Christmas Presence

I had a curious but enlightening brief conversation with the bride at a wedding recently which went something like this:
     Me: how are you doing?
     Bride: I don’t know – just trying to stay present to it all
     Me: what a wonderful thing – to be present at your own wedding!

Perhaps a strange response from me. But I think she understood what I meant.

For my own part I often find in the midst of activity, social gatherings and the planning of such, as well as now wondering whether they can happen at all, plus additional Covid uncertainty/anxiety, the first thing I lose is my presence – my awareness of the preciousness and strange beauty of just this moment – whatever it is bringing me.

This loss of presence is probably something of a survival strategy. When so much is going on whether in life around me or in my head I can feel slightly less in control and a bit more vulnerable to potential threats and challenges. So, naturally, in order to feel a bit safer, I close down – just a bit, or a lot, depending on how I am and just how much is happening.

Survival, of course, is a good thing. But if it is too dominant or stronger than it needs to be in a particular moment then something can so easily be lost too. And that something will be the quality of my presence to what is here, to the people I encounter, and to the moments of beauty which can so easily pass me by.

And there is a sense that all meditation practice is about being present – with our whole beings – to whatever is here. Our minds though constantly pull us away – to the future or to the past or to some kind of analysis of the present (weighing up threats and opportunities).

And hence the often mentioned encouragement from mindfulness teachers to ‘just keep coming back’ to what is here, now – starting with the breath but then opening to our whole experience. We may wonder why we are doing this ‘just coming back’ over and over again. But this is precisely why – this present moment is the most precious thing there is. Many would say the only thing.

The wonder, of course, is that so often I find that being present is not what I feared it would be – that in fact the fear of the present was the worst bit and actually being present, even if what is here is deeply challenging, has an aliveness and a beauty to it which can transcend whatever it is I may have been afraid of. 

So, here is my intention for this Solstice and Christmas period – in the midst of the presents, can I simply be present and see each moment transformed?

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