Will Joel Friedman, Ph.D. is a seasoned clinician with experience working with adults, couples, families, adolescents and older children since 1976. His aim
Tom Seaver: “Hey, Yogi, what time is it?”
Yogi Berra: “You mean now?
Yogi answers accurately—it’s always “now”! Every moment of living is an unrepeatable, unique gift, as we accurately perceive and enjoy it for what it truly is. In relaxed, silent Presence innocently ask yourself: What is the felt experience right now of Awareness itself (beyond all the “stuff” and contents of awareness)? Some say Awareness is “just there,” objective and non-judgmental. Others say the Awareness is itself aware, conscious, and observant, while being silent. Awareness is sometimes described as insightful, warm, natural, relaxed, centered, spacious and oceanic. Others experience Awareness as peaceful, kind, open, all-embracing and welcoming. Awareness is at times felt as calm, joyous, curious, humorous, wondrous and enchanting. Others speak of Awareness as One with the universe-perfect, complete, whole, nothing to do, and beyond words. Each is a valid experience of Awareness that is ultimately ineffable.
When people are not here in the present, they commonly don’t know they are not present. Given this state of affairs, just how does one inhabit this moment? One strong opening to Presence is to begin noticing when you are “tuned out” and “engaged elsewhere” in your mind. The very moment of awareness of not being present is a witnessing of being “tuned out”, which immediately evokes being “tuned in” and seeing what has been missing -Presence itself. It costs you nothing to place your awareness in a non-judging observing mode, and with great kindness, honesty and compassion at that. You can ask, “What seems to block being Presence itself?” and “What is more valuable than right now?” There are many simple conduits for being in this moment. Each is not a “how to” or “of” or “about” Presence. Each is purely a direct conscious noticing of what is right in front of you and within you all the time. Presence is purely effortless awareness-literally where you place your attention moment by moment.
You can give your full attention and awareness to your breath, the slow inhale and especially the even slower exhale, to live this present moment. Carefully watching one’s natural process of breathing serves as a baseline for being present, a calibration of Presence. Observe if any particular thoughts arose in doing this. Generally, people do not experience specific thoughts. Notice any sense of time. People regularly report no particular awareness of time. Experience shows that the majority of people grossly overestimate the percentage spent in the present, meaning the “holistic present” in which all time zones (i.e., past, present and future) are all available and consciously accessible right here-and-now. Realizing that humans use less than 20 percent of their lung capacities in normal breathing, deeper breathing increases oxygenation and can greatly enhance presence. One doesn’t need to have the eyes closed with full attention on the breath to be present since you can be present anywhere doing anything.
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A great way is to ever be open to notice new things in your environment. You can offer your complete nonjudgmental consciousness to noticing your present environment-the room you are in, the movement of your body, being in nature, or the sensory experience of your body with all that arises in this moment. Notice every nuance, subtlety and detail. There are whole universes to explore and well worth our savoring within every moment of breath, sensory experience, physical movement, inner feeling, thought, intuition and inspiration. When we slow ourselves down, specifically our jumping minds, all that remains is this moment of relaxed aware presence.
Like with everything in the Absolute realm, including Truth, Sanity and Oneness, Presence has no “how to” steps to take, no techniques to perfect, and no goals to attain. Presence has no agenda, no wants, and has no-thing to do, other than simply be as it is in this moment, ever available for everyone. It is also true that in the empirical relative world one can open room, invite and welcome being Presence itself. One can bring a heartfelt intention, a passionate present-tense vision for inhabiting this moment. One can bring a powerful invocation, a clear-eyed strong declaration for being present. One can engage in active evocation, that is, an action-based, empowering commitment in bringing into port the ships you launch. Evocation is the realization of the original, evolving vision and ultimately its embodiment -a willingness to live and embrace being present.
How can one see Awareness itself when most of us are mesmerized by the contents of Awareness? There are two aspects of Awareness (even though there is only Oneness in actuality): Awareness itself that is empty, no-thing and nothing; and the contents of Awareness that is everything, full to overflowing. Author Nathan Gill distinguishes between registering (Awareness itself) and what is being registered (content of Awareness). For Gill, Awareness itself is always present, everything already being registered, but is overlooked because there isn’t any recognition of the registering itself. For most of us, Awareness itself remains unseen and inexperienced.
Awareness itself exists in a timeless, spaceless, birthless, causeless and deathless realm-absolute Reality. The content of awareness on the worldly plane is temporary and impermanent since it comes and goes, arises and diminishes, appears and disappears. Humankind holds the possibility to develop within and celebrate temporary contents of awareness, while simultaneously to perceive, elaborate, and embody Awareness itself.
The context of Awareness is Consciousness or Being or All That Is, fully conscious and present to the inner and outer environment. Awareness is not a thought about what is; awareness is that which is aware of a thought. Awareness is not a feeling or experience; awareness is that which is aware of a feeling or experience. Awareness itself is all embracing, conscious of being conscious, aware of being aware, and finds everything completely fascinating. Consciousness itself can only be conscious to itself.
Awareness itself, that which sees, is the light shinning through one’s eyes and everyone’s eyes. Prior to egoland, Awareness itself is thoughtless, timeless, spaceless, and causeless. It is the gentle, intuitive Presence as one lingers in bed upon first greeting the day. The context of Awareness cannot be seen or heard. At best, it can be pointed at through experiencing a felt sense of Awareness being aware of itself. Attune to the ground of being itself and “that which realizes,” instead of any content or “what is realized.” Pure Awareness is unconditioned, impersonal, and without viewpoint, encompassing all possible points of view as that from which everything arises.
“To be awake is to be alive. I have never yet met a man who was quite awake. How could I have looked him in the face? We must learn to reawaken and keep ourselves awake, not by mechanical aids, but by an infinite expectation of the dawn.”
—Henry David Thoreau
The context of Awareness cannot be seen in any images or vision, heard in any words or sounds and is beyond all description, prescription, definition, position and experience. At best the context of Awareness can be pointed at through experiencing a felt sense of Awareness being aware of itSelf. Pure Awareness is unconditioned, impersonal, unmovable, without viewpoint, judgment and position given it encompasses all possible points of view and is from which everything arises. Awareness itself, being aware of being aware or witnessing, lives purely in aware perception and a felt experience of this moment.
In relaxed, present silence innocently ask: What is one’s felt experience right now of Awareness itself (beyond all the contents of awareness)? Some say this Awareness is “just there,” objective, non-biased and non-judgmental. Others say the Awareness itself is aware, conscious, alert, observant, silent, quiet, present and Presence. Some report the felt sense of Awareness itself to be non-involved, detached, not knowing, matter-of-fact, okay, neutral and indifferent. Some describe this Awareness as insightful, warm, natural, centered, grounded, spacious and oceanic. Others describe this Awareness as peaceful, kind, open, spacious, all-embracing, inviting and welcoming. Some say this Awareness is calm, relaxed, joyous, interested, curious, humorous, wondrous and enchanting. Some speak of Awareness itself as One with the universe, unity, perfect, complete, whole, nothing to do, beyond words and speechless. For others it is being infinite, eternal, timeless, spaceless, causeless, birthless and deathless. It is alive, awake, free and “It is.”
The book of Kings II in the Hebrew Bible describes Immanent Divinity flowing within as “the still small voice” and “the gentle whisper” as anyone listens within through the silence. Is quiet, intuitive and inspirational voice another signpost of Awareness itself? Given Awareness itself is who one truly is, each description of the felt sense of Awareness itself correctly points to the indescribable, indefinable and ineffable True Self.
Original Nature is ever-present right where we are. In Presence, in moments of joyous exaltation and wondrous flow, no one notices worries, imperfections, uncertainties and fears. It’s amazing how accepting, relaxed, kind and forgiving we are in the Now. In fact, notice how being present could easily be 90 percent of success in anything! Call it mindfulness, wakefulness or psychology. Call it being in the zone, a state of flow, the inner game or just “came to play.” It’s all the same-giving attention to where you place attention, being aware of being aware, is the aware now and Presence.
Surely now is the moment, here is the place and you are the One-all funnels through us to evoke our awakening and embodiment. Feeling, whether joy or misery, isn’t experienced as past or future-it’s only Now! The imaginary ego is always after something, looking to get somewhere, and aiming to be someone. Ego stands at the ready to use anything to obtain some desire. So long as a continuing negotiation with reality occurs, Presence remains elusive and unattainable.
If in doing anything we purely use “be here now” as our mental mantra, while still fixated on a separate illusory self, all that occurs is stale and simplistic. If we habitually allow the illusory ego to run our lives, Original Nature remains hidden, unknown and unconscious. This is an exorbitantly high price for nothing, neither filling our soul nor embodying the fullness of our heart.
Presence is all embracing, generously welcoming everything and everyone. Heartfelt gratitude and natural generosity beaming unconditional Love may well be the clearest indicators of aware Presence. Presence is so vast and limitless, it naturally and fully acknowledges absence. Presence is absence, even as absence is presence. In Presence, everything we see through the lenses of Pure Perception is only seen as a blessing or a blessing in disguise. Vital, undivided connection with “what is” right now is experienced as deep compassionate acceptance.
Presence is a felt Awareness of inner beauty, sacred Stillness and a sanctuary of Consciousness being aware of itself. Presence is the very light shining through our eyes. Presence is an aware space of Being without any willfulness or agenda. In Presence, any other-ness, I-thought or “personal self” is absent. In Presence, anxiety, fear, and doubt naturally fade. To be calm, peaceful, completely engaged and fully relaxed reflects Presence. Presence is the space of the eternal response to true identity: “I AM.” When you bring a purity of pro-life intention coupled with a whole-bodied attention, this naturally expresses itself in a rich, resonant and welcoming Presence, like a timeless infinite embrace of the entire world moment by moment. Henry David Thoreau simply saw the obvious: “Only that day dawns to which we are awake.”
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