Awareness Part 4, Presence

Let’s try something.

If you will, take a breath in, then release it.

What did you notice in the space between the breath in and its release?

Probably nothing, right?

That simple exercise is a metaphor for life. The future slips so quickly into the past, we fail to notice the present moment! “Life is what happens while we’re busy doing other things” (John Lennon).

Presence is the act of bringing one’s complete awareness to the fleeting moment. It’s not something we are accustomed to doing.

Presence has many names. “Mindfulness” is currently popular. The practice of bringing awareness to the present moment has been around for thousands of years. It has roots in both secular and religious traditions and is extremely powerful.

Life is relationships; biological, social, and psychological to name a few. Those relationships are experienced moment by moment in the present. Afterwards, they may be remembered, but they can only be directly experienced now and now and now.

The present moment is timeless. Unless we are under direct physical duress, anxiety and stress originate from concerns regarding the past or worries about the future. These vanish in the present moment, which does not contain the past or future.

Presence is not a philosophical nuance, but a context for awareness. It is readily available to us all.

Major medical schools and peer reviewed scientific studies verify the benefits of regularly bringing awareness to Presence. Specific techniques to accomplish this are easily found on the internet or Amazon bookstore.

However, there is no free lunch. Presence requires practice. Fortunately, benefits come from practice vs accomplishment. I’ll relay a couple of examples from my life and then leave it to you to pursue, if interested.

I am a so-called Type A person; task-driven, high strung and easily irritated. (not very endearing qualities). Prior to retirement, I had an important early morning meeting with our CEO. It’s twelve minutes from home to work, so I left twenty minutes early to be sure I was on time. When I turned on to the highway, traffic was totally stopped. I would be late! Normally I would have freaked out, but I had just completed a mindfulness practice. Inexplicably, rather than anger, my very first thought was, “Oh no, an accident. I hope no one is hurt”.

Presence, took me out of “Self” bringing greater awareness of relationships. This awareness remained after the practice, triggering the uncharacteristic reaction.

There is incredible peace in the present moment, where we escape the burden of time.

I was terrified the night before my quadruple bypass surgery. I couldn’t sleep, so I brought my complete attention to Presence. The future vanished, fear dissipated, and I got a good night’s rest.

This is the power of a practiced Presence.

Key Principle: Discovering the role awareness plays in life
Key Question: How would life change if stress and anxiety could be routinely dissipated?

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