‘Some people possess something very special: they have the now in their heart.”
Thich Nhat Hanh
I’m barefoot on the volcanic path, the jungle fully awake and the morning sky all silly blue, taking the 20 or so paces from home to the studio. Ten minutes early for class and there are a few people sitting quietly in the space. I set myself up and approach them, one at a time, careful not to intrude. I’ve meditated and am deep in the dimension of relationship. It’s the theme for my class and it’s a good one as it keeps me anchored into my big Self. I’ve got my presence on in a big way. And I am here. Ain’t got my head in no other place. I’m not with anyone else doing any other thing, following any other story, making any other plans. I’m here.
So I’m careful. Soft stepping towards personal space and giving each gentle creature time to allow me in. Those precious heartbeats of exchange where we’ve already said so much before I ask ‘what is your name? How are you?’ I’m giving them my full attention with a sincere inquiry. Really. Who are you. How are you. They know it’s real and they tell me their back is tight. They’re tired. They’re so amazing (read I’m in Bali and it’s fricking beautiful and have you seen this outrageous yoga studio, woman?!?).
This is the sweetest exchange and one of my favourite parts of a smaller yoga class. The opportunity to connect with each student at the start. To really see them, listen to them, show them I care, let them know that it’s their practice and that they don’t have to do anything I tell them to. That they are enough. That they are special. That we are the same. That they are welcome. And that we’re in this together.
Co-creating the energy of the space, breathing in time, finding our rhythm, listening to our bodies and hanging out together in the field of conscious present awareness. Because is there really any better place to hang out? (Granted, being present whilst being in Bali is a bit of a bonus).
But being present is the place to be. It’s the Elysian field. The holy temple. The safe space. It’s what we each yearn for, from ourselves and each other. Simple presence. Being seen and heard and recognized, exactly as we are. Without adding anything or taking anything away. Without having to be anyone or anything else. Holding ourselves, and each other, so utterly whole.
“Empathy is a strange and powerful thing. There is no script. There is no right way or wrong way to do it. It’s simply listening, holding space, withholding judgement, emotionally connecting and communicating that incredibly healing message of ‘You’re not alone’”. Brené Brown
Reading this article by Thrive Global, this morning, I was reminded of how damn lucky we are to engage in the practice of yoga. A practice that is forever inviting us back into presence. To cultivate the profound ability to observe, listen and respond without judging, criticizing or analyzing. To simply be present. And that’s it. That’s all it takes.
According to Thive Global, who reference the inimitable Maya Angelou, there are 4 questions we are all unconsciously asking each other:
- Do you see me?
- Do you care that I’m here?
- Am I enough for you, or do you need me to be better in some way?
- Can I tell that I’m special to you by the way that you look at me?
And how sweet to hold these questions when you interact with someone. Try it out on a stranger or a loved one and especially with someone you might be struggling to communicate with.
Imagine they are silently saying this to you as you engage with them. Because, deep down, it’s what we’re all asking for, if you listen a little closer.
And if you find it a struggle to get present, then that’s ok. Close your eyes and repeat to yourself silently, I am here, I am here, I am here. Say it over and over, till you have called yourself in and feel like you’ve arrived.
As I’m writing this I realize that I can offer you a meditation so I’m going to record that now and you’ll be able to find it here. We’ll also be meditating and getting deeply present every morning on retreat, in both Bali and Ibiza, if you are looking to cultivate a daily practice.
I see you. I am here.