WHAT IS PRESENT MOMENT AWARENESS?
I remember some of the first times I heard people talking about presence, I just couldn’t really understand the depth of their words. The idea was there, but it felt like vapor - it had to be more than what I was thinking, otherwise it wouldn't be a topic of conversation.
At the time I was identified with my thinking mind, believing that I was the accumulation of all my thoughts and experiences.
Presence is an experience. It is not possible to understand from inside the mind. The mind is only able to recognize facts or details about experience, and to form concepts - ideas about experience.
THE MIND CANNOT HAVE AN EXPERIENCE OF SOMETHING.
IT CAN ONLY RELATE TO SOMETHING THROUGH THOUGHT.
Presence is so simple that the experience is often overlooked. The mind is busy talking about the stuff we experience in the present moment, and so we do not build a recognition of presence, we simply allow it to be covered over with thought - descriptions, opinions, comparisons, labels, and judgments.
I once heard a popular music artist talking about how performance is greatly enhanced by being present. I didn’t understand what that meant at the time, but it always stuck with me, as though some part of me understood the impact of her statement.
Several years ago as I was reading Eckhart Tolle’s book, A New Earth: Awakening to Your True Purpose I became completely at one with my true identity - for a few days at least…
⭐️ FANCY ⭐️
All this means is that I awoke from myself as a mind-made personality, and into myself as PURE CONSCIOUSNESS.
This connection with the true Self isn’t something new in my experience - I was very aware as a child, and had the recognition of myself as that awareness.
I didn’t have a real understanding of what the awareness was, though, since I had never experienced a contrast to enlighten my understanding of it.
IN ORDER TO KNOW PRESENCE
I had to experience the turmoil of living one step removed from all of my experiences.
I had to pay closer attention to the dialogue in my mind than to experiencing reality.
It was only after living inside the prison of my mind that I could experience the contrasting simplicity of living in present moment awareness.
I had long wondered where the magic that I felt as a kid had gone.
It was buried.
Underneath heaps and piles of conditioned behaviors that I identified with.
Being a “know-it-all”, since that’s really what the mind is/does.
When I finally re-experienced that familiar state as an adult, and felt the impact of letting go of all the conditions of my mind for a brief moment, I was able to truly understand the value of being aware of the present moment.
OF BECOMING CONSCIOUS.
A whole new world opened up right above the old one, and I was able to experience the glory of present moment reality as it truly exists - another dimension - heaven on earth.
I was able to experience the timeless dimension of eternity - something the human mind cannot experience.
It was profound, connective, and completely unconditioned.
After a brief moment of dimensional juxtaposition, I gradually fell back into my mental patterning.
My mind became identified with frustration at the inability to regain consciousness - something it hadn't even experienced, yet found no problem taking credit for.
Of course, this is just a trap the mind sets in order to get you to buy into it, and keep energizing it to keep it alive.
I have been able to reorient myself back to that place of awareness through some practices I’d love to share with you.
I hope there is something in here that will help you play with your awareness, too - and remember, play is something filled with joy.
When we play, there is no expectation of particular outcomes, and the mind is ripened with curiosity at where things may lead. Your mind is not IN CHARGE.
You’re not catching, trapping, forcing, or condemning. These are not playful states. These are characteristics of the ego, or the mind-made self.
If you find yourself there, cool 😎
Just WATCH YOURSELF being those things.
Become aware of your mind-made self, and simply allow the experience to become curious again.
It can actually be fun to recognize the ego, and to subtly learn to pacify it with a gentle, loving awareness of it - that's really all it takes to put yourself back into the seat of the experiencer.
You can once again find yourself as
THE CHILDLIKE ONE WHO EXPERIENCES LIFE
Rather than thinking you are
The mind that endlessly covers over experience with words
Go gently, my friends, it is a practice.
You will miss it a lot - Eckhart so beautifully illuminates that the word sin, actually means “to miss the mark”.
The point of experience is not to nail it. The point is to recognize it.
A favored practice to experience present moment awareness is to:
WATCH YOURSELF PHYSICALLY ACTING WITHOUT COMMENTING ON IT MENTALLY.
1. Practice doing an action that you can watch from inside your SELF.
Watch yourself doing the dishes
- Look at your hands
- Recognize them as your own
- Feel the water, notice the temperature, recognize the small details of your task, and let the sensations in your body be the experience of this task
Watch yourself walk
- Look at your feet as you cross the floor
- Watch the perspective shift as you walk
- Notice the subtle shift in space between things as your position changes
Watch yourself drink water
- Watch your hand grab your glass of water
- Lift the glass to your mouth
- Feel the water in your mouth
- Follow the water down your throat and into your stomach.
- If you wish, believe the water is fueling your energetic body - after all, water is highly conductive of electricity, and we are ⚡️electric⚡️
Oftentimes during mundane chores, we go completely unconscious.
Maybe you begin mentally complaining about the task - how long it will take, how boring it is.
Maybe you shut off your experience of the task by spinning some internal story about a conflict you believe you’re currently experiencing, and so you generate internal dialogue with someone, and energize the conflict in your mental body.
2. Practice feeling the sensations in your body while you do an action.
This step is as simple as feeling what it is that you’re touching
- Notice the sensation in your fingertips as you type
- Feel your connection to the chair
- Feel the bottoms of your feet on the ground
Feel yourself breathe
- Feel the breath fill your lungs
- Feel it pass back out through your nose or mouth
Internally feel for the electric pulse of your body
- Sit still and see what you can feel inside your body (closing the eyes can be very helpful here)
- Try to feel small points on your body
3. Watch your thoughts
Chances are you think without noticing, so just try to notice what your mind does
- Are the thoughts normal to you?
- Do you reprimand yourself for thinking?
- Do you pretend to be perfect because you're not thinking?
- What is the voice saying? Is it familiar to you?
- Are you annoyed? Itchy? Hungry? Just observe - nothing is wrong or right here, you are simply here to WATCH YOURSELF
If you are having trouble connecting to the sensations in your body, you are not alone.
It effects a lot of people to varying degrees, and it is believed to be a learned behavior.
In another fascinating publication, The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma, Bessel van der Kolk says:
“People who suffer from alexithymia tend to feel physically uncomfortable but cannot describe exactly what the problem is. As a result they often have multiple vague and distressing physical complaints that doctors can't diagnose. In addition, they can't figure out for themselves what they're really feeling about any given situation or what makes them feel better or worse. This is the result of numbing, which keeps them from anticipating and responding to the ordinary demands of their bodies in quiet, mindful ways. If you are not aware of what your body needs, you can't take care of it. If you don't feel hunger, you can't nourish yourself. If you mistake anxiety for hunger, you may eat too much. And if you can't feel when you're satiated, you'll keep eating.”
Essentially, people have been taught to override their body’s natural feeling responses to things because of external pressures.
Begin the practice simply. Please note that everything in life is a practice, and if you are not able to embody something on the first try, this does not mean that you will never experience it.
Showing up with curiosity in practice will lead you farther down the road to yourself than judgement and frustration - although these are natural experiences along the way, too.
The experience of frustration, or even hatred, is not wrong.
If you wish to experience something new, you must recognize when you are energizing repeated patterns that are intended to make your experience familiar to the mind made self.
Make a decision who you would like to be at the helm of your life.
You, or your mind?