Much More to Presence

Mindfulness is what we practice to cultivate presence. Presence is the state of being totally immersed in what’s right in front of us.

The perk of presence that I usually focus on is that fear, worry, negative thoughts fall away. This is because those things do not exist in the Now. They are completely and totally in the past or imaginary future (And since there is always only NOW, that means the negative stuff doesn’t exist at all, except as a construct of the mind. Not exactly a point for parenthesis, yet here it is).

But there’s more to presence than watching our worry melt away.  

Have you noticed what happens when you’re totally present in the moment? If you have, you know what I’m talking about.

I think it’s literally impossible to not fall in love with everything around you when you are with it in the Now. When your mental and physical focus is right there. No mental straying, just presence.

When you really look into someone’s eyes and you’re there completely, it’s almost too much. Too much emotion, too much beauty, too much love.

That too much is probably why we’ve trained ourselves away from it.

Every time I allow myself to be truly present with my daughter, or a stranger, or a beautiful tree, I can’t breathe for a second my eyes instantly fill with tears. That’s presence.

That’s the feeling we often numb ourselves against. It’s disruptive, for sure. Almost too much to handle.

Remember the character Ricky in the movie American Beauty? He’s the teenager who films everything because there is so much beauty in the world he doesn’t want to miss any of it. He shows a video of a plastic bag swirling in the wind and says, “Sometimes there’s so much beauty in the world I feel like I can’t take it … and my heart is going to cave in.”

It’s no coincidence that he’s also a pot dealer who’s often stoned. When we’re present to it, the beauty can be almost too much. So we distract by being busy. Or numb by eating, or shopping, or getting high.

That’s how I knew in my gut that some people wouldn’t be in my life once I had a perfect, innocent, little baby around. She’s too much to handle. She encourages presence and those emotions can be scary.

So ease into it. Don’t go staring deep into everyone’s eyes, just pick one person and be right there with them for a second or two. You’ll see what I mean.

Or pick just one tree and start slowly. Before you know it, you’ll build up a tolerance for beauty.

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