We live in a world of accumulation. Specialization. Accomplishment. And as we acquire all this knowledge, wisdom, and experience we become... something. That abstract ideal of whatever it is we'll be when we finally 'make' it. But what does that really mean? How do we know when we've made it?
What if, instead of focusing on simply acquiring more we shifted something? What if we began looking at how we could better learn to use and make the most of what we have to make intentional choices about where we want to go? Sure, we always want to keep an eye out for where we're going, but what about being fully connected with our path to get there? And I don't mean just seeing it with eyes wide open, but actually helping envision, develop, and build it.
That takes a certain level of trust in a process, that dreaded transition period that we all absolutely despise. No one likes the in-between. But what if, in the in-between, we could discover something? The space that's there can actually allow us to be more with ourselves. Connect more. Know more. Learn to feel more. And in those moments, we experience intentional, authentic presence. A pervasive and blooming presence* that we can recognize and allow to grow out of where we are at the moment. And help make us vitally aware of how to choose where we next want to go.
Of course, presence is a real buzz word these days. Harvard social psychologist Dr. Amy Cuddy has shone a bright spotlight on presence (also the name of her most recent book) as well as body language and posture, ascertaining that we can simply "fake it 'til we make it." But why in the world would you want to fake it, when you can actually develop the ability to fully be what you are, and learn to fully utilize all you've worked hard to accumulate? What if all this - presence, body language, even posture - wasn't something to do, but was something to could be an extension of who we are?
So what exactly is it, presence? Sure, it's a state of mind, but it's also a state of being: a choice. Connecting with your whole self and BEING with your whole self in any and every moment allows for something authentic to come through. Not because you're forcing or 'doing' it, but because it's finally allowed to.
Beautifully, there's something distinct about that moment that speaks louder than words. It's your mind finally clearing during a meditation practice - not because you willed it to happen, but because you re-connected. Enlivened that connected Self, allowing space to open up. It's the intangible "something" that leaves us breathless in the wake of a powerful musical performance. Or allows a performer to tap into raw emotion and with a look, captivate you. Move you. Tear you apart.
So where do we begin? How do we? Presence. Intentionality. Authenticity. And contrary to what we might believe, they aren't traits we're born with. They're states of being. Choices. Choices we can actually learn HOW to make. By tapping within, not without. Not to simply stand idly and hope presence will come, but learn (and choose) to be ripe ground, cultivated space for presence to bloom. And that makes all the difference.
“Your hand opens and closes, opens and closes. If it were always a fist or always stretched open, you would be paralysed. Your deepest presence is in every small contracting and expanding, the two as beautifully balanced and coordinated as birds' wings.” - Rumi
*Musings on this lovely phrase must be credited to a recent interview I discovered on lindseymckeonblog.com. Thanks, Captain America: nothing I expected but everything I needed to hear.