  It communicates to others our positive intention.  It assures the quality of that intention.  It provides the courage to act and supports the quality of how we do that.

My reflection on my own practice around presence reveals a scorecard that isn’t perfect – occasions where my wants got in the way with feedback not given, the challenging question that may have shifted the situation unasked.  And occasions where I have been fully present, where the question posed and perspective shared allowed some new light into the situation.  And what I particularly noticed is that when I was fully present it felt like a whole other me.

Trudy

presence

I choose the way that leads between the two great lines of force’

One of the things worth considering as we seek to achieve the inner quality of presence has to do with where our attention is focused. In the world as it is today it is so easy to become caught up in the drama of the global challenges we face drawing us to an outer place. They are of course significant issues and undoubtedly deserving of our attention. The question though is at what level of our attention?

To maintain the quality of centredness that conveys and underpins a high level of presence requires us to elevate our ‘thinking’ and attention to the highest possible level. By that I mean stepping back and connecting with a bigger perspective and holding a balanced focus. If for example, we picture in our minds a set of old fashioned weighing scales, we are called upon to be able to put equal weight in each side of the scale if we are to achieve balance.

So it is when we seek to take a higher, more balanced perspective. In any situation, no matter how challenging, if we objectively examine the factors that need to be considered and ensure we keep an equal weight on both sides of the consideration, we put ourselves in a position where our attention can naturally gravitate upwards to a higher point of synthesis.

Our ability to weigh all aspects of a situation and strive for a higher point of understanding enables us to hold a different point of balance. This in turn opens up a new level of access in our consciousness enabling our presence to grow. Instead of reacting from a place of fear or uncertainty we find ourselves navigating a strengthened pathway underpinned by a greater sense of understanding. This is far from easy and can also be likened to a tightrope walker using every muscle to hold a place of centredness and balance. In other words, choosing the way between two great lines of seemingly opposing force and releasing a greater energy of presence.

Lorraine

presence

The two-way gift of presence

One of the greatest gifts we can give others is to be fully present with them, wholly attentive and connected to and with them in each moment we are together.  Being fully present honours our interconnectedness and essential one-ness.

This gift for others is something we can give ourselves too if we remember, make the time and set our intention.  Being able to fully connect with oneself, to explore what’s going on, to see and listen with the heart rather than the mental ‘shoulds’ and ‘ought to’s’ brings alive our essential beingness.

And so I had the opportunity to remember this way of being with myself recently ‘thanks’ to my own inattentiveness to a situation and compounded by scattering my attention over too many things thereby losing my presence with myself.

I had made a mistake, failed to check a detail in a timely way (it was a small detail with a potentially big impact).  I moved swiftly into faulting (others) and fixing mode which involved making a dollop of assumptions.

When these came back to bite me I brought myself absolutely into presence in that moment and experienced with great clarity both the truth of the situation, and the grace to make apologies that were truly heartfelt and genuine.  These were delivered in full presence with the other, attracting graciousness in return.

Trudy

 

presence

“Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.” Buddha 

Being present in this moment isn’t easy in the noisy, distracting, busy world we occupy yet, as I think about it, it is the most efficient and perfect use of our energy, our capability.  The present moment is the only place I can be or have any control over. 

In the past couple of weeks I’ve been reminded of how powerful a force presence can be in our lives.   

A few days ago a family member asked for my help writing his mini biography for a company website.  ‘It’s not my thing and it’s needed tomorrow morning,’ he said.  I could feel the panic coming through the phone.  At the time I was driving home from the office knowing I had a number of other things to accomplish before sleep and an early start the next day.   

Arriving home I ignored the things winking for my attention – real or fabricated – and went straight to my computer.  From the first word I was connected with my subject, heartfully, and the words flowed.  Within 15 minutes the work was done…no fuss, no drama, no agonising over meaning and nuance, no sense of pressure (all often part of my process) yet the piece felt authentic…an accurate and warm reflection of the person and business-like but lighthearted brief. 

A stiffer test of my practise came in a day working with a group of very young people – late teens to early 20s.  We were exploring leadership. At a practical level there were the obvious differences such as language – is cool still cool in their world? – and cultural references to attend to, to ensure the learning could land.  Then there was the challenge of retaining engagement when attention spans were short. 

I found myself connecting at heart with the group – with their energy, with their playfulness and their hopes and concerns.  Being fully present, listening and seeing through the heart, helped me notice where people were feeling challenged or uncomfortable with themselves, with each other or the process and support them in finding a deeper understanding.  It helped me connect with the energy of the group and with the energies of the individuals within it so that I could adjust the sharp or soft of interactions. 

As I reflect on these two experiences I notice how powerful a quality presence is for self and for those around us and how its ongoing cultivation is so important.

Trudy