Presence Defined. . .

Woody Allen once famously said, “Ninety percent of life is just showing up.” He was right on levels large and small. I have heard countless adults eulogize their parents at funerals, saying, “My father never missed one of my games.” Many spoke glowingly of a parent who instilled values, passed along life lessons and were always there for them. So does your presence make a difference?

There is a belief across many cultures that a single visit to someone’s sickbed takes away a portion of their illness. The ancient sages understood that being present to another human being can lift a person up. Our presence makes a greater difference than we can often ever fully realize or imagine. When we focus on loving and serving our moments and others, we often exude peace, grace and joy; and our presence always makes a difference.

President Woodrow Wilson was sitting in a barber’s shop one day when a man entered and sat in the chair next to him. “Every word the man uttered…,” noted President Wilson, “showed a personal interest in the man who was serving him. And before I got through… I was aware that I had witnessed a gift we each possess but rarely tap into – our attention and love to the moment we are in and/or sharing.

So what does presence look and feel like?

It’s a shift in perspective from the experiential engagement and identification with thoughts imaginings and feelings, to the clear effortless awareness of being here and now. It is the cognizance that all conditions perceived are just content within the essential nature of unfettered awareness. It is a sense of being without the encumbrance of assumed identity. It requires nothing but your undistracted mind. Moment by moment.

The point is to experience presence directly, outside the concepts of mind. Thinking and analysis is not the path to experience presence – silence is. Look, listen, feel, but don’t think, don’t label, don’t compare or decide. Sit with a sense of open curiosity without specifics. In this mental stillness, sense your own being. Clarity grows in experience without thought or filters. You can’t figure this out in mind as mind takes you away from the presence you seek into more words and analysis. Taste an orange without calling it tart. Touch the desk in front of you to feel its texture while giving no thought to discription. Feel the sense of awareness with a quiet mind. All of these things are portals to a general sense of presence. In presence clarity of being returns. Warmth and tingley sensations, while enjoyable and sometimes indicative of alignment, can be just as distracting as any other sensations if one is going to analyze them and seek them out as proof of awakening. They are spontaneous, not created.

The book “Stillness Speaks” is well titled. Clarity thrives and grows in stillness. It’s the fertile ground from which insight flows. And while the word “clarity” is no more than a finger pointing to the moon, the reality to which it points is beautiful indeed. Mind is a valuable servant, but a blind master. It may put words to insight, but it can never be its source. Take a moment, be still…, and know the essence of that pretty word.

Peace and Love, Jim

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