How To Stay Present
How To Stay Present
(short excerpt from weekend workshop ‘Pure Awareness & the Power of Knowing’ –enjoy!)
Over the next months the complete article will be available here
Part 1 – May
The fourth dynamic is avoiding being present. There are several ways in which we do this. This is a nice catch all-dynamic. It includes every possible way that we can think of, of avoiding being present. What do we get to do when we’re present? Feel. That’s right. That’s what’s there to do. What we experience when we are present is our senses are in contact with the object of experience even if that’s an emotional energy in us. That emotional energy in us is the object of experience sometimes. So, when this dynamic is present we tend to get lost to stories that we make up about our experiences. When we’re wrapped up in the story, then we’re to busy being up here to experience what’s there to be experienced in the moment. Make sense?
The experiences themselves, the avoiding the present, is the primary technique that we use to not feel. The ignoring our intuition and the being judgmental are versions of not being friendly. We can definitely look at that, that way. Present complete present. If your totally present to something how can you, judge it? You’re not separate from it. What happens when you’re present is you are one with whatever is there. There’s no judgment. There’s no lack of trusting your intuition. There’s no not feeling. That’s all there is to do in the present is feel. So often, we become so absorbed in it and then find that the stories that we begin to feel that they are real. We life inside of them. I’m sure you know people who are depressed. Depression is basically living inside of an emotionally charged story. That’s all it is. Same for anxious people. Depressed is when you’re wrapped up in stories about the past. Anxious is when your wrapped up in stories about the future. Very simple.
We make ourselves victims not of what happened to us but to the stories that we have become dedicated to about the events. See what I was starting to talk about earlier, there is a distinction between events and the stories we make up about them. What’s the distinction? The events are long gone. It’s the stories that persist. Where do those stories exist? No place else, except for maybe the charge in the body that holds them in place. The issues are in the tissues. I like that. So, this dynamic is based on the habit of avoiding being present. The illusion or fear that being present will be difficult or impossible. I can’t deal with it. Okay. Expressions of this dynamic.
Part 2 – June
Getting lost in the grip of emotions. Sometimes being so wrapped up in an emotional state like depression or anxiety or just being always angry or whatever, sometimes that’s an escape in itself from dealing with the real feelings that need to be felt. You know what I’m talking about? You’ve all observed people like that? Where they are just kind in it like somebody that’s constantly complaining, irritated, what are they doing? They are avoiding feeling something. It’s just sometimes we use being in the grip of emotions as a way of not being present to what really needs to be felt. It’s like there is a much more important or deeper issue that needs to be felt.
Getting absorbed in stories about the past and/or future. One of the forms this takes is projecting possible negative outcomes onto the future. We call that worrying. Right? Predicting possible negative outcomes on the future. Why would we do that? What’s the point? We’re trying to make some rudimental kind of way of controlling the future or being right.
It’s an avoidance of being present to the feelings that are present now. At the same time, it’s an attempt to also avoid the near future.
Getting lost to addictive behavior. We’ve already talked about. Having databases unresolved emotions. One of the thing that’s a basis of addictive behavior and one of the principle things that you’ll find when your working with this issue of avoiding the present, is that the reason the person is avoiding the present is because what’s about to be experienced for them in the present is the unresolved issues of the past. What’s being held inside is as you’ve seen all these things for unresolved energy. We’re holding onto them. Now if we settle down enough to be present to it, what would happen? Oh, my god. Either we don’t want to go there or I’ll just be involved in this story or involved in this emotion. I’ll just overeat over here so I don’t have to feel it or whatever the drug of choice happened to be, the behavior of choice happened to be that keeps us from being present.
If you’re just quiet, enough for long enough that thing is going to force itself to the surface to be healed. The body wants to purge it out of you. It’s unnatural to be holding onto that inner conflict. The body wants to be free of that. Given any opportunity the slightest moment to file some quietness and whoosh its going to come up. Just a little bit of being relaxed and whoosh its right there. If you have a huge database of painful unresolved experiences you can’t even afford to be quiet for a minute. They are going to be right there in your awareness and if you are operating out of the old operating system of, I can’t go there. I can’t feel that. I’m going to get overwhelmed. Then your going to do everything possible to avoid being present in this moment. This is very huge. This dynamic is huge. It is pervasive. It’s huge.
So, when you start allowing yourself to be present, we already talked about it what do you have to do? You get to feel what’s there but the most common thing that’s going to be there, its not some new event that’s causing some triggering of a new emotional overwhelm. It’s going to be mainly the baggage of the past that’s unresolved. The body wanting to be free of that. Wanting to have it be purged from you. What’s needed in order to purge it? Is awareness. That’s exactly right. It’s allowing yourself to gently and maybe gradually start deleting those database files. There are two ways do it. There’s the slow methodical way which is the feeling every one of them.
Then there’s the way you’re going to see in about half an hour, which is where we just put the whole thing in the recycle bin and hit delete. Very elegant, powerful way of speeding this process up expediently. Sounds nice. So in this particular case what we want to do is we want to recognize when this dynamic is absent. We feel I can experience emotions fully but without getting lost to them. Fully present to it but not lost to it such that we don’t feel whatever else is there to be felt. I live in the wonder and delight of uncertainty.
When you’re in the presence, you don’t know what’s going to happen. There’s no illusion of being in control. We are not in control folks. When you make the shift from the terror of uncertainty to the wonder and delight of uncertainty, your whole life gets transformed.
There is only one way to be able to do that and that is to be willing to be fully present to feel whatever comes up. Otherwise, you’re terrified of whatever might come up. I can stand in the wonder and delight of uncertainty is a major upgrade over standing in the terror of uncertainty. Standing in the terror of uncertainty is I don’t want to feel all those possible things that are going to come up. Were as standing in the wonder and delight of uncertainty is like wow, what’s next. Totally different.
All it takes is a full activation of the willingness to utilize your innate capacity to feel that you all ready have. Its just completely un-utilized. Deep habits of not utilizing it that’s all that is. That’s why we’re spending the whole day. The whole day on learning how to feel. That’s all this is about today. Just learning how to feel. Just learning how to access your capacity to feel. God what a gift we have this huge incredible computer. It can process anything. We actually have unbounded capacity to feel because we are the universe. The only limit is physical limitations of the hardware and those are pretty amazing. It’s mostly software problems that keep us from being able to feel.
Therefore, when this is absent I easily face and feel fully anything from the past that may come up in the present. This is the biggie. This is the one that mainly keeps people out of presents. Is the fear of having to feel those unresolved feelings from the past. Here’s what it looks like when you’re avoiding the present. Isn’t that a great graphic? It says going off into nowhere land. When this dynamic is absent, we feel I live completely in the present moment. So how do you avoid the present? Anybody.
So these are the kinds of questions that help in accessing the feeling. Do you feel like you are typically fully present living in the moment? Does it feel uncomfortable to stay present to the feelings that show up if you are really present and in the now? What do you do instead of staying present? Do you fantasize about the future? Do you think about the past often? Do you use some behavior to avoid feeling things when the feelings become uncomfortable? That’s exactly what we were just doing.
Part 3 – December
Would you like to have a more effective way of dealing with discomfort so that you could more easily stay present? These are some of the kinds of questions that obviously we went much deeper then that in the questions we did with Amy. This is a good example of how occasionally you have to be a little persistent in digging around down there in the file directory pathways to find the bugs. The bug files. However, it is always going to be some form of not wanting to feel something. This is an unresolved feeling from the past. Very much in the past like from infancy. We’ll go more in detail how/where this one comes from. This fear of abandonment or being alone, it’s very, very pervasive almost universal fear that pretty much all of us have. It’s incredible when you start to come out of it. Absolutely incredible.
What it does to your sense of self-sufficiency and independence. Autonomy. Incredible. This becomes the foundation of truly successful and extraordinary relationships. When you don’t need them anymore, that’s when you really get to enjoy them. One of those wonderful dichotomies. Doesn’t mean you don’t enjoy them. You do far more then you ever did before. Before you were just ooh, I need it. The other person is over there going yuck. You know what it’s like when someone’s needy. It’s a taking, the energy is taking. Yuck. Nobody likes it. Kind of like you have a needy partner so you don’t want to be one either. Therefore, we are going to do the practice in pairs. Get our little ten-minute things in so we finish this up. We want to have the person who’s going to be the client is someone who indicates through their description of what is happening in their lives that they are avoiding the present.
Start the discussing by exploring the ways in which they are avoiding the present.
What are they doing to avoid the present? Which type of present avoidance techniques are they using? Use the questions back here to help bring the person in touch with the charge of feelings that they are avoiding by not being present. Guide them through feeling until they have felt it so thoroughly there is nothing left to feel. We’ll often be after resolving the energy of the feeling that they will more easily be able to easily see how they have been leaving the present to avoid the discomfort of those unresolved feelings. Is that clear to you now? Absolutely. Very good.
Point out to them that they can use this technique anytime to feel something fully and stay present. So anytime, you feel like you’re procrastinating or reaching for the food. All these different kind of things we’ve been talking about. In the moment when you begin to do that, that’s the moment to stop and check it out. What is this that I’m trying to avoid here? Very, very powerful thing to do. Now you have the technique for resolving and actually fully feeling that thing that you have been avoiding. Then no problem. Resolve it and then bring yourself back to the state of peace.
That’s totally fine. But this is your background of experience is such that you feel because there has been lots and lots of things you’ve had to feel that oh, I’ll just have to do this forever. However, you see that if you’re standing on the side of this of being afraid of feeling things then this is a problem. However, if your standing on the side of this which is bring it on, I’ll just feel whatever is there. Then its not that you have to be feeling to the core of the feeling of everything all the time it’s just that life is rich and full of flavor and experience and richness of feeling everything. What’s wrong with that? That’s called being alive. You see.
If you have to do for a while, feeling into the core of stuff, just to get the hang of hanging out in this place called feeling things, okay big deal. Why not invest that for a few hours, or days, or weeks, or even months, or even years if it liberates you from the total avoidance of life. Wouldn’t be worth it? Yeah. It’s kind of a no-brainer.
You have a Meta fear. The fear is oh my god I’m going to have to do this forever. Feel into that one, resolve that one. You’ll have no that’s not true it’s just a story you’re making up. It’s just a story. Doesn’t matter if it’s had some basis in it, you’ve been doing this all day. That’s why you’re here to learn how to do it. That’s why we are doing it all day. We are doing it all day so you can get good at it. Once you get good at it, it’s like shoo. When you get that good at it shoo, bring it on. No problem. You okay. Okay good.
So what we are going to do is we are going to break into the last group of pair practice and you want to follow basically this procedure. It’s exactly the same thing. This one is sometimes not necessarily as tricky as the one we did with Amy where we really had to dig it out. Whatever is appropriate. Each one of these is giving you another opportunity to see how you connect with these things that we’ve been avoiding.
The whole day is educating you, experientially in how to feel. I don’t know a greater gift I could give you then this today. Going to feel that fully. Wow. This is giving you yourself back. And living fully present to this now moment of our life.
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Tom Stone internationally acclaimed coach and speaker.
Author of several books including Pure Awareness and The Power of How.