Steam rising from your morning cup of tea, birdsong in the garden, the soft warmth of a blanket thrown over your legs, a small child offering you a smile. Being present often means opening up to the beautiful things in life.
Other times, life presents tougher vistas to take in: sickness, emotional or physical pain, financial woes, getting caught in a storm, a tough crowd bearing down on you.
It’s important to take beauty and goodness in when that’s available. It nourishes and gives us strength. When life throws difficulties our way, it can seem like that’s not such a great time to be practicing presence. It can seem like a good time to be practicing not-presence.
And often, not-presence is what we go for: a click of the remote, a swipe of the phone, a rummage through the fridge, and we find something cool and delicious to distract us. But when we take this route we miss out on something.
Aligning With Truth
Being present means aligning ourselves with our truth, at least as best as we can. That doesn’t always feel so good in the moment. It’s certainly harder to see the beauty in moments when things go awry. But the beauty is there, just as much there as when everything is soft and inspiring.
Think about a time when you’ve suffered. Whether your suffering arrived through personal choices, through the actions of others, or from uncontrollable external forces, it doesn’t really matter. Think about this past version of you moving through that time, bringing all your resources to bear on a situation that may have seemed out of control. You may not have had the resources you have today, but you managed to find a way through.
When we look back on these times in our lives, we can often see the strength and beauty and courage that we were able to come up with in response to difficult circumstances. Even though we might not have seen it at the time, the beauty was always there.
Milk Crates And Scarves
I used to be a member of a Playback Theatre company. In Playback there are four actors, a musician, and a conductor. The actors each sit on a milk crate on stage as the conductor creates conversations with the audience and gets individual members up to tell stories from their lives. The audience member then assigns roles from their story to each of the four actors who then stand up and improvise a performance of that story, using only their milk crates and a few colored scarves as props.
Being a part of this group was such a life changing experience. Time after time we would see people get up and tell their stories. They were often tales of loss and adversity, of moving through great difficulties on the way to personal growth. As people told their story they often felt vulnerable, a little shy, and the conductor would help ease them through the telling of their story and sit with them as the actors played out these scenes.
Something magical was born from act of telling their story in front of a group of strangers and then watching the episode from their life played out in front of them.
Almost everyone I saw who watched their own story played out for them felt uplifted and inspired by their own journey, they all saw something in themselves that they had not seen so clearly or easily before. They saw their own strength and hope and inner resourcefulness played out in front of them, in a way that would have been difficult to access as they were caught up in the actual living out of their stories.
There’s beauty to be found in even the most difficult of times. It can just be very difficult to see that while events are unfolding. And maybe that’s not even the time to be looking for that beauty, sometimes it’s all we can do to apply ourselves to getting through our times of struggle.
The Eye Of The Storm
I’ve been writing this post for a few weeks now. A little here, a little there. Knowing there was something I wanted to say but not quite able to get there.
Then I came across this, from Matt Licata:
“In this moment, which is the only moment that is ever here, you can give yourself the gift of primordial rest. For this is the greatest act of self-love. Lay your hand on your heart. Replace the urgency of becoming with a moment of pure being. Create an inner temple in which your emotions, your sensations, and the longings of your heart can be held in sanctuary and provided safe passage.”
Those few short sentences, cover so much of what I wanted to say in this post. That even in the most difficult of times we can give ourselves the gift of presence. If we can stay present for just a moment in tough times we can access self love, sanctuary, and our desire for safe passage. And what makes this do-able is that it only requires a moment from us, “the only moment that is ever here” as Matt says.
It’s always possible to claim the smallest moments, here and there, for ourselves. We can touch base, be present for ourselves, acknowledge where we are as a way of re-orienting ourselves. The qualities that we usually discover only in hindsight are there, playing out in our story in this very moment, and accessible to us. All we need to do is to give ourselves that single moment to touch base, to rest in the eye of the storm, to become the eye of the storm.
Thank you 🙂 I needed this today.
I’m glad it was helpful for you 🙂
I try to look around, take in my surrounding and see 10 things I am happy, satisfied, blessed with. Keeps me grounded.
That’s a beautiful practice! I imagine it really would help to keep you feeling grounded, and such a great habit to already have in place when you hit a tough patch.
This is a beautiful post! I definetly need to remember to stay present, I try and take beauty in individual moments as much as I can but we often get carried into the future with all our worries and burdens!
It can be so easy to get sucked into the future, can’t it? Keep plugging away and appreciating those moments of beauty!
So inspiring! I travel a lot, and I used to visit every sights and attractions there could be, but without taking the time to appreciate them and letting them all in. Now I do better at staying in the present.
That’s so great! Traveling offers such a great opportunity to see things with fresh eyes, it’s great that you’re able to work at being in the present more. I’m sure that will make travel an even richer experience for you!
Nice article thanks for sharing.
Thanks – nice post. I need to keep this in mind much more often!
“Even though we might not have seen it at the time, the beauty was always there.” This year I’ve taken on many fears- during the year I constantly felt anxiety in those situations, but eventually I didn’t! Looking back this kind of anxiety is often actually growth:) Looking at anxiety as growth helps me tremendously in being present and actually trying to enjoy those moments rather than running away from them. Thanks so much for sharing!
That is so great to hear! I’ve also experienced a lot of crippling anxiety and know that can be a tough road. That’s the reason I first started exploring meditation and mindfulness years ago. It sounds like you’re making real progress there. Thank You for sharing!
As much as it is in the back of my mind, I still need to be reminded. I like the way it has been put “claiming moments”. It’s so true they are ours to claim and often they are overlooked.
Yes, I need to be reminded often as well. The idea of ‘claiming awareness’ feels inviting to me, which makes it less of a chore and more like a gift we give to ourselves.
What a post!Glad a I found it today!
Love this idea “even in the most difficult of times we can give ourselves the gift of presence”Definitely gonna follow..
So Inspiring…Thank you for sharing!
Thanks! I’m so glad you found the post helpful 🙂
This post really hit home for me today, especially “When we look back on these times in our lives, we can often see the strength and beauty and courage that we were able to come up with in response to difficult circumstances”.
I was talking to a friend about this the other day about how I wish I could go back to 2015-me and say “It’s alright, everything is going to be OK”. It’s so worth always looking for things to be grateful for, even when life is difficult.
I love what you say about wishing you could go back to 2015 – you. I think about my younger self a lot and send back gratitude for the sometimes scared and confused person that hung in there during difficult times. Definitely worth looking for things to be grateful for (there’s always something to be found!)
Great post! Being present and mindful is definitely something that I need to work on as well! Thanks for sharing!
Thanks! It’s definitely something we can all work on 🙂
Liked it:) once in a while reading like this inspirational post help us to be stay in present:) Thanks Dave!
I’m glad you found the post useful!
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Well put, Dave. I especially liked: “There’s beauty to be found in even the most difficult of times. It can just be very difficult to see that while events are unfolding. And maybe that’s not even the time to be looking for that beauty, sometimes it’s all we can do to apply ourselves to getting through our times of struggle.” This rings true — even if we don’t see beauty in the moment of struggle/pain, it’s reassuring to know that perhaps it will be revealed later, in retrospect. Thanks for sharing this — especially welcome today! <3
I’m so glad that resonated for you, seems like we’ve all been thrown into difficult times lately and we have to stretch a little to find the beauty. Cheers!