Contributed by the one and only, Miss Lady Andi.
How present are you in your life, with your loved ones, with the now and with yourself? How many half-listened-to conversations, how many silent treatments, how many projections are you party to? How many dinners have you spent across the table from loved ones telling yourself stories about them rather than listening to them? How many times have you psychoanalyzed and tabled the neurosis of the ones closest to you, so close that you were privy to the shadows that lurked beneath their surface? Then how did you handle those precious gifts of true intimacy? Did you take them to heart and give them up in prayer to have them blessed and relieved of their pain and suffering? Or did you descend into judgment, criticism and control?
“My presence is a blessing.”
– Kanye West
When my sister-from-another-mister, Diana, asked me to write an article for you all, my heart blew up in joy. I felt deeply honoured, and immediately was inspired to share the Gift of Presence. It was a lofty idea at the time. As most writers can attest to, the words flow incessantly until it is actually time to sit down and write it up. Then poof, almost like magic, the mind that never, ever, ever shuts up went silent. Lol! No worries, reality decided to help me along with my writer’s block with an actual lesson in the art of being in love and deeply present with life.
This is the gist of it. I spent my entire morning originally dedicated to sitting by my desk at a gorgeous window, with tea, music playing, drinking in the snowy white vistas and writing, my vision of heaven, essentially in hell; engaged in a six hour of screaming match with my best friend. No need for the background story here, what really matters is that the entire fight consisted of us both yelling with increasing intensity and passion, “You are not listening to me, you don’t hear me.”
Some of you, well pretty much all of you (if you are honest) can raise your hands up right now and sing “Yes, Lawd, been there, done that sh*t!” You know the fights that drive you mad, as in literally crazy, because everything coming out of the other person’s mouth makes you want to scream, “ME TOO!!!”
I’ve come to know this, relationships are all fun house mirrors of our internal world. Your beloved lover, friend, boss, family member, and those lovely strangers are all bouncing back to you the quality light you are shining out or holding back, in any moment. This can be blissful or a terror, it all depends on you. Either we are flowing rapt attention and love towards one another or we are playing horror stories in our minds and projecting them forward. Think of those moments of sensual bliss wrapped in a lover’s arms versus being in the middle of a terrible fight thinking the world has gone simply mad.
So here we were, caught up in our heads, withholding love and everywhere but here and now, not present. The actual cause of the fight would have been hardly worth a mention if either one of us had been present with ourselves and the other at the time. The real problem then was a consistent cycle of lack of presence.
In the world we live in today, we are constantly tempted to evacuate our beings to think about our to-do lists, to obsess over some old slight, to intellectualize inane facts and then to go down the rabbit holes of our fears. I have been known to be flighty in my mind for as long as I can remember. I likely developed this knack when I was younger as a means to escape some harsh realities I dealt with growing up. Of course, with this Houdini trick and sleight of mind, I always had a rich inner world and imagination which I escaped to or visited to create all manner of experiences, for better or worse.
However, the art of being here and now was not always my forte. Famous for unsuccessfully multi-tasking, I piled actions over actions, always doing more and more, plotting, strategizing, visualizing. I would take on a 7 course load at school instead of the normal 4 or 5, then I would use metro rides to study. I would read e-mails while watching a movie, think of the next to-do while walking home, consider the heavier questions of life while sitting at dinner… My relationships suffered the most under this constant barrage of mental activity.
My new edge with my loved ones is to sit still with them and behold them. My favourite quote is, “My presence is a blessing.” The presents this year will be crafted by my heart rather than my credit card. This Christmas, as we usher in the new light of our collective yearly cycle, I will embody the promise of love that the Christ has come here to give, to simply BE and since we are love, then I will be-love my beloveds. This is to be able to say to my loved ones, I see you, I am here with you. I am present in the here and now. I behold you, I behold this moment, I behold this place, and most importantly, I behold ME.
“OUR DEEPEST HUMAN NEED is not material at all: Our deepest need is to be seen. We need adventure. We need meaning. We need identity. We need love. Someone who has seen us through loving eyes has awakened us from the ranks of the psychically dead.”
– Marianne Williamson
If you are like me, then yes you have made mistakes and could do better, no need to be hard on yourself. We are here to learn and expand; it is through our mistakes that we grow. I first want to start with giving myself the gift of presence to be with myself no matter what. To be aware and nurture myself when I am most likely to escape. Then I will be working on staying in the moment with my loved ones, to put down the phone and look up from the screen; to enjoy our meals without external distractions; to look deeply into their eyes and let them see the love I hold inside; to stay close when they are in pain and need me to simply be there… As I learn new ways to dive deeply into the moment, I will be sharing them with the world. For now, let me offer you an early Christmas present, here is a practice I like to call the Presence Exercise inspired by the work of Kristin Neff, in the her book “Self-Compassion, The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself.”
Happy holidays my sweets, may your quest to say Yes to Love and no, but thank you, to fear be guided by the growing light. Enjoy the gift that keeps giving of your presence in your life!
Your presence is a blessing, always remember this!
Miss Lady Andi is a professional human being/hoodoo-voodoo-juju-she-