The very word evokes a depth and potency of character – a gravitas, a charisma based on inner substantiality; a simple and quiet dignity.
Presence means being at home in ourselves, being here, not only in contact with our sensory experience, but fully aware of whatever task is at hand or the people we are with. Presence means inhabiting our body, heart, and mind, and inhabiting our space, actions, and life.
We live in a culture of multi-tasking, of divided attention and distraction. Cultivating a practice of awareness is a radical act to train the mind and direct our attention consciously.
Consciousness, the distinctive quality of presence, is a timeless energy of wholeness and peace. Embodiment is the practice of sensitive awareness of the body as a whole, inclusive of emotions and the mind. I often track my awareness with the simple statement: “I think…, I feel…, I sense….”
Being aware of the body as a whole can be overwhelming, so one can use body-based concentrations, called ‘somatic anchors’, to focus the mind on specific parts of the body. We can choose one somatic anchor, for example our feet. When we open our awareness to the sensation of our moving feet, we become present to the moment and every step we take.
Awareness allows us to consciously choose how we want to move and lead in the world. Whatever we direct our intention to, we pay attention to it – becoming the focal point in developing our awareness. Research shows that through focused awareness practice, we can change and grow our neurological wiring.
The approach of a somatic meditation like the 5Rhythms movement practice looks at the body from the inside, a process called “interoception” in Neuropsychology. We pay attention to sensations, feelings, visceral intuitions, a felt sense of the body and the flow of our energy.
According to Daniel Siegel, a clinical professor of psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine and the founding co-director of the Mindful Awareness Research Center, developing a practice to focus attention, open awareness, and cultivate kind intention can literally help you grow a healthier brain and reduce fear, anxiety, and stress in your life.
Somatic Anchor Exercise
Here is a simple body based awareness practice I would like to share with you. It can be done anywhere — at home or at work, even at the bus stop. Just a few minutes of shifting your attention can make a difference in how present and connected you feel.
This walking meditation is a somatic engagement of mind, feet, and earth. Our usual sense is that the mind is in the head. Let’s explore the idea that the mind is in the feet!
If you are able to, please remove your shoes and socks and feel the earth underneath you as you stand. Spread your feet and toes wide and sink into your roots. Allow your mind to quiet and open your awareness to the sensations in your feet and the experience of gravity.
When you feel ready, slowly lift one foot and step forward. Slowly plant the foot, take a deep breath. Land, settle before you lift the other foot. Notice if your mind jumps into the future or hangs out in the past. Bring yourself back into the present moment as you slowly move, step by step, breath by breath.
Your feet can walk forward, sideways, in circles and even backward. Let them lead. Be curious about your rhythm, tempo and style of walking. It will be different every time.
Join me as we dive deeper into 5Rhythms movement, grounding, and inner- and interpersonal connections on Cortes Island from September 25-29 for Embody Your Leadership through Conscious Movement.