the art of presence

I’ve been wondering what our relationships, our families and the world would be like if we lived our lives truly present in the current moment.  Martial artists and spiritual sages have been teaching the concept of “presence” as the path to enlightenment for thousands of years. When we experience “presence” we experience clarity, relaxation and personal strength – we may even glimpse moments of feeling “in exactly the right place at the right time”. We become better listeners, truer to our own voice, and able to respond to stress or attack while still staying centered and focused.  Picture the martial artist who remains rooted and upright as the Ninja attacks, and imagine being able to deal with life’s blows with such dignity and elegance. But why is it so difficult to be present right here right now?

I would say that the reason is two-fold: Firstly, western individualism and fear of survival of future generations ensures that we keep focusing more on the future than on the present. And secondly, past traumas (both our own and those passed from previous generations) are often stored on a cellular level and keep us frozen, locked in or attached to past people and events.

No matter how hard we try to move beyond our past experiences mentally, they remain written in our bodies,  often keeping us frozen in perpetuating the patterns of the past.  So we find ourselves torn between past and future, and forgetting the roses, the colors, the simple pleasure of feeling the sand in our toes and the wind on our cheek – we are disembodied between the memories and dreams.

Constellations are one way of figuring out what calls us from the past to keep us looking back there. They are also a way of coming in contact with the body and practising, in a safe place, being present despite the family ninjas (from the past).  The thing is, that our bodies (with all the stress, symptoms and constriction that have helped them survive then) are often acting as if these ninjas are still present, which they are not. So, when the body comes into “presence”, it knows that it only the here and now that needs to be responded to, and… “aaaaah” it can exhale.

One Response to the art of presence

  1. Gina March 14, 2011 at 4:36 pm #

    Hi Tanja, this rings so true, this being “being torn between past and future”. I have something “calling me back” for 30 years to a particular place and time in my life. Perhaps I need to look at it closer. You can expect me one of those days.

    warm regards,


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