Over the past several years, I’ve been learning about presence. For me, so far, “being present” has meant slowing down my doing in order to make space for my being. I’ve reduced meetings, unnecessary calendar items, busy-work, screen time; I’ve increased walks, sitting still, yoga, prayer. These changes have been very good for me, but I’ve noticed that they haven’t always led to my being more present. I’m learning that there is still a lot of doing in my being.
There’s a saying: “Wherever you go, there you are.”
I think a lot. It never really shuts off. Whether I’m writing a melody in my head or thinking through a scenario, I’m constantly thinking. Often, for the entirety of a walk, I’m figuring something out. Even as I sleep, I’m figuring things out. I’ve always thought of this as a good thing — like a productivity superpower. But I’m learning that more thinking rarely leads to rest… that, in fact, my thinking seems to be pulling me away from presence, not towards it.
I don’t discount the steps I’ve taken — they’ve been good and healthy steps, and have changed my life. But I’m seeing now that there is so much more available.
Stillness of the body, or the schedule, does not mean stillness of the mind or heart. Lately, even during stillness-type activities, I have been feeling a non-stillness, deeper in my body. It’s more subtle than gross motor activity, but it’s there — in my breathing, my pulse, my muscles. It can’t be seen at the surface, but it is there. These signals are so helpful — my body is showing me the way to go.
I believe my next step into presence is to reduce the activity beneath the surface of the now seemingly still water.
Can I take a walk where my primary experience is of the walk, and not my thoughts about the walk?
Can my primary experience of a person in my life be of the person and not my thoughts about the person?
Can I begin to experience life as it is, and let go of the narrative in my head?
These questions trigger my anxiety. I’m afraid to stop thinking, almost as if thinking is what is keeping me alive. This is a matter of faith.
Which leads me to this question: Who will take care of me if I’m not thinking about my problems?
But there is a voice in the very deepest part of me, whispering the very truest thing about me — about how my being exists in its fullness before and without any of my thinking.
I experienced this with my daughter, Olivia. She likely never had a conscious thought. She just… was. She was fully Olivia, lacking nothing. Perfect.
I am learning that thinking can become another form of doing. We can stop all surface activity and still be filled with the noise of our thoughts inside — controlled by a narrative which was passed down to us without our knowing.
“I think, therefore I am”… this doesn’t feel true to me anymore.
I am. That is enough.
I Am is calling.
I Am is inviting you and me to join in being.
Of course there is still doing. But our doing, which exists at the very surface of us, can flow from our deeper being. Our doing is no longer a means to our being, but a product of it. This will change everything.