In focusing lately on practicing presence in my daily life, I’ve been reflecting on the paradoxes of my experience.
Paying attention to my body is one way to focus myself on being present, and at the same time, my body is what makes it difficult to be present. Each morning I sit down to meditate, being with whatever arises in my body, and I notice that I feel like I have about three inches in which to breathe. I find it difficult to be with the level of discomfort that my body is at times. Of course, calling it discomfort is a subtle judgment itself, and is another layer of experience to be present with.
There have also been times in my life when every ounce of energy I had was directed towards getting enough air. Asthma would force presence; I couldn’t do anything else, not even read or watch tv. It was all I could do to breath, and breath is all there was. People have occasionally told me that I have a strong and solid presence, and I wonder sometimes if that’s why; it’s as if those times were forging presence in the fire of dis-ease.
It’s one thing to have circumstance require me to be present, another to choose to be present with the lesser but ongoing feelings of constriction, tension, and limitation. I cultivated mind, after all, because I preferred “being” there to being with the general low level of unease in my body. Choosing, moment by moment to be with whatever is happening, particularly in discomfort, is another kind of forge, a lesser heat, perhaps, but no less important for that.
Thus there’s an effort that’s required, and yet at the same time it’s also an allowing. The effort comes in keeping myself here or bringing myself back when all I want to do is leave. Then there’s dropping in to whatever is happening, and allowing it all to be there, unhindered, witnessed, felt deeply, and even, when I can manage it, surrendered to and accepted.
How do you walk the line between the effort and effortlessness of presence? What is your version of forging presence?