In a dream I had recently, I was given a key. Someone handed it to me as an answer to a question. Some of the details have faded, but the gist of it was I needed some help with something and didn’t know how to proceed. I stood there in a questioning state, wondering what to do next, and a key was handed to me. I asked, what is the key for? The answer arose immediately as a knowing in my dream-self – it was the key to Presence. And how and where would I use the key? Same answer – Presence. I stood there in a state of wonderment, and then I awoke with a start. The felt sense upon awakening was that something important had been revealed to me, something that I wanted to remember. Presence was both the way and the goal, the means and the fruit.
I have reflected much on this since that dream; it was so simple that it was a bit of un-doing for my thinking mind. In body-mind practices such as Yoga and meditation, presence is the point, yes, but an ever-deepening understanding of what presence is has been unfolding for me, and my dream highlighted it. Presence is not a concept or something we can do with our brain; we can make the intent to be present, but the actual experience is somatic, inclusive of the whole body. Presence is made of attention, sensation and breath – a full and direct experience of the moment. I know when I am present because I am aware of how and what I feel and sense, as well as the thought process happening – I know where my feet are. Ok, great, so here and now, fine…but it is not one-dimensional. Presence in the body gives me access to my reason and intuition yes, but also to the energetic reality around me. The practice of presence tunes the physiology of perception. We are always immersed in the natural world of energetic impressions, and if I am present, I may just notice some of them.
To be present is to listen. Yes, to others, and what is going on around us, but to also to our body’s constant natural biofeedback system – our barometer, our compass. To be present is to be tuned-in, and response-able to respond with right action to what is arising in each moment. If we aren’t present, then the only thing we can do is react from an automatic or learned conditioning. That sometimes works just fine, and sometimes it doesn’t at all. Grounded in presence, we can respond from a place that is authentic, creative, loving, fresh – right action that is directly related to the need of the moment. Reflecting on this, I have come to understand my dream more deeply. Right here is where it is all going on. There is no formula for right action – it is right because it is a true response to the moment, in relationship to the moment. We can only do that, be that, with our wholehearted whole bodied self.
Simple, yes, easy, not so much. But it is a practice well worth the devoted effort. I have discovered it takes courage to be present fully, to relinquish the fascination for the time-traveling mental narrative. It takes trust to remember that if we really give ourselves to this moment, it will show us the way. We may not see far ahead, but we can be here in our feet and take the next step. Presence is like a prayer… and where all the magic begins.