December 20, 2016
It’s the holiday season again, and we are all thinking about presents. We shop for them, give them, we receive them, sometimes we even re-gift them. Culturally, there is a big emphasis on this practice, right? I want to talk about a different kind of gift: Presence.
Presence, you know. The ability to be fully here and now. This is the practice of paying attention to what is happening in this very moment. To cultivate true presence in this day and age an efforted practice of re-wiring our attention away from the default. This is distinctly different from the mind’s habitual ramblings which most often drift into the past or the future.
What’s different about Presence? Well, people can feel when you are present. They feel attended to, seen, understood. Wouldn’t that be a really nice thing to give this year? Instead of having your attention diverted by the buzzing of texts and messages on your phone, try this: put your phone away while you are in a conversation and give your attention fully to the person you are speaking with, to connection. Notice things about this person that you never noticed before.
I had a very interesting experience when I took a course in drawing by Betty Edwards (of Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain fame) On the second to last day, we were drawing portraits of each other and I finally understood the relationship between artists and their muses. When drawing my partner, I fell in love. It was such a cool thing to allow my eyes to rest on and absorb the little things that made that person unique. Things I would have never noticed otherwise, because I simply don’t usually pay attention!
Not only does presence function to bring us into deeper connection with the people and world around us, but it calms the mind and brings us into deeper peace in ourselves. If I can remember to stay present, the worries of the future or concerns of the past don’t have as much power over me. In the present, I am free.
In resting in the moment and allowing our senses to relax and absorb what the moment has to offer, we create a connection that is beautiful and invites love to enter.
The holidays are notorious for creating stress with so many things to get done, so many things to consider, create and deliver. Stress creates a sense of contraction: in our minds and in our bodies. When we consciously relax, we cultivate a sense of spaciousness. Joy lives in the spaciousness, and gets crowded out when we are in contraction. To elevate your joy factor this season, make a point of relaxing and sink into the moment. There really is no greater gift than your presence.
This holiday season, I invite you to give the gift of presence. It’s a practice built over time, so start small and give it a try. Give it to yourself, to your loved ones, and see how it feels to be fully and completely here.