I’m writing to you from the beautiful island of Koh Phangan in Thailand. For this May’s theme, I feel guided to talk about the concept of Presence and its applications to living in an urban environment.
Presence seems like a no-brainer when it comes to having conversations, making deals, working with others, or whatever it is that we do during our day. And yet, have you ever gone through a day in your life where you were on auto-pilot, unable to remember how you got from point A to Z? I definitely have.
Presence is something that we were naturally born with. We can see this in the inquisitive nature of children. When they become accustomed to their environment, their eyes and ears receive information with full attention. But, how did we get from being a playful and PRESENT child to becoming a zombie of a human being? We may have this innocence and unadulterated curiosity somewhere along the way. Over the years, that essence is clouded by layers and layers of conditioned behaviors that we learn from our parents and society.
When we are NOT present, we become unfocused, anxious, fearful, and sometimes feel like we’re trapped by some external force. We forget that we actually have the power to change our reality at any given time.
In my experience of deep inner work through meditation and self-inquiry methods, I have found that presence lives, not at opposing ends of the spectrum, but in the spaces in-between. Presence is cultivated through the practice and experience of balance.
This past week, I have been undergoing an inner guidance facilitator program here in Thailand, getting very acquainted with this quality of presence. Our teacher Amara has been leading us into deep internal experiences through contemplative self-inquiry, embodied sound and touch. We enter an exploratory space where we essentially experience WHY we get in the way of our natural state of happiness, peace and joy.
I usually access meditative states through stillness, but during this process, I’ve found myself having a more embodied experience of living my meditative state: receiving thoughts in the forms of images, symbols, stories and memories, very much like have a waking dream. At the same time, I’m experiencing the movement of physical energy. I might be quivering, shaking or dancing. I’ve basically been accessing multiple states of consciousness from a place of childlike curiosity and pure innocent play. What I found wasn’t always light and fluffy. I encountered a lot of old demons, anger, judgment, stories of not getting enough and of not being enough.
Over the last decade of teaching and observing clients, I’ve encountered two types of people: Those who are overly attached to the material realm, and those who are overly defined by what it “means” to be spiritual.
If you identify with either of those labels, remember that the Truth is that WE are actually both. We weren’t born to be limited and small, we were born to be expansive and magical. We can live abundantly on the material AND spiritual planes. We HAVE to break out of this outdated dualistic way of thinking. And that’s the key: THINKING. Mental intelligence can only carry us so far.
Presence is about being open and receptive to what IS available in, what Eckhart Tolle calls, the HERE and NOW. Not some projection of the past OR some fantastical hope for the future.
The next time you find yourself contemplating if you’re RIGHT or WRONG; GOOD or BAD; THIS or THAT, try to change channels like you would on a TV remote. Tune in to what you’re feeling. Of course, this can be scary because sometimes we don’t want to know the answer – even when we do know what it is. It’s easy to want to sweep everything under the rug and forget.
Don’t be afraid to see into what we label as darkness. Every single person have aspects of both light and shadow. I challenge you to ask yourself: “How present am I to what’s actually bubbling underneath the surface? Am I hiding something or am I freely claiming my truth? What is my truth? Will I cultivate more presence through the exploration of my truthfulness?”
There are so many questions we can ask ourselves about how happy or unhappy, how stuck or unstuck we are in our lives. If we can learn to let go of the pressure of answering, allow ourselves to live the questions instead, presence will naturally flow in. Isn’t that what most people want: to show up for our own lives, fully embodied?
We have some workshops and half day retreats this month that incorporate yoga, meditation, sound healing, inner guidance and a lot more contemplative tools to help you become a more present you. So please visit sagehouse.sg for the full list of workshops, and I hope to see you very soon.