I taught a workshop the other day and was keenly aware of the importance and power of presence as it affects not only ourselves but the space and people around us. This professional workshop focused on helping clients become more grounded and have the ability to re-center after becoming activated. As we all came together for the day, I could feel the qualities of our combined presence and found myself emphasizing the presence of the practitioner as the main element in any healing process.
On a more general note, I’m also always aware of the importance and power of presence as we move through our everyday lives. There isn’t a moment that we aren’t radiating the qualities of our personal and collective presence, and our personal presence inevitably impacts not only our own experience but that of everyone we encounter along the way.
This got me to thinking of the ways in which we can become more mindful of the qualities of our personal presence, and of the importance of being able to notice when we radiate negative or hurtful qualities and need to make available the choice to reorient ourselves and “dial in” a different mood state, quality of consciousness, or focus of our attention.
For this week’s practice in conscious living, here are a few practices that may be helpful when you find yourself radiating or expressing qualities that don’t feel healthy to you, or when you find that you want to add something positive to a collective context within which you may find yourself:
- Notice where you may experience tension in your body and invite yourself to soften. Softening automatically reduces activation and stress in the body and your presence, when you are softer, will radiate gentler energies and qualities.
- If you find that you are irritable or impatient, take a few moments to focus your awareness in your heart (an adaptation of HeartMath), bring to mind an image, sound, or other representation of something you love or for which you have affection, and then gently breathe in and out of your heart for a few minutes. The radiating presence of an open heart is quite different from the radiating presence of a tense mind or body.
A personal practice I engage in at the beginning of each day is to focus my awareness in my heart, breathing in and out through my heart space, and mentally say to myself a number of times, “I choose love.” I find that this brings me fairly quickly into a heart-centered presence that I would like to carry throughout the coming day.
- Notice where you focus your awareness. If you find that you are mentally chewing on some resentment or argument you had, or think you may have, with someone, notice what it’s like to deliberately, yet gently, shift your awareness to thoughts that offer you a sense of support, inspiration, awe, or some other positive state of mind. This shift in state of mind will automatically shift the state of your body and emotions and, thereby, shift the radiating presence that you bring into your world.
Here, again, an internal statement or mantra that brings a positive state might be worth having in the back of your mind so you can pull it forward at times like these. The statement might be something like, “A part of me is irritated but I am fine and I choose equanimity,” or something that resonates as true for you.
- If you find that you are constricted and tense over situations in your life, or about your life in general, notice what happens if you take on a gratitude practice, allowing yourself to bring to mind two or three things for which you are grateful, no matter how seemingly small or insignificant. Gratitude has a distinctly different “tone” and radiating a quality of gratitude can powerfully affect the quality of your presence.
A close companion to gratitude is a practice of generosity. You might explore this, as well, and notice what qualities it brings to your presence.
It’s helpful to remember that the world around us is all about energy and frequencies, and the different qualities your presence radiates are frequencies that can be shifted if you discover you don’t like what is moving through you into the world.
There are other practices that you can choose, as well, such as Lovingkindness, Tonglen (about which I’ve written quite a bit recently), breathing exercises that help you to settle, and more. The key thing isn’t which practices you choose. Rather, the important thing is that you develop the capacity to sense the quality of your presence and then have the option to choose to shift to a different quality or add some qualities you’d like to carry in and with you.
As with all these weekly practices, there’s no right way to do this one. Instead, my intention is to offer you an opportunity to become more consciously aware of the importance and power of your personal presence and its impact on you and the world around you. Please remember to bring along curiosity as your constant companion and to pat gently on the head any judgments that may arise, allowing them to move on through without your having to respond to them or do anything with or about them.