Holiday time often means giving great presents or gifts to those we love. It’s a way of saying “I care about you!” or “I value what you bring to my life!” These are wonderful sentiments and a great way to express them. There is one gift however, that is even more powerful than any tangible present, and that is the gift of your “Presence” – being really present to those you love. Here are three simple suggestions on how to do this well if it’s a gift you’d like to give.
- Presence is your capacity to really be with someone where they are. Even if we know better we will often find ourselves jumping from one topic to the next and steering the conversation our way. Often we use our conversation to engage our own need to talk. We might be excited about our own life and accomplishments and want someone to listen. Here are a few simple ways to turn that around. Deliberately and intentionally focus on being present to the other in conversation. Make it your mission to find out about them and their current life. A little focus and awareness is all it takes. Listen carefully and take the time to let the other know what you heard them say rather than launch into your own story. It will make a huge difference to the kind of connection you make
- Presence comes without judgment. This is big. Can you be with someone without letting your judgments about them or their lifestyle cloud the conversation? As the famous song title suggests, just “let it be.” Listen, explore, and be present. Every time you notice your mind judging what is being said hum to yourself a few lines of the song “Let it be.” This doesn’t mean you have to agree with everyone and everything they say. There may be some times that call for a hot discussion. But that is very different from “being present” to someone. It’s a different kind of conversation with a different purpose. Save it for another time, another place.
- Presence involves a lot of listening – deep listening. This means listening to the words and understanding the content and meaning that goes with them. You might be able to take it even one step further and also try to understand the feeling underneath the words and the content. To be understood by another at the feeling level without judgment is one of the most awesome gifts we can ever receive from another, so it’s got to be a good one to give. It helps if you summarize and clarify what you hear as you listen. That helps let your friend know you are “getting them.”
So, that’s the theory. Are you ready to practice?
As soon as you have decided, set up a time to get together — and let them know you’d like to spend a little “catch up time” with them.
Set your intention to bring all three of the above elements to the conversation. Tip: Think about the meet up beforehand and as you visualize the conversation also take a moment to really feel it in your body. Feel yourself being fully present to them. Feel what happens in your body as you let go of judgment. Notice your embodied focus as you listen deeply for meaning and feeling. Rehearse a few times if you can and be sure to “embody” your rehearsal because your body will be there with you and a will have a great memory of the rehearsal to fall back on and bring you up to speed.
There may be other opportunities to engage this practice over the holidays. Try it at holiday parties with a few people instead of making small talk if the situation seems appropriate. Another place is before, after, or even during a family meal or celebration. Use your judgment to pick the time, person, and place and give it a try. You might be surprised how well this gift is received and what it will bring in return to you in the year ahead.
Real presence is more easily given by someone who has the capacity to be fully present to their own self. Many of the ideas I have shared above are an integral part of our Phoenix Rising work. We use embodied mindfulness and deep listening to enhance presence. Please share this blog post with your friends and family so they might be also able to share the gift of presence this year. Happy Holidays!
REMINDER: You can take any of our 2015 courses at 2014 prices if you register by midnight on December 31st. Check our Special Offers good until Dec 31st only!