What Does it Mean to Be Present?

Place of Serenity | What Does it Mean to Be Present

We have all heard of the term ‘Be Present’.

But What Does it Mean to Be Present?

It’s perhaps easier to start with recognising how most of the time you are NOT present. This is because your mind is either influenced by the past or thinking of the future. When this happens, all your thoughts and emotions push their way to the front of your mind.

You could be standing on top of a mountain, relaxing on a tropical beach or listening to someone speaking right in front of you. If your mind is elsewhere, this means that you are not present. Not only that, you bring the beliefs you have about yourself to the present moment so that it gets distorted.

An example might be that you feel anxious as you speak with someone. Your anxiety arises from past experiences and beliefs about yourself.

Perhaps you feel you are not enough of something or several things, for example, not expert enough, funny, good-looking, clever, vivacious, informed, entitled to express an opinion etc. Or maybe you are bringing your prejudices and judgments towards this person.

All these beliefs stem from past experiences. Whereas, when you can be present, these negative thoughts are no longer relevant. You can experience the ‘high-energy frequency of presence.’ (Eckhart Tolle, ‘The Power of Now’)

The Modern Human Mind

Human nature in the world we live today, places great emphasis on the mind. To be logical, ‘clever’, intelligent, witty. To compare and contrast. And get caught up in the superficial drama of greed, envy, manipulation, gossip or simply the latest story happening in your life.

Rachel Naomi Remen (‘My Grandfather’s Blessings‘), says:

We live not by choice but by grace … life itself is a blessing

So the very least we can do, then, is to be present for this life we have.

How Can You Be Present?

Place of Serenity | Bring Your Full PresenceTo bring your full presence in any situation, ground yourself by breathing deeply into your body and feeling your feet on the ground.

Come into alignment with your head, heart and abdomen.

Feel your body and whole being vibrating with life.

Soften and let go of the tension, while noticing how your body is feeling.

Listen to the silence – the spaces between someone else speaking, or your voice, or the surrounding noises.

Eckhart Tolle (‘The Power of Now‘) describes how it feels to be present:

A realm of deep stillness and peace, but also of joy and intense aliveness.

To listen to the silence, wherever you are, is an easy and direct way of becoming present … listening to the silence immediately creates stillness inside you … And what is stillness other than presence, consciousness freed from thought forms?

This Too Will Pass

It is also a challenge to be present with our difficult emotions. This could be grief, fear, anxiety or sadness. To be present with any of these emotions allows them to flow through you. 

And often, these moments of emotion pass on. They may return, but when you’re present with them, you are feeling them in a healthy way rather than squashing or numbing with behaviours like running away, drinking alcohol, eating or exercising mindlessly.

The key to practising being present is to notice whenever you possibly can what your mind is doing. You become a witness to ‘your thoughts, emotions and reactions.’

~ Eckhart Tolle, ‘A New Earth

The Ego Has Landed

Instead of becoming a victim where you are caught up with thinking how terrible things happen to you and people have done bad things to you, it is possible to wake up from this viewpoint. Again, Eckhart Tolle in ‘A New Earth‘, describes:

The ego is the unobserved mind …the ego could be defined simply … as a dysfunctional relationship with the present moment … The decision to make the present moment into your friend is the end of the ego.

The Present Moment

Place of Serenity | Centre yourselfAnd so to be present you relax into acceptance and acknowledgment for what is happening in the present moment. This can be pleasant, for example, moments when you stop to enjoy nature or be with friends or loved ones.

It can be when you centre yourself and focus on your breath, perhaps sitting for ten minutes quietly. You may experience the Zen term ‘Satori’ which means ‘a moment of presence’. In this stillness you may experience your own essence and the aliveness emanates from you. You feel on top of the world!

You can also be present when things around you are chaotic or even dangerous. By centring into your true self, you are the self-sovereign leader of your responses. Whatever dramatic state might be happening around you, you can be present with a profound sense of calm and inner strength.

The Vibrations of Stillness and Peace

As you bring your presence more frequently into your life, the vibrations of stillness and peace vibrate from you. And you might recognise similar vibrations from others who are present too.

We all have the capacity to be present. It’s a challenge, but also, it leads you towards feeling more alive and in control of your life. It can mean you become more of the person you want to be, your best self, your higher self.

Being present has a huge impact on your relationships. And as the outside world reflects your inside, so you experience moments of sheer magic.

Be still, and as Mary Oliver describes (in her poem, ‘It Was Early’):

Sometimes I need
   only to stand
      wherever I am
         to be blessed.


Excellent reads if you want to understand how to be more present in your life:

The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle

Blog posts from the archives:

Meditate for Vibrant Serenity
Keep Calm and Be Mindful
You are Powerful in this Present Moment
In Each Moment You Always Have Power
Stay Calm and Centred


Yvette Jane

Place of Serenity | Place of Serenity







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