As I was browsing art today, I came across this beautiful photography by Nina Leen titled the Courage Test; and I thought what a great opportunity to write about the importance of presence and not hurrying – because this is what it looks like. It looks like courage. It looks like trust. It is trust.

What we miss in our world is more presence, trust and not hurrying. We often talk about the importance of presence in spirituality – but what does it really mean?

In our world today still, as a collective, function out of production based mindsets, where the constant focus is on do, do, do, achieve, achieve, achieve, go, go, go – because – a lot of our human’s identity or sense of worth is attached to what we achieve or do. It is actually extremely uncomfortable for us, mere human beings, to just sit and do nothing because then we might even find we don’t really like all of ourselves; so our way of proving ourselves to others, and perhaps subconscious to ourselves, is to do, do, do, produce, produce, produce.

This mindset can be very misleading and harmful; and it often misleads us by setting our attention primarily on endpoints and outcomes, causing us to approach the world from a quantitative lens, that’s a bit more robotic and unfortunately, eventually, detached from both our feelings and spiritual core. We measure our life by tasks accomplished, actions taken, and external output, rather than by what actually truly matters and fulfills us. Most people don’t know who they are and what they want, because they’ve become so conditioned to always focusing on the material external things and tying their sense of self worth to “producing” – it’s just really not healthy. Moreover, hurry sends a signal of fear to our body, because if we are hurrying, then that means there must be some threat or danger approaching; and then, we hurry even more to prepare ourselves because something, or the entire world, must be falling apart, so this stresses us out and destablizes our nervous system.

Every once in a while we need to pause and intentionally expand our sense of presence. You see, it is about paying attention and truly noticing. It is about trust that even if we don’t do we’ll be okay. Surely there are chores to do, responsibilities, but there is always time each day where we can be more present with ourseves and with our loved ones – when we can appreciate more. Presence is about expanding our hearts, listening to our hearts to hear its language and sweet words to us – and how can we hear if we don’t pause and pay attention to listen? The language of our heart is, and always will be, joy

Photography: 39-Courage-Test For Children, Nina Leen. 

What would happen if we unhold our hands from the wheels of control? We’ll have open palms. And with open palms, we can hold the hands of another. And life can holds us, magic can hold us, beauty can hold us, and we hold each other, and feel each other, and have an opportunity for a deepening. We share in our emotions, we listen to another, we see into their inner world and this is how we love, nurture, deepen relationships, and support one another.

In presence we learn trust, surrender, and fall into the natural rhythm of life itself, and life itself offers itself to us. It reveals its beauty, its beauty touches us, and we reveal ourselves also in front of us. We get a secret peek into who we are beneath the layers, we seek our essence. There is an old saying from my native land: “Don’t hurry too much, you’ll miss your luck, you’ll miss your soulmate too.”

When we don’t pay attention to the little steps, in the seemingly ordinary moments, pauses and non-doings, we miss so much. Because each puzzle is made of little pieces; because the movie will be non-sensical and emotionally unfulfilling if we skip to the end. If we hurry too much we’ll miss the signs and the hidden treasures. Because almost all, if not all, happens precisely in these moments of presence. This is when so much wisdom comes into being, so much beauty and magic.

The process of life isn’t about getting there faster, it’s about being there the whole time. Presence allows us to take care, pay attention and learn what love really is – how to be there, present, for another person and ourselves also. Presence allows us to see with open hearts.

Call into your mind a moment of presence when you felt a deep exalting real joy. It’s the kind of joy that bubbled up from inside of you and raised you, and suddenly all was elevated around you; it’s as if time stopped, or rather, time didn’t exist anymore because you completely forgot about it. There is a non-gravity to presence, to this kind of heart’s joy, because we basically go beyond time and skin – we enter into the soul of matter.

Peace, joy, love, and likewise, God, can only be found in the present moment, which is why nurturing the art of being present is how you find peace and joy in your precious life. It’s where the richness lives. It’s where you deepen in your love and connections to other people – your family, loved ones, partner, children.

As children presence was easy – because we were so heart connected, spirit connected. But as we grow up we absorb worries, conditioning, false identities. We begin to over-control, over-process, and it’s natural because we are just humans. As human beings we are only trying to make sense of this world and are usually aware of how little control we have, which is terrifying. So to soothe ourselves, and give ourselves some comfort or feeling of stability is this unstable thing called life, we tighten up the reigns. We are also obsessed with numbers, categories, boxes – we try to put something within some boundaries, to study it, and to “know”, so that essentially it doesn’t scare us with its unpredictability. But the truth is we’ll never know it all – because – we were never meant to know it all anyway.

As hard as it is to open our palms, we must, at least once in a while. And if we just give ourselves some time to pause, pay attention, we’ll indulge in the smell of roses, we’ll fill our hearts with the laughter of our family, which is the most beautiful sound, and we’ll just go for a walk in the park – perhaps go on the swings or walk barefeet on the cobblestone streets. And if it rains, we’ll perhaps try to let go, open our palms and dance. And if we get dirty, we’ll just clean up after at home.

We don’t push seeds into the frozen ground in winter, flowers will not grow, it is not their time yet; we’ll only hurt them, and we’ll frustrate ourselves. We need trust and patience, learning the timing of the land. There is no need to worry and hurry – it is not the time yet. When it’s time, it’s time; and all’s well, but for now, let us cultivate the garden, however it may seem right now, whatever its needs are, right now.

We focus on nurturing. Nurturing means tending to what already is. Nurturing is trust. Nurturing is presence. We tend to what is beside us, in front of us, what needs our attention, and how it needs it. This is how we deepen and this is how we learn to love also. Because love is about nurturing. We don’t analyze, we don’t control, we don’t freak out in quietness – we engage with what is in front of us. We kiss and hold and care for each other not in the way we always did, but in the way we need to right now.

We trust and we pay attention.

We offer ourselves to that what is – to the present moment – which is of course terrifying because this requires vulnerability; and vulnerability requires courage.

But in order to love, to feel freedom in our soul, and to feel real peace with ourselves, we have no other home except the present – because this is the home of our heart also. 

Ways & habits to incorporate the practice of more presence into your life:

When you speak to someone, keep your phone aside and on silent; focus on truly listening to the other person, and have dinner together with your family without the distractions of your phone.

Take walks in the nature and devote to the wonder that may unfold. Take notice of the little things, and try to see them through the childhood eyes of awe.

Take time each day for a walk. As you walk around in quiet, notice how you feel physically, emotionally and spiritually.

Every day find a common ordinary object and look at it from different perspectives. Think about what it’s made of, how it came to be, who created it and what its purpose is. This will spark your innate curiosity and wonder. 

Take a moment to check in with your loved ones, and ask how they are. While we may live under the same roof, our inner worlds change and we cannot assume we know it all about another person. Spend time re-learning, re-discovering and re-exploring one another, your needs, your dreams, and the way you may need to be cared for and tended to. Explore new things together, and have fun, share laughter – as laughter grounds us in the present moment, opens our chests and opens our hearts in freedom and togetherness without judgment nor assumptions.

At night, spend some quiet time, and perhaps even look at the sky and stars above. Ground yourself in the present moment, and see the vastness within which we live. It helps to remind ourselves of proportions and perspectives, and this keeps us humble. And what humbleness means is essentially “being of the earth”, staying grounded and knowing our proportions; and staying grounded is essentially what the presence asks of us. 

Sometimes we can get into our heads a bit too much, recycling things, replaying things, we get wrapped up in stuff, and we can get a bit too much entangled in these stuff; so it is helpful to remind ourselves of what truly matters. We are all human, and may not always act in our best, but love is love. We can have quarrels with our family etc., but at the end of the day, love is love, family is family. One of our greatest spiritual lessons in this life is that we all as human beings do the best we can each morning waking up and trying our best with whatever capacity we have within ourselves. We need to be able to shift our perspectives and know that sometimes a loved one may just be going through something within, so we need to practice compassion, and focus on the big picture, focus on what actually matters.   

For more of my writings, browse through my Art of Love.

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Featured art: 39-Courage-Test For Children, Nina Leen. All rights reserved to the artist.

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