There’s a morning when presence comes over your soul. You sing like a rooster in your earth-colored shape. Your heart hears and, no longer frantic, begins to dance. ~Rumi
The soul needs presence to expand and evolve.
It is the experience of “being” within a situation or moment, both observing and consciously participating in the awareness of second-by-second evolution. This is much like listening deeply to the ticking of a clock. We can’t stop time, but we can stop ourselves from overlooking or ignoring what each instance brings. Each one offers an opportunity to capture and integrate awareness and experiences that might otherwise have been lost.
After several months—years actually—of intensely processing my experiences of various trips, my own evolution and “aha” moments I had along the way, I’ve needed some time to step back to observe and review. This has reminded me to stay very present with myself and my soul’s path to make note of my own evolutionary process as well as explore where it might go next.
According to psychologist, Jon Kabat-Zinn, mindfulness is the moment-to-moment awareness of the good the bad and the ugly. Presence differs in that it is the act of inserting or immersing yourself into the moment to actually experience whatever that moment has to offer. It is more of an act than a simple awareness. It is allowing the experience to permeate us so that we become conscious enough to respond in a way that is true to our soul.
I define the soul as the essence of who we are, not something associated with any belief system or religion. The soul is the very “presence” we have as an energetic being—it is the “energetic signature” of our inner existence. When we practice presence within the world around us, we become one will all that is. Our own essence becomes part of the essence of the moment, and in that instant our world expands. The essence of what is happening in our immediate environment at that very instant becomes part of us, and we become part of it. The second this happens, the beauty of the moment is revealed.
Many experiences within the human condition challenge us to remain present. We become programmed with fearful or wounded responses that diminish our ability to stay aligned. A significant part of both healing and evolution requires us to allow discomfort in—to remain present with whatever is making us uncomfortable so that we can evolve beyond the moment or situation. In doing so, we are able to choose a healthy and/or new response. It is often our discomfort that alerts us to the need to stay present, but our fear of the moment pulls us away from our ability to respond in a way that will realign our soul within our human condition.
When our soul is wounded, fragmented or fractured in some way, we often have a difficult time staying present when something triggers us. However, by practicing presence, we can “sit” with the discomfort in a more detached way so that we can observe the situation rather than get absorbed by it. By staying in the moment, we can essentially change our historical response and replace it with something that brings us more comfort. This is how conscious evolution occurs.
How often do we run from uncomfortable situations that remind us of the past? And how often do we outrun or ignore our soul by staying preoccupied with unnecessary tasks so we don’t have to experience discomfort?
It happens all the time. And yet the ability to heal and evolve lies within each moment. We simply need to choose presence as our method of overcoming whatever is holding us back from our evolution.
Eckhart Tolle says, “The soul is your innermost being. The presence that you are beyond form. The consciousness that you are beyond form, that is the soul. That is who you are in essence.”
When we stay present, the essence of who we are—our soul—embodies consciousness; we become consciousness and consciousness becomes us. We merge with the biggest picture of existence possible and, as a result, far less matters. It is in this moment that we release the ego-based part of us that is enveloped by fear and it is also in this moment that we enter what I call the blissful void—all negative experience disappears and we simply become one with what is. When we are able to do this, we often see the way out of our wounded discomfort. We tune into our inner self enough to inform us about how to let go.
It is important to note that presence does not mean we have to endure. Instead, presence can serve as the catalyst to become more aware of when we need to remove ourselves from unhealthy situations—ones that will inevitably misalign us if we don’t take action. The ability to remain present to observe our internal reactions allows us to practice discernment for what to keep or release from our lives. My rule of thumb is that no one should have to endure something for more than twenty seconds. This is about the amount of time it takes to acknowledge that something is uncomfortable or unhealthy, then subsequently make the decision to change our situation. In other words, presence is our ally in preventing regret.
It doesn’t seem like presence would have to take effort, but it does. We must make a conscious effort to become and remain present in order to evolve. However, presence also greatly enhances our ability to truly live and experience life fully rather than simply exist. Engaging in presence, then, is perhaps the best investment we can make in our moment-to-moment evolution.