We all hear about how important it is to be present. What is does it mean to be present? What does presence mean to you?
When we are present in our bodies, we inhabit the present moment; we are not lamenting the past, or worrying about the future.
A touchstone experience for me, along my journey of understanding what it means to be present, was an exercise at a spiritual retreat in which we simply walked around the room and said hello to each other. We then paused and did a short practice in which we sensed our legs, arms, and body as fully present in the room. We meditated from this place, and then repeated the “meet and greet.” I was struck by the difference in our interactions before and after the meditation. Suddenly, I felt so much more connected to everyone. The people I spoke to seemed somehow sweeter, brighter, and more real. What could have possibly changed in the last five minutes? I wondered. Had I changed? Had they?
That experience has remained a touchstone for me. When I feel like I’m not connected to the people around me, when I feel isolated and closed off, I repeat that exercise and bring myself into a greater space of presence.
Presence is vital to staying grounded, being non-reactive, and truly experiencing each moment. When we are present, we are not living from our personality. We are not projecting our past experiences onto the person in front of us, or hedging against possible future events. There is something truly liberating about taking yourself off of autopilot and making choices from a place of truth in the moment.
Learn more about my tools for accessing presence in my upcoming book: Everything is Going to be Okay: From the Projects to Harvard to Freedom. Register for VIP status today.