According to Daniel Dowling, presence is your gift to the world. Use it wisely.
You’re not hearing what I’m saying. You don’t understand. That’s not what I meant. Why didn’t you do that thing I asked earlier? I feel like you don’t even hear what I’m saying. Are you even in your body?
These are things you won’t hear from anybody when you are present.
Presence is your gift to the world. You are you and you are here for a reason. Given our extraordinary capacity for thought and imagination, it’s common enough to not actually “be” in the spot that you are located. Did you see that drunken wasp with mismatched argyle socks fly past your face just then? That is because you either (A- weren’t present, or (B- weren’t tripping on LSD.
When present, you start to notice even more amazing things than aberrant wasps: you begin to notice feeling, emotion, intent, and needs. You begin to notice the gift of each moment.
To be present is to be in the moment. Present day depictions of presence might include yoga pants, people sitting in full lotus, gluten-free bread, and being alone on top of a mountain. If that isn’t your life, then don’t worry; you can still be present. Gluten-free is somewhat of a scam anyway, in my opinion.
What does presence mean for your world? I don’t own yoga pants, I can’t sit in full lotus, I’m intolerant of non-glutinous breads, and anytime I’m alone on a mountaintop I’m usually yodeling. My presence is different.
Anytime I’m engaging with people, I try to give them my undivided attention. If I’m sitting in a room on my laptop while someone passes by, I will break contact with the screen to make a human connection. A small hello, a smile, or perhaps the craziest ugly face I can muster will do, depending on the person.
A person doesn’t understand how much this little touch helps with relationships until you’ve encountered someone who refuses to break from technology to interact. It feels bad. It makes you feel unimportant and distant. I’ve been guilty of doing it, but I know how bad it feels to be on the other end, so I give my damnedest to be present to others when they’re around. If I’m busy and need time for serious work, I will remove myself from the presence of others so I can be fully immersed in my work. If I’m in a spot where I can’t be alone, I’ll let the people around me know that I’m in work flow and am not available to interact.
When it comes to your spouse or partner, this small step in mindfulness will speak volumes of how important their feelings are to you. “Your presence is a gift” might sound like something a genuine cheese-dick would say, but it’s the damned truth. People take notice when you gift yourself to them moment by moment. One word that comes to mind is charisma.
You don’t have to be the biggest cheese-dick in the room to display charisma, but you do have to be present to the thoughts and feelings of people you are with. I’ve seen demure people who were plain and reserved that had more charisma than the cheese-artists you’ll see at any given frat party. Simply being there, attuned to other’s feelings, and engaged is enough to tell anyone that you are valuable. Acting this way will let others know that you value them. In a relationship, presence is the most valuable currency you can exchange.
And so proceeds: 5 tips for massive presence in your relationships.
1) If you have to have your cell phone on you, keep it silent.
There is no single greater turnoff than a person having their head stuck up their digital ass when you want to connect with them. Your frenemies on social media can wait for you to comment on their Christopher Walken cat meme.
Your spouse, or friend, or whoever needs your attention now cannot wait. They need your human connection in this very moment. They need to know that you care, that you are aware of their feelings, that you want to be with them and that you love them. When your technology takes precedence, you are telling the person you are with the opposite of what they need to hear. You may think that isn’t the message being conveyed while dicking around on the phone, and it may not be your intent. But one thing is for sure: Actions speak louder than words.
Take this quote from Einstein:
“I fear the day that technology will surpasses our human interaction. We will have a generation of idiots.”
Can you see how freakishly accurate that statement was? Einstein was a smart man and he knew the importance of human connection. He could see the writing on the wall decades before pocket supercomputers were even imagined.
If you want to connect more deeply and meaningful with the people that you love in this moment, ditch your phone. Emails, status updates, Instatwitterbooktagram…that shit can wait. Your presence is needed now.
2) Schedule at least 15 minutes of alone time per day.
Alone time doesn’t require any yoga pants or full lotuses. The easiest way to make room for this is to keep your eyes closed when you first awake.
Use this time to get your shit together. If your shit isn’t together, then you’ll be distracted throughout the day trying to tie up loose ends. If you take 15 minutes to tie up the loose ends in your mind, your shit will be together. When your shit is together, you can focus on the moment as it unfolds through the day instead of the mess in your mind.
Clear your mind in the morning by setting your focus. What do I need to accomplish today? What didn’t I finish yesterday? What significance does cowboy Jesus riding a velociraptor hold for my life?
What is this feeling that I’m feeling? Why am I feeling this way? How can I change my thoughts to act appropriately on this feeling? How do I diffuse tension with the person who is acting like a flaming dickmonster to me? These are all good questions to ask so that you don’t have to be bothered by them throughout your day.
Another important aspect of your alone time is intention setting. What kind of human being do you want to be like today? Here are some examples from my personal file: I am fiercely independent. I am living my dream. I am attentive to others needs. I am fully present with everyone I meet today. I give myself permission to learn as much as I can and to grow in value to myself and to others. I give myself permission to be the difference maker in the lives of many others. I am humble enough to admit when I am wrong and confident enough to persist when I’m right.
This is a small sample you can elaborate on and personalize. Figuring out what you want to be is the biggest distraction of all time because when you can’t be yourself, there’s just too much to be. Setting your intentions and getting your shit together first thing in the morning will help you to be massively present all throughout the day.
3) Remind yourself of how present you are throughout the day.
If you feel yourself slipping away, pinch yourself, bitch-slap yourself if you have to, do whatever it takes to come back to the present moment. It’s easy to get wrapped in other’s bullshit drama. It’s easy to worry about loose ends you have no power to control in the present moment, but don’t let these things pull you away. You have things to do and people to please that can only be accomplished in the now.
If you remind yourself that you are present and in control of your thoughts in this moment, then your shit is automatically together. Pat yourself on the back, or toosh if you prefer, then tell yourself what a boss you are.
It may not seem like much, but it makes all the difference in the farking world. When you’re talking to your significant other and things get heated, you can either, (A-fly off the handle like a doucheball and lose the respect of your spouse along with your dignity. Or, (B-remind yourself to be present and to see where the other person is coming from without judgment. Heck, you might even muster the wherewithal to ask yourself what inside of you is responsible for how you feel toward your spouse.
This might not even seem related to sex, but I think everything is related to sex.
I guarantee your sheets will burn up if you can be massively present with your wife. Nothing is sexier than saying, “You are important to me” with your actions. Conversely, nothing will come off sleazier than saying “You’re important”, only to act incongruously. Check. Yo. Shit.
4) Plan your week with your spouse.
This one is related to your special 15 minutes of alone time, but scaled up and partnered. This is where you get “our shit” together. Figure out exactly what it is that you need to accomplish together so those niggling loose ends aren’t haunting you throughout the week.
What’s worse than nagging and bickering?
When you make a dedicated plan and look ahead to solve problems, those loose ends disappear. Voila! Now you are both more present in the week and can spend time either relaxed or, in action and making shit happen. Nagging, bickering, bitching, complaining… those are all choices. They aren’t inevitabilities in relationships, like most assume.
They are choices that take you and your spouse out of the moment. This moment, things are good. This moment, you are a human being who is deserving of respect and patience, just like your partner. Any other bullshit that you bring into the equation is false and wholly not present. If you plan your week together with your spouse, you will be more present and available for intimacy. Bottom line.
5) Kick to the hills!
This is my Tennessee miner way of saying, “go outside”. I can’t help it, my Dad is a wannabe cowboy; the vernacular rubs off. Lonesome Dove, Louis L’amour, Michael Martin Murphy, all that crap. He even says “crick” for creek. (End personal tangent).
Go outside. Our electromagnetic system is intrinsic with that of the earth. The earth puts out a certain electromagnetic frequency, as does your body. Before the technology revolution, no one thought of this and it wasn’t an issue. People’s brains and hearts and emotions were more or less harmonized with the earth. Today we have no such luck.
Everywhere we go we are bombarded by EMFs that disturb the harmonizing frequency of 7.83 Hz, also known as the Schumann Resonance. Wifi and cell towers all pump out thousands of Hz that disrupt our connection to the earth and to the moment.
My last tip on being massively present is to get outside. Ground yourself. Be among the trees and river and wild things. Reconnect with the earth. Famous thinkers from Aristotle to Gandhi have sought respite in the outdoors for inspiration. You can only be inspired in the moment. If you need to unwind from a long workweek or stressful office situation, take your hunny buns (or sugar pie, or pumpkin bread, or whatever the hell your sweet names are) for a harmonizing walk in the wild. Go camping overnight. Find your presence in the place that presence was made; in nature.
I know you are expecting a sex-gue (portmanteau of sex and segue; clever, I know), so here it is: The ancient Irish held the act of sex so sacred that they refused to do it indoors. Good vibrations were invented in nature, so it only makes sense to take the big nasty to the great outdoors. Instead of shaking your sheets, why not try shaking the damn pinecones from the treetops? Just make sure there aren’t any voyeuristic bears around to get their jollies off.
There are thousands of other ways to keep present to yourself and your loved ones. The tips I’ve mentioned are simply the most practical ones that don’t involve isolation in subterranean caves, self-flagellation, or other extreme measures. Thanks for having fun with me! Be good to yourself and to the ones you love. You are needed to be present, so don’t diminish your importance—you are a gift!
Photo: [Main Image] Sean McGrath / flickr
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photos by author