The Cycle of Somatic Presence is all about being. A constantly shifting and redefining of being, but essentially still being.
As we enter the third decade of this century I see an age that could well be defined as the age of persistent distraction. A time of increasing and ever louder demands which draw us out of present. Disconnecting us from those we live with, learn with and work with. And from ourselves.
This is reflected in the growth of moment-based wellbeing and alternative health solutions. We are all crying out to find that which we have lost, or should I say allowed to be taken from us. We are in love with being connected to the world, yet find ever less time for “here and now”.
The alternative is to regain the connection, the how, why and where of our being; what I define of as presence.
We are not alone
I am convinced that the key to individual effectiveness is social. What do I mean? To put it simply we are at our most productive when we work together. We feel our best when we are loved. We understand the most about our performance from feedback. As social beings we are hardwired to cooperate.
Social connection is not just words. It is a physical interaction, rapport is established when our bodies and movements are congruent. When both beings are fully present for each other, it is embodied, it is mind and body. Effective interaction is built on a foundation of the physical and sensual information which engages the whole being, the somatic, from the Greek soma meaning “body”.
The somatics of presence and social interaction are generally somewhere at the penumbra of our awareness. Or should I say our conscious awareness? But it does not need to be. Being open to a genuine awareness of self, and the impact of self on others, brings things back into view.
I like the idea of somatic coach Paul Linden who coined the term embodied peace-making. It describes the subtle unconscious positioning which occurs between interacting individuals. A slow and intuitive embodied dance which seeks to create and sustain social harmony.
We need to connect with that dance.
Defining the challenge
Real presence is a practice of constant transformation. Subtle shifts, an ongoing constant change and adapting.
Every moment of every day is a dance whose steps reflect the ever changing responses to situation and interaction. Presence is a continuous exchange between ourselves and those circumstances. A constant cycle of unconscious calibration which facilitates authentic and appropriate behaviour.
The question is can we engage with this cycle? Can we train it consciously?
The first step is awareness. Building a mindful awareness of where we are, what we are doing and why. This enables us to establish a clear and objective understanding of what is needed in response to specific situations and circumstances. Then we set the intention to act. To recognise how we establish and embody the state and actions there required.
And so we create an authentic presence, one which grows from within, shaped by our observation of what is going on in the moment, within us or without – whether alone, with friends or in the workplace.
There are three steps which we follow, that we pass through and cycle around, restart and continue. Forever calibrating how we are, what we are doing and how we are sharing ourselves. I call this The Cycle of Somatic Presence.
THE CYCLE: Awareness
The foundation skill is to establish a clear and non-judgemental situational awareness, How we are, how others are, and of the circumstances of any challenge that we face.
We start by developing a personal quiet openness, a state from which to observe without interpretation. To see ourselves, others and situations as they are. We observe without interpretation or narrative. To facilitate this observation we ground in our breath or by centring within our body.
We allow ourselves to be aware of all that which is within and around, not striving to change, nor to fix or resolve. Just to see what is as it is. Seeing what is happening. And checking with our bodies, to see how we are in context.
Where there are others involved, we might where appropriate further our observations via open questions and clean language. Being curious. Looking beneath the surface. Challenging our own first impressions, or perhaps I should say letting go of them.
We are gathering information. Simply allowing an intuitive understanding to coalesce, not by framing, leading or directing it.
THE CYCLE: Becoming
To become we need a place where we can be still. To be silent. Here we can find neutral. This can be a sensation of calm within, a place in nature, a room or a just a “held” space. Somewhere to feel safe and comfortable and to centre ourselves.
Now accepting our sensational understanding of the situation (holding stillness rather than reacting). Allowing ourselves to settle into how things are, as long as it is safe or appropriate to do so.
And then permitting ourselves to engage and become one. We are now embedded within that we had observed, and it is embodied within us. At one whatever the situation. Let ourselves immerse in the real felt sense, and so enabling a balanced situational empathy to form.
Then we explore our somatic responses accompanying that merging. What are we experiencing as we are with that moment. Does it resonate somehow for us. And how does it then manifest in arising thoughts or behaviours – enacted or just “a need to act felt”.
What do our senses tell us. We give ourselves time to reflect and consider what is required in the moment by that situation. In that reflection is there an awareness that arises or some connection.
THE CYCLE: Channelling
Lastly there is the question: what action should we take; what calling arises from within the stillness.
How does that calling ask us to be. What is the shift that we need to embody now. Setting the right intention and focussing our attention. Embodying the change or state that is required to facilitate what is required. We create the shape that we need to be.
Gently moving but with clear purpose, from simply being within the experience to active interaction. Where possible ensuring that we do not let our “heads” get in the way or divert us.
We now embody that which is required to lead the change. Follow it through with focus. Enact whatever behaviour or action, delivered in the appropriate state, and supported by constructive and positive intention.
Checking in with others or circumstances (or just with ourselves) as we act. Remaining present. Sustaining an emotional physical and social connection with what is around us, or with those with whom we are sharing the journey.
Keeping an eye on alignment to intention at all times. Being fully present in our action, and enacting with an appropriately embodied purpose throughout.
Living within the continuing shift
All of this can occur in the blink of eye. Or the form part of a meditative practice.
Either way, the moments move on so does the cycle. As the moment shifts then so must we if we are to remain present. The subtle transformation continues; and our presence manifests as a constant embodiment of the appropriate response. The more we work with the cycle, the more we trust and the more we learn. As we practice so the learning machine works its unconscious magic.
Nature is no absolute; neither are we. Presence is the authentic response to circumstances. Self awareness can recognise distraction. Thus aware we note that our attention is no longer where we intended it to be. When we perceive this then the choice to return is ours.
And so aware we shift, our behaviour an embodied response, calibrated in a cycle of somatic presence.
We are social beings and presence is the foundation of that social connection. It is a living connection to the here and now, rather than the undirected wandering between the loudest calls of distraction which surround us. The cycle of somatic presence establishes the necessary awareness and so facilitates connection.
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