Sensitive people feel things deeply. There’s no way around it: it comes with your temperament.
What exactly is Presence?
This beautiful photograph, taken by my friend Kaitlyn Wyenberg,* shows why a picture is worth a thousand words. If you click here you can open a larger version to keep on your desktop as a reminder of Presence. (You’ll see more of Kaitlyn’s work here in weeks to come.)
Presence is a lived experience. But between this photo and the words below, you’ll begin to get a sense of it:
Presence is spacious
A feeling of room for anything and everything that is here in you now. Don’t be hard on yourself, though, If the “room for anything” you are able to muster feels more like a broom closet than a vast blue sky. When I’m really “up against it,” I count myself lucky if my sense of Presence is a single molecule thick. But that’s enough: any air is better than none. I think of it as a tiny oxygen suit that keeps me from drowning in sadness or anger.
Presence has a quality of stillness
In Presence, I am aware of being here in this moment. This can manifest as subtle quality of inner quiet, even in the midst of action. Think of the space shuttle, orbiting outside our atmosphere. It moves silently through space, without apparent hurry, yet in reality it is moving 17,500 miles an hour.
Presence feels accepting
The space shuttle moves in its calm, unhurried way even if the astronauts inside are arguing or dealing with a crisis. The trick is to hold awareness of both: I am the shuttle, and this inner argument is going on. Acceptance does not mean agreement: I don’t have to like the argument to keep my “molecule suit” of awareness around it. From Presence, I can hold “what is.”
Presence feels like fresh air and flowing water
It feels refreshing, relieving, and renewing. It is the opposite of stuck, hopeless, confused, or overwhelmed. The next time you are upset, try scanning your body to see if you sense any places that feel good. It might be just your right hand, or your left foot, but that’s all you need to create a “molecule suit” of Presence.
Presence feels open to possibility
From here, you can see a long way. Your horizon is expanded. This expansion energizes you and makes you curious: “I wonder what is behind that island over there…I wonder how far does the water stretch before it reaches the open sea…”
Presence brings perspective
You could say Presence IS perspective. From Presence, you recover your sense of the right relation to things, people, and events in your life. You can use language to help you accomplish this. First, describe what you are experiencing. Then preface it with, “I’m sensing…” or “I’m aware of…” or “I’m noticing…..” : “I’m sensing my stomach is tense.”
Presence is a paradigm shift
You don’t have to wait until the floodwaters rise to try this. Just notice whatever is going on in you now. And notice any place in yourself where you feel any kind of space, stillness, acceptance, fresh air or flow, possibility or perspective. Even the fact you remembered to do this is a level of Presence.
Then notice how everything feels different. From this place in yourself, you no longer fear your emotions. You can truly appreciate them as messengers bringing insight. That’s the gift of Presence.
*You can find Kaitlyn at firstname.lastname@example.org.