Archive for March 7th, 2008

Green plant (c) Lynda BernhardtI have been writing about so many dark topics lately that I decided to write about something more upbeat today. I would like to talk about presence.

My therapist told me that one of my goals should be to “stay present” in my life. I was not exactly sure what that meant other than that it was the opposite of dissociating. So, I pretty much tried to ground myself whenever I got triggered. However, I did not really follow what “presence” was, probably because I had experienced it so infrequently.

After I had been healing from the child abuse for a while, I started having moments in which I felt more “here” – more present in my body. The colors around me were more vivid. I would notice the beauty of flowers when I had never even bothered to notice that there were flowers at all. I would feel like I had been teleported into my own life.

Figuring out that I was present was the only way for me to appreciate how “absent” I had been from my life. It was as if I had watched most of my life from a television screen rather than as a participant. Suddenly, I was actually in this body, and it really did matter what happened to this body because I was living in it.

When I would have these moments of presence, I would feel so peaceful. I felt as if I had spent my life with my hands raised above my head and now, for the first, was relaxing my arms. It was an amazing feeling.

I have become more and more present as I have healed. At first, it seemed to happen spontaneously, but now I know how to accomplish this myself. It comes from being aware of where I am and who I am in this very moment. I lose the feeling of presence when I allow my mind to drift to what happened or what is going to happen. I feel most present when I am using my five senses to experience this very moment.

I also feel present when I spend time out in nature. Taking a walk in a park and noticing the trees and bright blue sky is the fastest way for me to achieve presence. I am working toward presence being my norm rather than the exception, and I am making a lot of headway. It takes a lot of discipline. I have to remind myself frequently that the only moment I have is right now, so I need to enjoy this moment. My day will transition, and then I can be present in a future moment. However, for right now, all I need to focus on is my life and world around me at this very minute.

Related Topic:

Trauma Thursday: How to Teach a Traumatized Adopted Child to Live in His Body

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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