Presence- Showing up moment to moment as your authentic self and being totally comfortable and alive in this space. This is where you will attract all resources needed to accomplish your intentions/goals. By being present, you will have the capacity to respond rather than react, making choices and decisions aligned with your purpose. You will also create the environment for others to join you in this space.
This component of my formula as really taken on a new and evolving meaning as I have taken the deeper dive into mindfulness and my mindfulness practice over the last 8 years. I am even on my way to becoming certified as a mindful self-compassion teacher. I often will introduce myself as a mindful coach because it applies to any audience/client that I am working with. I really feel it is the foundation for true fulfillment and success.
Presence combines the power of mindfulness to get in touch with my gremlins in the moment and then replacing the typical responses with healthier mantras that get the types of results that one desires. What a game-changer! Now, do I always succeed – absolutely not but the magic of the self-compassion part is letting yourself off of the hook and giving yourself encouragement to do better next time.
Presence and Mindfulness also goes hand-in-hand to better assess what is happening inside of us that will ultimately impact how we show up.
Think of someone you believe demonstrates presence. What are the qualities, behaviors and how do you feel when you are in their presence?
I was very fortunate to have experienced this during different points in my career and life. Here is what I found as the common characteristics:
1. Make you feel like you are the only person in the room.
2. Practice deep listening.
3. Foster meaningful connections.
4. Create a space of non-judgement and making others feel heard and valued.
5. Are able to pull together and synthesize seemingly disparate pieces of information and articulate the themes and patterns for reflection.
6. Can move others to action in a way that is motivating and inspiring.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is focused attention on something/someone without judgment – noticing everything happening outside and inside of yourself. Wayne Dyer discussed the various levels of mindfulness. You as the one experiencing the moment, you as the observer noticing what is happening, you the one who will choose from moment to moment what you will do with this information and how you will respond.
A key phrase for me is “without judgment” – as discussed in Episode 2, a really tough one. I learned the following phrase in my coaching training that ties it all together for me:
“Our Level of True Awareness is Directly Related to our Lack of Judging” – let me repeat that
As mentioned earlier, true presence goes hand-in-hand with awareness which requires us to suspend all judgment. What a great world this would be!
Back in Episode 2, I covered the Judger v. Learner model and characteristics as outlined by Dr. Marilee Adams – what is this moment teaching me?
Jon Kabat Zinn – recognized as the pioneer for bringing mindfulness to the Western World – he worked with cancer patients by teaching them mindfulness practices to help deal with their disease and had great success even when told by his hospital leadership that this would never work nor providing any funding.
He holds a retreat for CEOs that has a waiting list a mile long – he begins every retreat with 15 minutes of just sitting. What invariably happens is that the CEOs become emotional even to the point of tears and when asked why they were having this reaction, the common theme is that this is the first time in a long time that no one was requiring anything of them. What a great lesson for all of us as we all (me included) attempt to fill up every waking hour with some sort of activity.
Being mindful ourselves while creating this space for others can be a Healing presence. You may have heard of the artist, Marina Abramovic who is known for pushing past perceived limits of the body and mind, and exploring the complex relationship between artist and audience, through performances that challenge both herself and, in many instances, participants emotionally, intellectually, and physically. The concepts inspiring her works are key, as is the use of her own body to convey her ideas.
In 2010 at MoMA, Abramović engaged in an extended performance called, The Artist Is Present. The work was inspired by her belief that stretching the length of a performance beyond expectations serves to alter our perception of time and foster a deeper engagement in the experience. Seated silently at a wooden table across from an empty chair, she waited as people took turns sitting in the chair and locking eyes with her. Over the course of nearly three months, for eight hours a day, she met the gaze of 1,000 strangers, many of whom were moved to tears.
One visitor described sitting with Marina Abramović as “a transforming experience—it’s luminous, it’s uplifting, it has many layers, but it always comes back to being present, breathing, maintaining eye contact. It’s an amazing journey to be able to experience and participate in the piece.” He was so taken with it, in fact, that he returned to sit with the artist 21 times!
Talk about healing presence!
After all of my trips around the sun, I am still left with that the only thing required of all living things is gift of our presence. That’s a tough concept when you feel like you have to constantly get ahead, make more money, climb the corporate ladder, have our kids involved in every activity possible so they can build up their resume for college – I know I have certainly been guilty of this at various points in my life – very human and natural response – I would contend that we can still accomplish all of these endeavors when we prioritize our presence – to ourselves and those we live for, care for, work with. I will never forget my year without social media (which I probably should do again). At first, I found that I was conditioned that the moment that I had a free second, I was reach for my phone and pressing that app on my phone. After that initial shock to my system, I found myself slowing down in all aspects and noticing who and what was around me and engaging for longer periods of time. The connections that I felt strengthened and deepened. I told one workshop participant about my endeavor; he immediately deleted his apps and later reported many life changing moments for that time period.
To help with our quest for presence and mindfulness, we will need to do some re-training. I then coach my clients to strengthen their concentration muscle.
This next part comes from mindfulness.com which I referenced in last week’s podcast.
One of the hallmarks of modern life is the proliferation of distractions. As media become more pervasive, and media connections more ubiquitous, time away from distractions becomes ever harder to find. Previously, people were content to sit in restaurants, or stand in line, without a television screen to stare at. Now these have become standard. The result of all this, and many other causes, is that people find it increasingly difficult to focus their minds.
Concentration is a necessary human skill. It makes proper thinking possible, increases intelligence, and allows a person to calm down and achieve their goals more effectively. A concentrated mind is like a laser beam, able to use all its powers in a single direction to great effect.
Concentration is critical to many human endeavors. Being able to listen to another person, for example, in a compassionate and connected manner requires being able to shut out distractions. The experience of making love can be greatly enhanced when one is not, for example, thinking about other things.
Concentration allows a person to stop being a “reaction machine” or “robot,” simply responding to stimuli, and instead to become more thoughtful, self-directed, and confident.
Think about one thing. Every time you get distracted, return to that one thing.
1. Find an object on which to concentrate. This can be a physical object, like a pebble or a feather. Or it can be a mental object like a particular idea. It could even be, say, your homework.
2. Cut off any sources of distraction. These include, but are not limited to, telephones, emails, computers, music, television, and so forth. Turn all of these off during your concentration practice.
3. Begin your period of concentration by mentally reminding yourself what you are concentrating on.
4. Now begin to concentrate. If your concentration object is an external object, this may mean looking at it. If it is a mental object, then think about it. If it is your homework, then do it now.
5. Each time your mind (or eyes) wander from your concentration object, bring it back to the object. It is important to do this very gently and without judgment.
6. Repeat this process of coming back to the concentration object for as long as you wish, or until your homework is done.
Concentration can at first seem to trigger a lot of anxiety. This is, however, not the fault of the concentration practice. Rather, it happens because many people use distraction to avoid feeling emotions. Then when the distractions are removed, a tremendous amount of ambient, unprocessed emotions (i.e. emotions you are feeling but were unaware of feeling) are present. So it is not the practice of concentration that is causing anxiety, but instead it is the habit of distracting ourselves from our emotions. This may be the root cause of much inability to focus and concentrate. If that is the case, try meditating on emotions.
Stillness provides the opportunity for me to get in touch with and listen to my inner guidance system. The calmness and resolute that follows is so rewarding and reinforcing knowing that even in very difficult matters, where on the surface it feels like someone is losing, the peace of being honest with yourself and then the other person, even in the face of huge adversity, you got to speak your peace, your truth and explain what led you to that decision. We must also provide that same opportunity for others as well.
Okay – we are at the _____ mark – where did that time go??!!
Do one thing at a time
Be present for yourself
Be present for others
We are Human Beings and not Human Doings
Your presence is a present and the greatest gift you can give yourself and those around you
Notice your sensations
Notice your feelings
What are telling me?
Help others do the same
Since I am a big fan and believer of the answer being inside of ourselves, someone giving the gift of undivided presence will many times create the space for us to reconnect and re-member so we have the clarity and creativity to find the answer that feels most aligned with our essence.
Thanks again for hanging in there with me to the end – I am very humbled by your presence in my life. And if no one has told you, YOU MATTER and YOU ARE WORTH IT!!! I look forward partnering with you as you discover and share your special gifts and talents with the world.
Stay tuned next week for the last episode in this series entitled Personal Power. Thank you.