Yesterday I taught about the practice of presence drawing from the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh. In his book “You Are Here” he writes about the importance of being present for ourselves and for others. In the opening to the second chapter titled “The Heart of Practice” he writes, “The heart of Buddhist practice is to generate our own presence in such a way that we can touch deeply the life that is here and available in every moment. We have to be here for ourselves; we have to be here for the people we love; we have to be here for life with all its wonders. The message of our Buddhist practice is simple and clear: ‘I am here for you.'”
I am here for you. Those words are powerful. When you can’t predict exactly what someone in your life needs, being fully present is sometimes enough. In that space there is often room for openness and awakening to what’s real. There is the opportunity for meaningful exchange. There is room for knowingness, understanding, and compassion.
Hanh goes on to talk about how we get lost in thoughts, fears, anxiety, etc,. I spoke to my students about how we get lost on our phones. There is an infinite amount of distraction in the world and innumerable ways to get lost both from what’s happening on the inside emotionally and what’s happening on the outside.
Being present takes practice. Being present for self, people, your craft. Presence speaks to the quality of how you engage with your work. In meditation we sit, in writing we sit. There is an art in the act of sitting and being and observing and noting and acknowledging and allowing.
Begin with the breath.