How many times have you sat with someone and although they are right there with you and have said nothing you can feel the detachment? Perhaps you said or thought, “You are a million miles away.”
How often have you been having a conversation with someone but their head is on a swivel. Your brain is screaming “I’m right here!” but they aren’t right there, even though it’s to you that they are speaking. They’re looking for the next opportunity or a bigger fish or an excuse to escape this uncomfortable conversation. Conventions and trade shows are particularly rife with this lack of presence.
And then there’s this…. Have you been alone in the quiet and even then unable to feel ‘present’? Your mind is a million miles away and the uncomfortable conversation you can’t escape is the chatter of your own conflicted thoughts.
During the 7 weeks I spent in an ICU I discovered the power of presence in a way that I never before understood. I have been keenly attuned to it ever since. Unable to move or speak, I would open my eyes to see a member of my family and in that moment I was fully present with them. All of the energy and attention I could muster I directed to them to say “I’m here. I’m scared, but I’m still here.” Everything in me was focused on being alive in that moment.
I could feel their full presence also without words exchanged or even eye contact. I experienced my husband simply sitting with me with every ounce of his energy focused on me. Sure he looked at the machines or talked to nurses but he was fully present with me. And we were all fully present with God. We begged for the presence of the divine and were rewarded with power and peace in a way none of us had previously ever experienced. I drank in the miracle of all this presence like the waters of life.
You don’t need to experience massive tragedy to understand presence. Take a moment to think through the past week, or month, or years. When was the last time you experienced someone fully present with you? When was the last time you gave someone the gift of your presence? And when did you last ask for spiritual presence in any given moment? If you can picture it well, I bet it makes you smile.
Presence forges a connection outside of the ordinary. In a relationship it makes all the difference in the world. it is the difference between life and death. I don’t mean the difference between heartbeat and no heartbeat; I mean the difference between viable and not viable. Giving or receiving undivided attention and compassionate focus opens a relationship as surely as a spring flower after a soft rain. That relationship becomes viable.
The next time you are with a family member, friend, client, or alone with your spinning thoughts – slow down, take a breath, focus all of your energy and attention to BE fully in that moment. Set aside your overrated multi-tasking ways and allow the power of presence to work miracles in that moment.