The Practice of Choosing Presence
We will start our day with the practice of presence and bring in stillness. This is our foundation, and we will keep coming back to it throughout the day. Begin each day with this exercise in a quiet and comfortable place, if possible, either sitting on the floor or in a chair, but always with your back straight. Aim to work up to fifteen or twenty minutes of practice. There are very specific reasons why we practice presence the way we do. For example, we put our hand over our heart to release a calming hormone called oxytocin. Our experience is that it makes access to stillness easier and deeper. The way we take our breath is very important. And even more important is our intention. Our core intention is always to connect with our vibrant inner life.
- Sit quietly and put your hand over your heart.
- Praise God and ask him what you would like him to do for your inner self. For example, “Father, all goodness comes from you. Let your peace flow through me.” This is important because it humbles us. We are aware that we cannot change ourselves without experiencing God’s spiritual energy.
- Take a deep, slow breath in, breathing deeply through your nose. Follow the breath as it fills your lungs up with air. Expand your chest until you cannot take in any more air. (Use a sacred word such as Yahweh or Jesus to time the in-breath. Say “Yah-Weh” or “Je-Sus” slowly on the in-breath, which makes it easier to actually take that long slow breath in until you can’t fit in any more air.)
- Take a long slow breath out through your nose until all the air is expended. The out-breath should be longer than the in-breath. On the slow out-breath, you should soon start to feel stillness and get a taste of your vibrant inner life. It’s when you start to become aware of it on some level.
- Focus on the breath with each slow intake and each slow outtake. Focusing on the breath is essential in the practice of presence. When we are consciously focusing on our breath, we cannot think at the same time.
- Continue breathing as you did in steps 3 and 4 above for up to twenty minutes.
When we are practicing presence and we are consciously present, there are no worries, no anxieties or stress, no lack of self-esteem, because none of that exists in the present moment. These only spring up in our unobserved mind, when we are unconsciously living through memory or anticipation.
Continue taking three or more conscious breaths throughout the day to access God’s spiritual energy and renew yourself.
That is how the practice of presence teaches us— through the stillness we create and what we are experiencing inside. That vibrant inner life is our spirit, our inner intelligence, God’s spiritual energy within us. When we start the day this way, it becomes our foundation. We know exactly what we’re looking for then and throughout the day. That is the first part of inner conditioning, which is essential.
The practice of presence is about doing. There is a lot of talk today in all our churches about being present and how it enhances all aspects of our lives and our relationship with God, which is absolutely true. But there is not enough emphasis on practicing presence. Too often we tend to look for more information and answers instead of allowing the practice of being present to teach us through our own experience. It is the doing that changes everything. Without the personal experience of the inner freedom of presence and how connected we feel to our vibrant inner life, which is God’s spiritual energy within us, we will not believe it can transform our lives.
The main purpose of this effort is to encourage you to try the practice of presence until it has time to take root. Once it has taken root, it is God’s Spirit that leads us and teaches us. Then we will know what we are looking for and that we have an alternative, a choice: Are we going to choose our self-created inner fears and conflicts or the peace of the present moment? The practices are easy and accessible to all of us. The power of presence is not what we do but what is being done to us when we bring stillness into our lives.