To live fully is to let go and die with each passing moment,
and to be reborn in each new one.
Wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime of listening
when you’d have preferred to talk.
The aim of life is to live, and to live means to be aware,
joyously, serenely, divinely aware.
For after all, the best thing one can do when it’s raining is to let it rain.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Being present is to understand where I am. What is it that I am being present to?
In religious and mystical traditions, being present is the first step in the contemplation of the infinite. One must quite one’s mind, still one’s thoughts, surrender to the “first mover” in order to be able to connect with the primal energy of the cosmos…with what IS. This connection is the foundation of one’s identity.
Science also has much to teach us about the primacy of being present. Dr. Sid Liebes, a physicist at HP Labs, says that scientific disciplines deal with ‘what is’ at the most basic level the human mind is capable of comprehending: “Matter and energy have no alternative to being what they are, to ‘accepting what is,’ and to ‘paying attention’ to their environment in that they are unceasingly obliged to receive and to acknowledge whatever input comes their way.”
To further explore these two viewpoints on “being present”, click on the videos below.
A visual meditation on what it means to be present from a personal perspective.
A video on what is means to be present from an evolutionary perspective.
Exercise: Being present to another
In our day-to-day lives, we can forget to be present even to those we care about most. This week, think of a person close to you, and then make an appointment to get together. Be sure to choose a time and place when you know you’ll be able to give the person your full attention. Make it your objective to be fully present to the person…to listen as perhaps you have never listened before.
Exercise: Being present to ourselves
A simple exercise from one of Eckhart Tolle’s books. It is designed to help us develop our “observer” capacity in order to become more present, more conscious.
- Take a breath
- Wait for the first thought to appear
- That thought is NOT you
- YOU are the observer