By building my ‘presence’ muscle, my work as a facilitator and a programme leader has become paradoxically easier, when being present is far from easy. Below I share four moments where I found presence to be perfect.
I am sitting in a chair as part of a circle made up of 10 other people and I am about to speak. All my preparation for co-leading this course has led to this moment and the next one. Words of welcome tumble forth from my mouth as thoughts quietly organise themselves in a queue for the exit. My next words are in Te Reo Maori, some would say ‘that old queue jumper’ but his western colleagues are listening and holding space. “Ko Te-Tara-o-Te-Ika-a-Maui te pae maunga”. I am aware my body is made up of volcanic soil, mountain spring water, forest filtered air and solar radiation. I am aware every breathe brings me closer. I am aware of these people looking at me with their ears and listening with their eyes. I am aware and unafraid. Presence is perfect.
As I reflected on the previous week, when I consciously watched my breathing for 9 days on an Anapanasati Retreat, the mindfulness of breathing, I realised I had been transported to a place of adventure and peacefulness. I didn’t read the book as preparation. I trusted the guidance that presence is perfect. wow!
I think it was day 4 of the Art of Facilitation programme, when usually there are wobbles amongst the crowd, that my faith weakened. So I continued to breathe, noting whether it was a short breath or a long breath. Observing in this way I established mindful concentration and then I followed the next piece of sage advice, be sensitive to happiness and joy, sensitive to all you feel, sensitive to that which is creative and gladden the mind. With my mind gladdened and feeling ethically stable, I began and found there was nothing for me to do. I was baffled by presence being perfect.
I am listening, can she hear herself? Oh my how the words distract from what is really going on but don’t ask me, she knows. Her eyes are filled with pain. Bless her to trust us with this. I still don’t know what to do. She does. Watch out here come the rescuers. I swat them off as they get close. She saw them too. Wow! this is someone really taking responsibility. Being present to this is perfect.