Today's topic is about one of the most commonly sought after states of mind. What does presence mean to you? If you were more present, how would life be different? Simply put, presence is the act of being 100% mentally present to whatever you're currently taking on. To be fully invested in that activity.
A Zen allegory is to avoid being a smokey fire. A smokey fire is one that burn with a lot of waste.Much of what is not consumed in the fire is released into the atmosphere. A pure fire, one burning with almost no smoke, is one that completely consumes its fuel. In seeking presence, we are seeking to burn ourselves completely in whatever task we are taking on.
It should be no surprise that multi-tasking is generally the first place that we sabotage our presence. Look up at the top of your browser: how many tabs do you currently have open? Hit Alt-tab: how many applications do you have open? How often will you check back to your e-mail program while you read this? (Practice being accountable - post in the comments and let us know).
Here are some other common places that we leak away our presence:
- Remaining incomplete on something that has happened in the past.
- When we allow ourselves to remain incomplete on something, that thing retains a piece of our energy. It sits in the back of our minds and tugs at our attention. We are burdened by that energy. The more things in our lives we are incomplete with, the less we experience true presence.
- Neglecting our well-being.
- How many hours do you sleep a night? How regular is your bed-time? How often do you eat breakfast? Are your meals eaten at the same time everyday, or do they fluctuate? These are all ways in which we sabotage our well-being. When we do so, it takes away our ability to focus on tasks and to be present to them.
- Over-committing ourselves.
- When we overcommit ourselves, either by saying "yes" too often, or "no" not often enough, we overload our mental/psychic capacity, and take away from our ability to focus on one particular thing.
All of the above are things that our survival mechanism does. We say "yes" because we have a story about how we will be perceived, or how the other person will feel if we were to tell them no. We act recklessly and neglect our well-being because we are running away from a fear, or because it's easier to numb ourselves than to take charge. Some people's survival mechanism has them play the victim. When they are not being at cause for their own well-being, it is that much easier for them to collect evidence showing that life really doesn't want them to succeed.
[Tweet "Avoid being a smokey fire."]
Here's the bottom line: when you are acting from a place of essence, you have presence. It is the surival mechanism that wastes time. When you're acting in line with your truest self, you aren't focused on what you aren't doing, or how you should be spending your time otherwise - you're simply present to your task.
When we are acting from a place of safety, comfort, procrastination or avoidance, we are fully present to all of those things (and usually barely present to the activity that we're actually doing).
So check in with yourself next time you're doing something and feeling guilty about it. What are you avoiding? What's the fear? What is your survival mechanism giving you access to? Keep in mind that anytime you are acting from a place of survival mechanism, it is an opportunity to look within and see how you are being triggered.
Want presence? Act in alignment with your truest self. It's that simple.