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Posts Tagged ‘feeling present’

Feeling Present

What does it mean to feel present? It is hard for me to define it, but it is amazing when I feel it. I still remember the first time I felt present. I was at a park watching my son play on the playground equipment. I felt at peace. The colors around me were vivid, and all felt right with the world. I felt like I had always watched my life from a distance, but, at this moment, I had been “beamed” into my life and was actually experiencing it. I had never felt anything quite like it.

That moment of presence did not last long, and I wasn’t quite sure what it had been once it was over. While it felt peaceful, peace was not really the word for it. It took experiencing it a few more times to get what was going on. It felt like I was finally putting my arms down after holding them up over my head for decades.

I have been thinking about presence a lot because I spent the day yesterday moving in and out of being present. It was amazing. The colors around me were vivid, and I noticed and appreciated things that typically would not even catch my attention. I felt like I was a part of this world, and the world around me was filled with so much beauty. The best way to describe this is feeling “zen.”

I do not yet know how to “make” myself feel present. I have some tools that help, but I cannot yet simply choose to “be present.” I have to silence my mind and not think about the past or future. It helps to focus upon what is around me and appreciate its beauty. These things help, but I still don’t have the ability to “be present” like turning a light switch on or off. Right now, I am just trying to enjoy the beauty of presence while it lasts.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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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.

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

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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