What is Mindful Presence?

What is Mindful Presence?

This is the first post in the series on developing mindful presence.

Let’s unpack those two words, mindful presence.

Mindfulness is simply a clear, non-judgmental awareness of your inner and outer worlds. In particular, it’s an awareness of the flow of experience in your inner world – an alert observing of your thoughts, emotions, body sensations, desires, memories, images, personality dynamics, attitudes, etc.

When you are mindful of something, you are observing it, not caught up in it and not identified with it. The psychological term, “the observing ego” – considered to be essential for healthy functioning – refers to this capacity (i.e., mindfulness) to detach from the stream of consciousness and observe it. Other terms for this capacity include bare witnessing and the Fair Witness.

Mindfulness is an everyday psychological capacity, not some kind of lofty mystical state. To quote an unidentified meditation master: “Even children, drunkards, madmen, those who are old, or those who are illiterate, can develop mindfulness.”

Presence refers to the stability of mindfulness, which means the degree to which you are grounded in awareness itself.

With practice, awareness becomes increasingly your home base, your refuge, rather than the contents of awareness. You abide more and more as the field of awareness upon which experiences arise, register, and pass away.

The sense of awareness itself starts taking up more and more space in your daily experience; you certainly still get caught up in and swept along by mental contents many times a day, but you find there is more of a feeling of background awareness even then, plus you return to the awareness position more quickly, and stay there longer.

As mindful presence increases, there is a growing sense of being as the container of your everyday life, which holds the doing and the having of daily activities. You are being being. Doing and having no longer contain little moments of being; instead, being is increasingly the ongoing space through which ripples of doing and having come and go.

This quality of abiding as awareness moves out into your life beyond time spent meditating. Simply stretching your hand for a cup of coffee or tea becomes increasingly infused with a sense of full awareness of that act. So with other physical activities.

With people, you become more settled into being fully there with them, more peacefully relaxed in awareness of them and you and what’s happening, less identified with pleasant or unpleasant reactions that arise, less caught up in the past or future or sense of needing to make something happen. We can feel it immediately when someone else is mindfully present with us; similarly, others can feel it when you are that way yourself.

1Comment
  • Els De Reuwe
    Posted at 12:57h, 20 April

    Nice, clear and simpele explanation of how tot be present mindful! It was told that it can be learned by everybody.I was wandering if there is a specific approach needed for people who are most of time defined as ‘people with psychiatric co-morbidity’ .I suppose that in other terms and from ACT-perspective we should probably speak more likely in terms of a continuum of psychological flexibility/rigidity. In a psychiatric setting I often see my collegues working with mentalisation enhancing interventions. I am wandering if it is needed to to this sort of interventions first, or if there are needed special mindfulness exercises .I am asking this because I have sometimes the idea that people with psychiatric comorbidity often seems to have really difficult tot develop an observing ego, what seems tot be really important -to me, but maybe that’s a wrong prejudice- tot learn other capacities in line with ACT. Thanx already for any comment on this reflections. EDR (Belgium)

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