How to cultivate presence and calmness with strategies from the sages of the East

by on June 3, 2009


Many of us go through the world with a mild form of unease, a submerged tension
that unconsciously communicates that something is not right.

But this need not be so. Even in the midst of the most difficult situations we can control our reactions with presence, poise and equanimity. The Eastern technique of mindfulness, of paying close attention to our  external surroundings even to the extent of ignoring our own personal judgments, is very effective in achieving  presence and calmness.

You know the deal; there is a shaven headed man in an orange sarong sitting meditating under a bodhi tree and he just exudes presence. But how can you be like that when you have just so many things to do and so many worries on your mind?

To be fair the man siting under the tree is doing more than just practising a single technique, he has adopted a whole belief system that supports the attainment of presence and has spent years deconditioning his body of tension. But you don’t need to become a monk to cultivate presence – ultimately he has a strategy that is replicable in both you and me such that we too can achieve his state of prescence.

What strategies can we implement to cultivate presence?

If you were to ask our friend the monk, how we  might go about achieving a state of prescence,  he might suggest that  “There is no I”. In other words, the monk would be advocating that we let go of our ego, our historical identity with its fears and desires in exchange for becoming focused on the now. Allowing our consiousness to become fully absorbed by the very moment and act of being right now.

In doing this you will notice the following changes in internal states and external behaviour:

1. Ending or slowing of excessive self talk, verbalisation of feelings.

2. Deeper consciousness of your habitual reactions.

3. Observing your internal state with  acceptance.

4. Deeper, relaxed breathing

5. A mild indifference to external events and a detachment from specific results or outcomes

Somewhat paradoxically, you may find that your increased indifference to external events makes you more effective in dealing with your problems.

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