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Tip of the Week - Deepening Presence

In this week's Tip for Sanity we'll explore the practice of Presence. Presence enriches our relationships, increases our joy in the moment, and deepens our ability to expand our sensory abilities. Presence is like a super-power! (It also does amazing things for sex!)

So what is presence, and how can it make for a more balanced, peaceful, sexy, fulfilling experience in an otherwise sometimes insane world? Can this floating, sense-awake state of no mind bring serenity?

Let's define Presence as a 4-part practice including:

  • Stillness

  • Observation

  • Being Here Now, and

  • Cultivating and Expanding the Felt Sense

Part 1 - Stillness

Presence depends on our ability to quiet the body and mind.

Why?

Well, it's difficult to fully register what we observe in the world around us when the mind is preoccupied with running on a million subjects at a million miles a minute. It's difficult for loved ones to feel intimate heartful connection with someone who is restless, fidgeting, or looking at their messages. With stillness we can be more present. With presence comes deeper intimacy and deeper experiencing.

So in our modern world, how can we quiet the mind and body?

Some people reach a state of stillness by:

  • going to a floatation tank for an hour

  • sitting alone for hours or days in nature

  • listening to Theta or Delta BinauralBeat recordings for 20 minutes

  • listening to ASMR recordings

  • spending 20 minutes in certain types of meditation.

(You can click here to access an introduction to circular breath practice. )

For now, just inhale to a count of four, and exhale to a count of seven. Try five seconds of inhale and exhale this way. Try to lengthen the count each cycle.

When you are in this practice, notice that your body and mind will twitch and jitter with signals to pay attention to: itch over here, squirm this way, tell this person that thing, think about this subject. What count are we on?

Continue to remain still. Don't just do something, sit there. Just observe what your body and mind is doing. Watch the urges. Notice that you are not forced to attend to these itches and urges and apparent urgencies. Notice how, unresisted, each of these impulses shifts in 90 seconds or less, effortlessly.

Just breathe. Notice points of tension or clenching in the muscles and let them melt and relax.

Yoga also helps the body learn that it's ok to stand with, or even lean into, discomfort, twitches or even agitation. It helps us learn that our bones support us, that we are more supported than we realize, that we are safer than we realize. Yoga teaches us to go to the stretch point, then just be there with stillness, and breathe. It teaches us we do not have to fix or run away or protect against pain. It teaches us to discern between pains that actually damage us, and mild discomfort that is an opportunity for increasing relaxation, strength, growth, flexibility, endurance and resilience. Yoga teaches us how to physically find the body's place of rest even when the moment is a little uncomfortable. It shows us beyond a doubt that when we meet tension with stillness, in less than 90 seconds the tension relaxes, opens and softens.

Notice how your body, mind and heart feel right now.

Now reach for 3 more minutes of stillness. Just breathe, still the body, ask the thoughts from the inner manager to please wait 3 minutes. Breathe even more deeply.

Observe any body, relax the musculature, find the place where the bones support the form. Breathe.

Has 3 minutes passed? How do you feel now?

Part 2 - Pure Observation

Another aspect of being present is the capacity to differentiate between our (assessments, thoughts, stories, interpretations, projections, evaluations, fears) and the purely observed factual data you perceive.

For example, in a previous article we discussed ability to differentiate between, "a fast car" and "the Porsche doing 120mph. "Fast" is an assessment, "120 mph" is the fact. "Good"/"bad"/"terrorist" are all evaluations; "got all A's at school last year", "kicked a kitten" or "set off a bomb in NYC" are examples of pure observations, facts.

"The ability to observe without evaluating is the highest form of intelligence.” ― Jiddu Krishnamurti.

This form of intelligence requires noticing inner judges, the inner critic, the inner spiritual perfectionist, the defending inner protector. These aspects of ourselves evaluate relentlessly because they hope to contribute, and they don't know how to do it in a better way yet. (Later we will explore how to recognize the powerful, generative, innocent core values behind the weaker expressions of judgment and evaluation).

For now, just breathe quietly for 3 minutes in pure observation without judgement or interpretation.

How?

Just observe the breath. Don't describe it, just feel it come, and go.

Next, observe the sounds around you. Just notice them. Don't describe them, just hear them come, and go.

Observe the body sensations. Just notice the textures. Don't describe them, just let them come, and go.

(If you notice an inner judge (ex: "stupid, "beautiful", or "I suck at this"), just observe it as it comes, then melts away into another moment. If the inner critic labels (ex: "great meditator", "idiot"), don't interpret or assess what you observe (ex: "I'm not breathing deeply enough,"), just observe it and watch as it too naturally melts away. If you catch yourself having thoughts or judgments or assessments or stories to explain or interpretations, just let them go and come back to observing your breath.)

Let another 3 breaths come and go. Now notice how settled you feel.

Part 3 - Be Here Now

Another aspect of presence is the capacity to be here now. Right here. Right now.

Being present in the here and now, sometimes requires retraining the inner aspects of ourselves.

For example, we all have an inner manager, the task master who likes to drive ahead into the future In hopes of contributing to us in the way we need. The manager is useful. The manager tracks appointments, and knows where your keys are.

We also all have an inner protector, the defender who wants to protect us by helping us avoid things we have experienced before. The protector is useful. It reminds you about the bad meal you ate at that restaurant, and the memory of what he/she/it did that you did not like.

We count on the manager and the protector. But untrained, they can run rampant, never pausing to rest, acting out at times we need other aspects to thrive (like presence, appreciation or the ability to take in a loving compliment).

How can we retrain the inner aspects so that we can more easily be present when we want to be?

If you are preoccupied with your to do list, here is one way to train the inner manager:

  1. First, notice how the innocent inner manager wants to contribute, and wants the relief of getting things done. It wants to provide care for self and others.

  2. Next, notice that the manager can inadvertently start to run in survival mind overdrive. When it does, the beta brain dominates, and suddenly the present moment is overrun by the ghosts of a to do list, emails to check, places to go, people to see.

  3. Now, thank the manager for its hard work and rigor. Gently invite the manager to breathe. Ask the inner manager if it would be willing to sit and rest a few minutes. Remind the inner manager that the tasks will all still be there after these precious few minutes have passed.

  4. Then return to your presence. Become aware of your body, your environment, and the companions in front of you right here, right now.

This teaches the manager how and when it can rest. It teaches the manager to learn when the Higher Self is driving.

If you are preoccupied with the future, here is a way to train the inner protector:

  1. First, notice how the innocent inner protector wants to help, to defend against negative outcomes, to get safety for the self and for the family. It wants to create win-win, happy, fulfillment of your ideals.

  2. Next, notice that the protector can inadvertently run the train way ahead down the track, speculating, fearing the future, putting your emotions (and the emotions of those around us) on edge.

  3. Now, thank the protector for its diligence, sincerity and care. Gently invite the protector to stop running the train down the track. Bring your energy back on the heels. Breathe. Ask what protector is trying to provide, and feed that to the protector right now; feel the sweetness of what it is to already experience the need met. For example, if the protector is trying to provide safety, vividly imagine already being safe. (I like to call this practice, "Filling the cup".) Or, acknowledge what it is that the protector wants, and make requests right now if needed (more on Powerful Requests in another section). What can you request of yourself or of others that would help feed the protector's underlying need right now?

  4. Feed the protector's needs, then come back to drinking in the living abundant now.

  5. Ask the protector to consider crossing that bridge only if and when it arrives, realizing that the dreaded future actually may never actually happen. Remind the protector that you don't have to navigate and control circumstances to produce an ideal outcome. "Man plans, God laughs" - Yiddish proverb While man plans, nature laughs. Trust your capacity to respond in the moment if needed. Don't be responsible, be able to respond. You are much safer and more resilient than you imagine, just meet the new moment and choose from there. Like riding a bike: dynamically adapt as you go. Be willing to consider that even if things do not turn out the way we want or imagine, it may be precisely for the best, exactly what the universe wants.

  6. Then return to your presence. Become aware of your body, your environment, and the companions in front of you right here, right now.

These conversations teach the protector greater resiliency: replacing fear with being able to respond in the moment to what arises, the ability to make new requests and to make new choices.

Sometimes, being preoccupied with the future is because there's unresolved hurts/pain/trauma from the past.

If you are preoccupied with the past, resolve unresolved hurt:

Do effective, empathic, resolving, process work. (Later we'll cover an effective practice for process work called, SORTTing It Out).

By being here now - 100% here, observing, not thinking about to do's, not future thinking, not past thinking - we can deepen our ability to be present.

Part 4 - Opening the Felt Sense

Another aspect of presence involves deepening our observer to experience beyond our usual scope, expanding our peripheral awareness.

What is the Felt Sense?

From within the no-mind state, the observer still watches and listens and feels, but with a much deeper watching, listening, feeling. From this deep state of observation, we can cultivate the capacity to sense very subtle phenomena, or what some traditions call the subtle body.

Often our sense of subtle phenomena is drowned out by our racing mind, by preoccupation with the past or future or our to do list, or lost in the cacophony of our judging ourselves and others and the past and future. However, by retraining our inner observer, we can harvest a rich set of information from our environment, body, inner guidance and more (remote viewing and even the CIA).

To begin cultivating the felt sense, start with five minutes of your circular breath practice.

Once you have entered a very solid, settled state, open your eyes.

Notice in as much detail as you can the colors, textures, shapes and movement around you, as data. Look closer. Look closer. Open your gaze, look wider. Wider. Notice more colors, textures, shapes and movement around you, as data.

Now close your eyes and watch - what images show up on your inner eye when you close your eyes? Just observe, plainly, matter-of-factly. What colors, textures, brightness, darkness, shapes and movement do you see? Just notice it. Soon you will notice images that you did not create that will appear to your inner eye. Just observe, plainly, matter-of-factly. What colors, textures, brightness, darkness, shapes and movement do you see? Just notice it.

Now open your auditory observing sense. First listen to the sounds around you, in as much detail as you can. What words, phrases, sentences, sounds or notes do you hear? Listen closer. Listen closer. Now direct your attention inward and listen to your heart and mind. Just observe, notice. plainly, matter-of-factly. What words, phrases, sentences, sounds or notes do you hear? Listen closer. Listen closer. What does your inner ear hear? Soon you will notice phrases, sounds or words that you did not think to create that will appear to your inner ear. Just observe, plainly, matter-of-factly. What words, phrases, sentences, sounds or notes do you hear? Just notice it.

Now connect to your kinesthetic observing sense. First feel the textures that your skin feels, in as much detail as you can. What textures, firmnessness, softness, temperatures, breezes, movement, stillness or physical sensations does the body feel from the objects, clothes, space and people close to your body? Feel more closely. Closer. Now feel inside your body and its impulses. Just observe, plainly, matter-of-factly, just notice. What urges, movements, impulses or sensed information does the body feel from within? Pay attention. Closer. Closer. What does your inner felt sense notice?

This type of practice helps cultivate your capacity for observation, while also cultivating your connection to your felt sense, your connection to inward, subtle body phenomena. (I like to call it, "tuning the inner radar").

Some people will have greater facility with the visual, some with the auditory, some of the field sense/kinesthetic. In any case just observe, just notice, matter-of-factly.

Stillness, observing without judging, being here now, and expanding our subtle body felt sense not only benefits of serenity, interactions and balance. Presence is the root of intimacy. When you enhance your capacity to notice more and hear more and feel more, while judging less, the base of your sexuality improves. As we slow down, look closer, listen closer, touch more attentively and sense more subtly, we discover more mastery with our lovers.

This week, how will you practice:

  • Stillness

  • Observation

  • Being Here Now, and

  • Cultivating and Expanding the Felt Sense

...to build your presence for a more balanced, peaceful, sexy and fulfilling week for yourself and others?

Walking the Talk

  1. What are the 4 aspects of Presence described here?

  2. What practices can you try if you find you are future thinking?

  3. What practices can you try if you find you are thinking about your to do list?

  4. What are some pros and cons of practicing Presence?

  5. Compare the habit of practicing Presence to the usual way you spend your days. How might this be better or worse? What are some pros and cons of doing more of it?

  6. Where might you use Presence to increase sanity in your life? In your relationships? At work?

  7. How might a Presence practice reduce frustration for yourself and others?

  8. What do you value as your biggest take away from this weeks TipForSanity?

For more help with this tip, or if you’d like a free phone consultation toward an ongoing coaching relationship, call Maya toll-free 1.877.535.5438 M-Th 1-4pmET or click here to book an appointment.

 

Maya Gail Taylor's work with more than 10K clients as a consultant, coach certification school owner, wellness coach, tech developer, author and human evolution trainer has earned her more than 500 LinkedIn endorsements. She trained extensively with Marshall Rosenburg, David Deida, Ken Wilber, Newfield Network, BayNVC, Integral Institute and many others, while delivering her own body of work called "The Integrated Approach" (TIA), a meta-catalogue of skills and technology supporting the evolution of human consciousness through psychographic awareness, balancing, empathy and a 10-point integrated emotional intelligence informed by needs-consciousness and the transpersonal. To learn more about this method, subscribe to our Newsletter and get 27 Tips for Sanity, free.

Today Maya enjoys helping others while also developing a comprehensive empathic artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot.

In sessions with Maya, you can trust you will get care, confidentiality and extraordinary results.

Click here to schedule a session or call +1 (877) 535.5438 M-Th 1-4pmET.

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