We Are Constantly Seeking Presence

We Are Constantly Seeking Presence
We Are Constantly Seeking Presence

During my recent trip to Costa Rica, I had a moment of inspiration. I was laying in a hammock and focusing intently on the words I was reading in the book Proof of Heaven. For a long while, there were no thoughts in my head, only the mental comprehension of the words. When a thought finally popped into my head, it came in the form of a question… I wondered if part of the reason I’ve always loved reading is because it is an activity that allows me to be intently Present. In fact, reading almost forces a person to be attentive – maybe you’ve also had an experience where your mind wandered and you had to go back and re-read an entire section!

The extension of my thought about enjoying reading for the Presence it elicits is that we tend to like activities that call us into the Now. This can easily be seen with adrenaline activities (try jumping off of a 100 foot bridge if your mind is elsewhere!), but it is also evident when it comes to things like sex, alcohol, drugs, and situations that evoke intense emotional reactions. I wonder if this principle could also be applied to travel – when you’re in a new city everything is fresh and you’re very attentive to your surroundings.

I don’t think there is anything wrong with engaging in activities that center you in the Present, but I do think it’s important to note that we can experience Presence outside of circumstances. After all, it’s all internal! I really enjoy frequent meditation and yoga – I find these two things in particular really facilitate presence.

I’d love to know if you’re on board with the thought that everything we do is trying to draw us into the moment or if you think there’s more to the picture! Also, what activities do you find really center you in the Now? 


4 Responses »

  1. For me it has always been big things, like thunder and storms. They stir something primal in me and it is in those moments I feel the most alive. There’s just something about seeing lighting split the sky or strike down nearby, to have winds nigh on strong enough to lift me off the ground enguld me. In situations like that, I’m aware of nothing but the present moment and I think that’s why it makes me feel so alive. Instinct is a powerful override, especially when you’re body’s pumping adrenaline like there’s no tomorrow. I believe you’re right about travel, instict kicks in, new, exciting, potentially great or even dangerous.

    However, there’s also the other end of the same spectrum. Something else that brings me into the moment is wandering, in the mountains and through forests. I experience the same kind of calm I get through writing but writing does the opposite for me, brings me outside of the present. I lose track of time and the world completely when I write.

    I believe that things that centre us are the things thay resonate with our instincts. That is the way it is for me at least. :)

  2. Despite the “reduced” distances from the ability to fly from one corner to another, being centred in the Present by reading stories (and blogs, for that matter) lets me feel I’m not alone on this blue planet. To that end, the title of your post, Andrea, is very appropriate: “we are constantly seeking presence,” even if it might be ephemeral. Thanks for your post, Andrea!

  3. From my experiences, I’ve approached being completely focused and in the moment in two ways. The first has been through dangerous physical challenges, of rock climbing, and more recently through mountaineering. I strayed towards the line of falling to my death and it forces every piece of me to be firmly planted in the now. The second has been through meditation and relaxation. That is a wholly different experience of “The Now” as far as I’ve felt.

    As a warrior, I have to approach this carefully because what I train to do involves being put in a situation that elicits the first way, but requires me to perform the second in order to survive. I’ve had my share of adrenaline fixes (The mountain will win eventually, I’m just saying!) but I believe it is healthier and longer lasting to approach this through some form of relaxation/meditation.

    I find my mind often wanders when I read, but I guess that is its own pleasure. I would say that one of my favorite things is a book that captures my mind and takes me on a great ride. However, I feel that different types of books take me to different places. Many of my favorite novels transport me to a whole different world, so much so that people have to shout to get my attention! Others, like some great self-help books I’ve read, have taken me deep inside myself where I get this blank look on my face as I reflect on my life. Yet I believe the only book that keeps me in the present moment would be my old college text books, too boring to get lost in them haha!

    My reading style is more like traveling away from the physical moment to a different dimension rather than being in tune with what is going on around me. However I am completely focused at that moment on reading. That makes me wonder, is there both a physical now and a mental now? a spiritual now? Is there a difference between being focused and being present? Now you got me asking questions! hah!

    Perhaps I will play with reading with presence, or rather using it as a vehicle to become more present.

    Interesting ideas Andrea!

  4. Andrea,
    I enjoyed viewing your photos of your adventures. You have an interesting bucket list. Keep having fun no matter the age. John

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