P is for Presence

When you are here, you are here.

When you are gone, you are gone.

It isn’t a problem to be gone, so long as you are really here when you’re here

-.Excerpt from Neither Wolf Nor Dog by Kent Nerburn




Presence may be the difference between anger and understanding, between haste and peace, irrationality and compassion. When I am not fully present I may not be actively listening to my partner when he is sharing something meaningful or remedial with me. Which then snowballs to misunderstanding, and in turn may become actions and words that are not in line with my true intentions. Remembering to stay present in all situations takes constant dedication. I’ve been known to write the word ‘Breathe’ on my hand or wrist as a simple reminder. I remember my mom trying to get me not to draw on myself for many years, sorry mom! Something that helps me stay present is slow breaths and asking my self simple questions such as: Is this who I want to be? Is that what I truly feel? Am I understanding this situation for what it is and from many angles? What is my heart trying to feel and communicate? Any one of those have the power to alter my state of mind more often than not. Sometimes we get ahead of ourselves and we allow our emotions to bubble and burst exploding at the seems. There are times we will “see red” or act in anger or frustrations, we all will falter in our communication at times. Often, when I’m in front of a screen I tend to zone out and not hear or see the world around me. Maybe I need some time to zone out but often it goes on for too long.

How many times have you been talking to someone and they are busy with their phone? Who even knows what they’re doing, right? Texting? Checking Facebook,  Instagram or Reddit? Looking up how to make coconut butter? And tell me, it feels good to be ignored right? Wrong. I have made some challenging changes to my daily life to insure that I am in touch with reality. For us, cutting the cable from the tv helped me regain hours back into my life. Eventually we got rid of our TV to see how it would go, it’s been a year and we’re doing fine! We recently even went as far as shutting off our internet as a trial run. I’m not sure that one will last long but it’s definitely been effective in showing us our dependence on the web. It hasn’t been easy and I struggle so much with this very topic of presence. However, I have loved the opportunities that have presented themselves to me in the space that I have allowed. Chances to connect with my partner, or a friend, chances to admire the sunset or truly appreciate a meal.

If you struggle with day-to-day presence I would encourage you to try out meditation. There is no wrong way to meditate and there are many methods and approaches. Sometimes the point is to clear the mind and just be. Sometimes it’s to process or acknowledge certain thoughts, issues or situations you have floating around in your noggin. And other times it may be focused around relaxing your body and rejuvenating your spirit or energy. If you need an idea here’s a start:

Choose a room that is as silent as possible. I live in a busy apartment complex so I understand if this is a challenge (Don’t give up!). Close the door if you have pets or people that will distract and interrupt. You may choose some relaxing ambient music or sounds to assist. This is optional. Maybe light a candle or some incense. Sit in a comfortable position. I like to sit cross legged on a small pillow under my pelvis, or you could try a chair. Try to sit up straight but not rigid with your chin slightly down. Let your hands rest in your lap with palms facing upwards, left over right. Or you may choose hands relaxed on knees palms up again or index and thumb touching. If you are in a chair try crossing your ankles under the chair, this will allow your lower back and hips to relax and have an easier time. You may even consider laying in corpse pose (laying on your back with legs slightly open and arms by your side). I find corpse pose helpful for relaxing my whole body, especially when my back or shoulders are tight. Close your eyes. Take a deep, slow breath through your nose. Pay attention to your body and slowly relax what you can. You may start at your head and neck moving downwards. Adjust body parts that seem uncomfortable. When you are done with this body scan and making necessary tweaks, continue relaxed breathing. In your imagination, picture yourself at the bottom of a lake. (If you have a fear of water of drowning you may go with another imagery approach.) You are peacefully observing this empty lake and it’s wonderful deep blue color. As a thought comes to mind, for example: “I forgot to water the plants” or “I’m feeling stressed from my work today”, imagine that these thoughts are single, isolated bubbles. They come from your mind and float slowly up to the surface. Simply observe them. And slowly (maybe 5-7 seconds) let them go out of site to the surface of the lake, and out of mind. If more come, allow them to come and then let them go.

This imagery is called the Bubble Method or the Lake Method.

Try starting with a 5-10 minute meditation. If that seems doable try upping your time to 10-20 minutes. There are also plenty of meditation podcasts, cds, and youtube videos that can help with a guided meditation for those who want some support and focus. No matter which approach you choose, just remember it is meant to be custom to you. If one method isn’t working after you’ve attempted a few sessions, try a different method. As soon as the first session you may feel the results and notice a more peaceful mindset a calmed heart and maybe even a thought of “Hey I can totally get a handle on the day!” Meditation has helped me by allowing myself to get in the zone and let go of my running dialogue in my head. My day goes better, my mind and heart stay more relaxed and in tune with each other, and I feel better equipped to handle any situation.

Go in peace friend, remember to breathe.