On our path towards our desires, dreams, and a life fully lived - the goal is presence (not joy) along the journey. Presence will summon life force and truly 'life summoning through you is what it's all about." Sometimes presence will feel ecstatic and joyful and sometimes it will feel brutal and painful. To allow both the beauty and the brutality of humanity to be felt is to be truly deeply intimate with yourself and others and is the only path I have witnessed to living a truly full(filled) life.
When we take in what is true for us, both the sweetness and the bitterness, we allow the enormity of it all to stretch us into a way of being that wasn't available to us before. We sense how beneath our cries of ecstasy and our cries of pain - we belong to ourselves, to others, and the great mystery of the universe. And this is a life lived. Truly lived.
So you may wonder, "how do I become truly present to all life has to offer?" I ask this of myself often. I have discovered that in all of our questions is an opportunity for us to go on a quest - it's literally written in the word itself. QUESTion. I have been on that quest for more than a decade now. What I have discovered - presence is like a muscle. To keep it strong and supple I must use it and stretch it everyday.
I use it when I meditate and I stretch it when I sit just a moment longer than I feel is possible - when I sit with the discomfort and learn in that moment how to be with pain and not amplify it with thought and story.
I use it when I begin my physical yoga practice and I stretch it when I practice on the days I rather not and forgive myself on the days I don't (and there have been many of those days).
I use it when I write my heart out and I stretch it when I share those writings - a piece of my heart - with the world, especially when I'm scared to share those parts of myself.
I use it when I create an event that I believe in and I stretch it as I wait and trust others will believe in it too.
And the most important thing I have learned through this question that has taken me on a life long quest - is that to consciously cultivate presence, one must start with patience. There will be days that you have none. Days that you choose 'numb' over life. Days that you run, hide, or fight your way away from feeling pain or joy (because pain may be so familiar and at least something you feel you can control). There will be those days. But in the end, your life and living it fully through presence...is a choice. One that we get to choose every moment and every day.
I'd love to know how you use & stretch the muscle of presence?
Looking for a way to cultivate presence? I invite you to join me and Author, Liza Monroy, on a journey into presence through mediation, yoga, and writing. A one day retreat this Saturday, October 8th in the breath-taking Santa Cruz Mountains.
Learn more and sign up here (only 3 spots left): http://www.ambercampion.com/writer-yogis-retreat
PS. I am extending an offer that ended Monday to you since you are part of my community. Sign up in the next 24 hours (by Wednesday night) and you will receive a special gift from me. My Yoga DVD
Patience + Presence,