Time for another guest blog, this time from Graeme Green of The Mindful Horse who explores the value of being present. Graeme teaches presence and embodiment, wellbeing and mindfulness across various personal and professional locations, including onsite with the Athena herd.
THE ART OF BEING
Actors say that one should never work with small children and animals. Why so? Well there is congruence and honesty about them. There is no act or pretence. And this establishes a presence, which we all intuitively recognise, and subconsciously we gravitate to that.
As adults too often our presence is lost, as we are consumed in tasks, (relative) status and function.
Presence facilitates relationships, when someone is present with us we have their attention, we are connected, we feel acknowledged and valued. When someone with great presence enters our space they shift the energy, they light up the room. Our attention is naturally drawn to them.
But what does being present mean?
Our modern lives and work bombards us with distractions. Demands on our attention. Phones. Email. Social media. You name it. Submitting to the distractions draws us away from the present. Our attention ceases to be in the same place as our bodies. Mind dislocates from our bodies.
Throughout most of the human journeys we have been active – whether seeking shelter or food, or communal activities such music or dance. Now we are passive or at best sedentary. Our entertainment is external, often projected before us; our work facilitated by technology, be it scanning bar codes or constructing and completing complex spreadsheets. Our minds might be busy but our bodies most certainly are not. But we have not evolved to be like this.
Somatic learning acknowledges an equal contribution from minds and bodies. Like all mammals we are hardwired to move. Sustained immobility is a stressor.
These days though, we have to create special time for that, for the gym or for a morning run. We do not need the intensity, we just need to be active. 20 minutes walking for example is enough to strengthen our memory creating capacity.
And when we move we engage a more holistic consciousness. When we move we connect with space and place. We are present. Our mind might wander sometimes, but where we go is where we are, and so we need to invite it back.
To be present for others we must first be present for ourselves. We must be in our bodies. We must notice when we have been drawn away and find the means to bring ourselves back, to ground and centre ourselves within our being,
How do we establish presence?
The Art of BEING is about learning to recognise our distractions, or at least to effectively recognise when we have been distracted. To notice that our attention is no longer where we intended it to be.
It is not so much about fighting the distractions, but knowing they occur, recognising them and then returning our attention to where we intended it to be. Sometimes through our breath. Sometimes resting quietly back in my own physicality. Sometimes through a sensory moment, stopping to touch and really feel, or to focus on a sounds around us. Simple tools that facilitate a stillness within us. Simple tools that we carry with us at all times.
The Art of BEING shines a light on awareness of our own presence. It offers different ways and means of returning. In this work we create a safe and non-judgemental space to experiment and explore.