The Power of Presence
By Claudette Rowley
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I would like to share with you a powerful way of being that I've practiced over the past few months: being present in each moment. Being present means being aware or conscious of what's going on inside of you, and allowing it without judgment. This level of consciousness gives us full freedom to be who we are. It also brings a tremendous sense of inner peace.
How do you know when you're present?
You know you are present when you feel at ease with yourself. There's no underlying tension, your mind isn't chattering on in judgment of you or someone else. You are also present when you ALLOW a moment to be as it is. For example, you notice that you have a story in your mind about a situation. And you observe it as a story not as truth. Or you feel a negative emotion and you notice that without judging it. You stay in the moment of whatever you are feeling.
What stops us from being present?
Reviewing the past and projecting into the future. Many of us spend half of our time ruminating about the past and reliving our emotions about it. Then based on what we've experienced in the past, we project into the future about circumstances that may never occur. Our mind makes up fear-based stories that catapult out of the present and into a made-up future. In other words, we end up resisting the present moment in fear of what the future might bring.
Let me clarify: By future projections, I mean imagined scenarios that cause emotional strain, such as "What if this happens or that happens?" versus planning for the practical matters of life, such as scheduling your January vacation. Another way of thinking about this is psychological time which always causes fear or strain versus the time we keep by clock which we use to organize the practical matters of life.
What are avenues for being present?
Observe. When you notice that your mind has made up a story about the past or the future, simply observe it. Observation of the story will bring you right into the present. After a while, you'll start to notice that you are not your story, and that two separate entities exist: you in the present and your mind with its story.
Allow. Allow whatever is in the moment to be there. It is what it is. Once you begin observing and allowing, you'll notice how often you resist the moment you are in. That resistance keeps you in your head and out of the present.
Here's an example of the distinction between allowing and resisting. At times when my nine month old son is cranky and I'm frustrated, my natural reaction is resistance. In other words, I want the moment to be different than it is, which creates stress. Those times that I've allowed the situation to be what it is, I felt present and experienced peace.
Once I've become aware of my resistance to what's occurring - I'll often experience it as physical tension - I'll say to myself, I don't like this moment. Or I'm noticing that I feel frustrated and impatient. Simply observing and allowing what I experience brings a conscious level of awareness.
We each have an inner peace and freedom that already exists inside of us. Our job is to release the muck surrounding it, and reclaim as our own. Stay present by ALLOWING what's there to be there. Then you can accept it, change it or talk to someone about it. By spending so much time in the past and the future, we often resist the gem that's right in front of us.