The Present of Presence

Lately I’ve been noticing how I handle stressful situations.  I grit my teeth, tense my muscles, aim my body at the task or event I want to conquer, and then I launch toward it full speed like a freight train hurling toward a pinpoint of light at the end of a long tunnel.  I eliminate all distractions that can possibly wait until this all-consuming task is completed and I come out the other side of the mountain.  But wait, does it need to be that way?

My intention is to do something different this year by staying present to the holiday season as it unfolds, remaining connected with my experiences and moving consciously and appreciatively through them.  So I notice with curiosity my freight train response to stress, knowing that change starts with awareness.  And I accept that this is my normal response, so that I can move on to the next step of change:  choosing to respond differently…

In my yoga practice this week I explore flow, noticing the full experience:  how it begins with an intention to move (or stretch, or relax), then I observe myself follow through on that intention by beginning to move (or stretch, or relax), noticing the point where that movement is initiated, noticing sensation as I move, then noticing when I finish moving.  What is it like for that movement or posture to be complete?  First I notice myself, then I notice what it’s like to notice.  Then I move on, very deliberately completing whatever I am doing in one moment before creating a new intention to do something different in the next.

How different is that from the way we usually move through our lives – to turn off autopilot and be present to whatever is happening now?  Do we use autopilot to numb us from our truth?  Is it easier to ignore our current circumstances than to face that they are not what we want them to be?  But if all we do is live for a future that we imagine will be better than today, won’t we miss life?

I breathe deeply to help me anchor my awareness in my present moment – the only moment I have.  I let my breath release and keep my awareness close, I keep it here with me, and together we observe life as we live it.  We notice, respond to what we notice, and we remain fluid, resilient, responsive to the truth that we find ourSelf in from moment to moment.  We don’t try to change what we find – can’t change truth – we accept truth and if it’s not what we want it to be we decide to choose differently.


Doesn’t the choice come down to this –

to use each moment, no matter how

beautiful or challenging, as a means

to open?  There is every reason in the

world to close down or careen like

a pinball from reaction to reaction,

hijacked by emotion, fear, or lack

of contact with reality.  Life is so

generous in offering ways to let

it in.  Each encounter, every act

and dream is a needle threaded

through with truth.  Feeling the

pain of penetration as the needle

breaks the skin is all that’s needed

for awakening.

(“When the Needle Breaks the Skin,” Danna Faulds,

Prayers to the Infinite (Peaceable Kingdom Books, 2004), p.60)


There is a process designed to keep us connected and living from this place of truth.  It’s called Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy and you can learn more about it at  Give yourself the present of presence this holiday season by checking our directory for a practitioner near you.  They say that we give the things we want to receive ourselves, so consider giving the present of presence to others on your list.  Gift certificates are a beautiful way to say that you care about their health, wellbeing and happiness.