A new presence question

How will I bring my presence to life today?

I’ve been asking myself this question every day for two years.

Most days, I completely forget to even BE present, much less be my presence. In the evenings, I flip open my laptop and see those words staring back at me.

I ask myself: How did I bring my presence to life today?

Generally, the answer is something along the lines of “badly,” “sorta,” and “what presence?”

I’ve experimented with methods to remind myself to be more present, to be my presence. Some of them actually worked. Now, when I am with another person, I am reminded to be as completely present with that person as possible. When I am alone, I can be perfectly present with the task at hand.

So I can be more PRESENT in my life, but still do not feel I am bringing my true PRESENCE to life. Who am I underneath these 50-odd years of human history and conditioning? Who is this presence who came to learn the lessons of this lifetime?

I took my question to a shamanic workshop given by Robin Rice . In one day I travelled through “Five Layers and Levels Of Shamanic Dreaming.” I never knew sitting down and closing my eyes could be so much work.

I took my question into journeys. Interrogating my normal process for dealing with this question made me dizzy. I asked Mother Earth if I had her blessing to work on this question (there might have been an earthquake she was laughing so hard). When I visited the Star People high in the universe to get a broader perspective of my question, I clearly saw my lack of focus and heard the message that focus is my task. I visited my ancestors who told me I had chosen this life to deal with my presence and everything I need is within me – that I already am my true presence and I just have to get out of my own way.

This might sound useful, but it only brought up more questions: How am I in my own way? Is there any part that is not in my way? How can I get out of my own way?

I travelled to the mythic realms and learned to lay down my sword at the feet of a dragon in hot pursuit of my mortal life. Believe it or not, that clear metaphor escaped me.

More journeys resulted in fingers pointing directly back at me. Near the end of the workshop, I feel I am still no closer to the answer of my question of how to bring my presence to life.

Our group formed partnerships where we each had to find another person with the same question. My partner was this amazing young woman whose open honesty and revealing vulnerability was a safe haven for my own perplexed being. Her question was: How could she joyfully embrace who she is now?

We had the same question. Her question is my answer. Her question is my “how.”

As my ancestors instructed me, I already am my true presence. It is who I am now. I just need to quit struggling with myself (lay down my sword) in being my true presence. How can I do that and get out of my own way? By joyfully embracing and nurturing my presence each day.

To joyfully embrace my presence means to know that I am eternal, trust my wisdom, and accept that I am okay no matter what is going on around me. To nurture my presence is to engage in life in a way that feeds my soul, my spirit, whatever name I might give to the living presence inside this body.

Viktor Frankl is a teacher of mine. In his book Man’s Search for Meaning, he found a way to embrace and nurture himself while enduring the atrocities of Auschwitz and other Nazi prison camps. His survival depended upon it. One of the lessons that I learned is that I need to embrace and nurture my presence in each moment regardless of my circumstances or the circumstances of others.

I get it.

©2010 by Barbara L. Kass

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14 Responses to “A new presence question”

  1. passionatepresence Says:

    Hi Barbara,

    This part you wrote was key for me…

    “As my ancestors instructed me, I already am my true presence. It is who I am now. I just need to quit struggling with myself (lay down my sword) in being my true presence.”

    Then you say…

    “How can I do that and get out of my own way? By joyfully embracing and nurturing my presence each day. ”

    What you wrote in the sentence above is what I thought I had to do for years. It didn’t work. The question is a good one. Answering my own questions kept me stuck in a loop…. for years. Good to be reminded of that in this moment.

    First of all, answering these questions from my own head means the answer comes from the known. My awakening experiences were a total surprise for me. They did not come from my efforts until I threw out all my efforts to “understand”. I didn’t know. I don’t know. And the mystery of presence is still a mystery. I receive it. It is a more receptivity than a grasping I found.

    Staying with what is happening now. Being with it. Then presence teaches based on what is seen in that moment. Turning the flashlight of attention to the inside like you did with the Shaman course only every moment. Not some dead knowledge filed in the memory. Life is dynamic. Jan Frazier really helped me with this and boiled it down to the most fundamental in this post.


    We are conditioned and taught to know… to solve. Beginner’s mind is key here. Knowing mind is an attempt to control, to know. Honestly, look around at the world and see how well that is working.

    Secondly, I found it is as you say in your first sentence. You are presence. Or better yet presence is Barbaraing. The only thing present is presence presencing. There is no such thing as nonpresence. What some people call nonpressence, I call “not attending to” as in a personal effort to attend to someone or something. Presence is here and the world appears effortlessly. Without presence nothing appears. You are presence. There is only one thing. We are the costumes presence wears in the world of appearances.

    I don’t want to ramble. Just a short sharing. That is my deepest for your consideration. Please don’t trust me on this. It can only be experienced in the moment and the teacher is presence. These words are already dead.

    Lots of Love,

    • Barbara Kass Says:

      good morning, Ben. I read Jan Frazier’s post and followed the logic (both mental and emotional) just fine. Thank you for sending the link. It is a very clear teaching post. I especially connected with the turth that “The thoughts have resulted in the emotions.” And even while reading the entire post, I could feel me slip into the future, worried about how I was going to respond to the moment if I didn’t follow my usual “modus operandi” and that, indeed, is one of a thousand ways I get in my own way. Allowing presence to teach me in that moment is new, strange, and deliciously appealing — so very nurturing.

      Thank you for sharing your experience with presence as a receiving rather than a reaching. Again, it speaks to getting out of my own way and allowing the life moment to occur as it will inside me. Trust plays a big part — I feel my protective self want to move in and shield me because I was programmed that I should already know the “right” response to all interaction. More lessons on my eternal path.

      • passionatepresence Says:

        Here is an example of how this teaching helped me. It is very telling.

        I was at friend’s house. Some of the ladies were in the kitchen baking cookies and drinking some wine.

        I was leaving and I just bopped in the kitchen to bid everyone a fond farwell. I can be kind of bouncy at times (not always). One lady looked at me and told me I sound very insincere. The comment totally caught me off guard. I said Really? She said Yes!

        I told her I am sorry you interpreted it that way, I meant it sincerely. I started feeling really strange after that exchange. Some feeling very primary was starting rise up… I will say even primal was rising up in me. I couldn’t tell what was going on, but something was brewing within.

        I left to go wash the car and then home. I noticed how startled I was from the comment. I noticed how I started to feel like I had been attacked. I would label these as very primitive feelings. From there, anger arose within me, and then a cascading diatribe of thoughts judging her and taking issue with who she is and what she was doing. They were very judgmental, unkind, and mean thoughts. I just sat there and let it burn within me for about an hour or so while they raged on.

        I didn’t try to fix it. I didn’t come up with a self-improvement project. I didn’t chastise myself for not being spiritual. I just watched how that very primal and primary feeling expanded into an explosion of emotions, judgments, and stories.

        After a time it perfectly resolved itself in presence. I was fine again. I didn’t lift a finger. Also, it was humbling. I thought well now. I am just like her. Look what went on inside me. Imagine what would have happened if you would have acted on that like you have in the past. I can easily see how there is greed, war, conflict, power grabbing etc. These survival instincts are very strong!!! Also, they are not true. My life was not in danger for 1 second. What she said had nothing to do with me, and yet I reacted inside like it did. This is how suffering is created. I have looked outside myself for validation from the world, and it isn’t always going to be there.

        Presence was there the whole way…. teaching! It was totally stable, clear, and insightful despite everything going on inside. It was here the whole way.

        Now that may not match some spiritualized ideal, but it showed me presence is here through all, and it will provide clarity and learning if I will allow it.

        So just the seeing. Not trying to see or practicing how to see, or anything. Just allowing what is… to surface.

        That is about as real as I can get on how much that teaching meant to me. A LOT!

        • Barbara Kass Says:

          Oh, my, Ben. Even while I was reading this, I felt my righteousness assert itself and want to go on a rampage. I immediately took your side and even wanted to defend you! This lesson reminds me of don Miguel Ruiz’s book, The Four Agreements. One of the agreements is “don’t take anything personally” — how people behave is all about them, not about me. There is something primitive about the reaction you describe . . . and that woman only used words as her “weapon” — I have felt the same type of reaction.

  2. passionatepresence Says:

    Whoops! I almost forgot.

    One thing that a friend helped me with lately. This isn’t personal. There is nothing personal about this. “You” or in this case “Me” will never get IT.

    Just wanted to add that finer point. A lot of liberation in that one.


    • Barbara Kass Says:

      Interesting, I got the phrase “life is living me” when I took in the idea that existence is not personal.

      • passionatepresence Says:

        Yes Barbara! I love how you put that. That is a divine reception.
        Presence, I am learning has its own clear alert intelligence.

        You just demonstrated how it communicates through us with clarity. It provides clarity that is so fundamental, I can feel in my bones. This clarity provides great benefits to us and those around us. It is our original innate presence communicating its wisdom. Trusting it and allowing that intelligence to speak through me is what I am learning.

        Thank you!

  3. holessence Says:

    Barbara – I really, really like the distinction you make when you say, “…BE present, much less be my presence.”

    And I resonate strongly (ZING!) with your statement, “I already am my true presence and I just have to get out of my own way.”

    A great way to start my week – THANK YOU!

  4. jeffstroud Says:

    Is it presence or consciousness that we are seeking? Being in the moment, Being.
    Neale Donald Walsch in Book 1 of Conversations with God ask “What are you Being while doing? ”

    Laurie in Life Harmony program states Mindfulness is our capacity to be fully present in our own life; to be more fully aware of what we are doing as we are doing it.” Later she states “Being in the present moment creates a certain stillness… it creates a stillness — an awareness — in our mind.”

    As humans dancing with out ego and spirit we are always going to have these questions, questions are good, questions keep us looking or searching, yet do they allow us to stay present?

    Great wisdom Barbara, I am glad I read this this morning!

    I am Love, Jeff

    • Barbara Kass Says:

      Oh, my, Jeff . . . I think I may live for questions! It is my self-inquiry system, a check and balance that I am not being mindless. I had not thought whether it is consciousness or presence, if those are the same to me or different . . .

      more to ponder . . .

  5. sandiwhite Says:

    ” I yam what I yam, and that’s all that I yam, I’m Popeye the Sailor Man!” Now there’s a guy who really is comfortable in his own skin.

    Sure, we all have to find our own ways, some suffer more than most, but I have a feeling we’ll all get there in Time.

    • Barbara Kass Says:

      Hi, Sandi – Popeye is defintely a character after my own heart. He walked around muttering to himself all the time. I know that as I discover more of who I yam, life is much richer and meaningful.

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