The Gift of Presence

This holiday season, I choose to give myself the gift of presence. Instead of presents, I choose presence. And here’s why I’ve chose to give myself the gift of presence. Especially with the solstice, it is time for me to begin to come out of hibernation and return to life in a fuller way.

Meditation as Practice

mantra malaI’ve been using a string of beads to meditate. Similar to a rosary in the Catholic tradition, I use a male, or string of beads to help me stay focused as I repeat a phrase to center myself. And of course, that’s a human problem, to keep the mind focused on the task at hand and be fully present. The beads are a tool to keep the body focused. The phrase is a tool to keep the mind focused.

If you have ever done meditation, you know that the mind strays. That is what minds do. The practice is to notice when the attention wanders and then come back to the phrase, back to the beads, back to the posture, back to the breath, back to the moment.

Returning again and again

Meditator PresenceAnd when it starts again, the victory is in noticing that it has, and returning to the practice again. And again. And again.

Not too surprisingly, I often get to the end of the string of 108 beads and realize that I only payed close attention to a small fraction of the time.

Small Moments and Big Moments

Kaleidescope of presenceAnd then I cannot help but see that I am living my life that way. Do I want to get to the end of the string of beads called my life, and realize that I was not fully present for most of it? Do I want to get to the end of the year, the month, the week, the day and realize that I was not really present for most of it? Do I want to get to the end of this hour and realize that I have not been present?

Sleeping CatSometimes the answer is yes. Sometimes I want to just sit and watch a movie online and escape. Sometimes I want to daydream. Sometimes I want to run away from what I am feeling.

And in the evening, I tend to have less energy. So I tend to fire up the streaming device and put on something in the background. And before I know it, I am sucked in an binging on half the season of a TV show.

And that’s OK. It is what I chose that evening.

Is This What I Want?

toddler in autumn leavesAt some point, I need to ask myself how many evenings I want to do that. At some point, I want to ask myself how long do I want to live my life this way? Do I want to get to the end of this day and realize that I have not been present?

Can I return to the childlike way of being fully engaged in my life?
I have this gift called life. Like everyone, sometimes it’s really hard and I don’t want to deal with it. And sometimes it’s amazing and I love it. And someday, I will reach the end of my life. And what will I feel about it on that day? Assuming I have the opportunity to think about it before my last breath.

Flowery wood pathSo perhaps today I will choose to be more present. Perhaps this evening I will choose to listen to one of the many programs I have downloaded instead of turning on the streaming device. Perhaps today I will choose to be more present in each moment that I remember. And like the meditation, when I notice that my focus has strayed, I can bring it back to what is occurring in front of me, in me, and as me. I can set the reminder on my phone. I can choose cues to remind me, like every time I hear a bell or door open. I can make that intention for my day and practice, practice, practice.

Wish me luck!

How About You?

Do you have favorite practices for reminding yourself to stay present?

If you would like some guidance in staying present, or in knowing the Truth of your being, book a Practitioner Session for those in Sonoma County – or a session on phone/Skype/Zoom–  or schedule a time to talk about what I offer.

See a description of my self-paced online course on The 5 Levels of Attachment here.