Are you present or do you just have presence? While they are connected there is a difference between being ‘present’ and the power of ‘presence’. Being present is to be aware of your self being aware of the here and now, often referred to as ‘present moment awareness’. PRESENCE however is what others feel when they notice your proximity without vocal or visible cues.
Someone ‘has presence’ when our attention is drawn to them for no apparent reason. It is a form of subtle attraction that doesn’t have an obvious cause. It has nothing to do with appearances. But before understanding the true nature of presence it’s perhaps useful to eliminate the kinds of presence that are not so present...so to speak!
The Beauty of Presence
Beauty has presence and, in some ways, it is presence. If there is a beautiful object in the room its beauty draws our attention towards itself. The beautiful appearance of a perfect human face and form will also turn heads and attract attention. Real beauty however, at the deepest human level, is when we are touched by the beauty of another’s being. The fundamental characteristic of the power of presence that emanates from a beautiful being is ‘radiance’; it is the radiant light of their consciousness.
The Light of Presence
As the light of a lamp radiates outwards to fill the room it will illuminate everything equally and entirely as long as there is nothing in the way. As soon as a lampshade is placed around the light, or objects are placed in the room, then the light will find obstacles to its radiant path. It will deviate and shadows will appear. Its brightness will be denied to many parts of the room.
And so it is with the radiant energy of a person whose ‘presence’ is felt. It is an invisible energy, a vibration that originates from their consciousness. Like all light the light of consciousness is designed to radiate outwards, in all directions, away from itself.
360 Degrees of Presence
When we are on the receiving end of such radiance we ‘feel’ the vibration of that energy. Sometimes we call it love; sometimes we feel a deep and profound peace, sometimes a quiet joy. Depending on our receptivity we ‘feel’ the presence of the other. Like the light bulb, the light of consciousness radiates naturally 360 degrees. Unless there is something in the way.
So what diminishes the power of our radiance? What exactly dilutes the power of our presence?
Living in the Mind
Essentially it’s our mind, or more accurately, what we put on our mind and to what extent we get lost in what is on our mind. It’s like an artist’s canvas, a screen that we can use it to generate ideas, images, concepts etc. We also use it to bring the world out there, in here! We use it to run old movies called memories. And it’s into what is on our mind that we most frequently try to escape and thereby lose our light, our radiance, our presence. Instead of using our mind we get lost in our mind. It is in our mind that we become attached to ideas, images, memories etc. And any form of attachment means the energy of our self, our consciousness, is ‘trapped in’ and ‘blocked by’ what’s on our mind.
It’s only when someone is completely free within themselves that their ‘presence’ can be felt in all directions. They have a clear inner awareness of their self, quite distinct from their mind. They are aware that mental activity/creativity is like a ‘computer program’ that we can summon up on our computer screen with a click or a slide! In an instant up comes the program on the screen that is required to perform a certain task. Similarly within the self, within our consciousness, we can summon up the ‘screen of our mind’ and use it to perform a specific task such as creating a vision, or creating a list of options to act, or juxtaposing two different ideas or concepts, or visualize the future, etc. And then, when the task is finished, we can instantly dissolve the screen, or send it into the background of our awareness.
Running Our Stories
Unfortunately most of us don’t learn how to do this. Instead we learn to keep many mental screens running in our consciousness and create the habit of jumping from one to the other. When we don’t like one we jump into another without properly closing the previous screen, without ending and closing the previous story. Or if we like one we jump into it and start to live through it, rather like watching a movie at the cinema. Or we imagine something that we are watching on our mind is being threatened, so we create even more thoughts of anxiety and worry. Or we just keep running the world ‘out there’ on the screen of our mind ‘in here’ and then lose ourselves in the lives of others. All these become inner habits that distort, defocus and diminish the radiant power of our consciousness, our self, our very being! This is what tends to dilute the power of our presence.
This is probably why the most influential ‘presence’ comes from someone who is completely undistracted by anything external or internal. While they have a ‘present moment’ attentiveness and concentration there is an obvious stillness of being. Sometimes it’s called the ‘charisma of contentment’. They never ‘react heatedly’ and are always able to generate a ‘cool response’. It appears that such a state of consciousness has the power to touch and therefore influence others well beyond the immediate vicinity and at the most subtle levels. It is also something we can all cultivate and experiment with, even in the midst of our daily distractions!
Visualize someone in your mind with whom you are currently having a difficult relationship. Don’t run your ‘relationship story’ in your mind but consciously send them calm and loving good wishes through your mind. Two things happen which are outside the remit of any ‘scientific inquiry’! First, they receive that energy which carries a higher vibrational image of them than they have of themselves in the context of your relationship with them. This is uplifting and empowering for them. Secondly you start to heal your previously dark image of them which you have created in previous encounters. This is like clearing a dark mental cloud and is a form of self healing, but that’s another seminar! Both these effects then bode well for the next actual real time face-to-face encounter with that person, making the connection and exchange of energy easier, lighter and more loving. Experiment and see if it works for you.
If you can then expand this particular effect of your ‘presence’ in one particular relationship to a more unlimited benevolence towards all others, you may get some sense of the meaning of 360 degrees of presence. It is a state where everyone and all beings in all continents are touched by the light of your consciousness from your cleanest, clearest and most powerful state. Yes it’s true, it is probably also the consciousness of a saint or an angel, but then, aren’t we all, in some sense, potential saints and angels. Aren’t we all in training, right here in the big school we call life!