On the Challenges of Presence

(TURKEY, Pamukkale) Ah, to strain towards nothing more nor less than the sun. (Photo taken by the author.)

(TURKEY, Pamukkale) Ah, to strain towards nothing more nor less than the sun. (Photo taken by the author.)

Day by day, it gets a little easier: just being here; just being present.

It’s not easy, but it’s getting easier.

This being-right-here-right-now is something of an occupational requirement for me as a yoga teacher who also leads guided meditation sessions. But it’s never come easily (just one of many things that don’t come easily and have never come easily).

It doesn’t help that I write.

Don’t get me wrong. Writing requiresno, demandsbeing present. There’s no creating or recreating reality without an original fidelity to presences and phenomena. But what happens after that initial witnessing…Well, I know I personally withdraw wholesale. Tiny bits of reality have been enough to sustain me and my imagination for years. (Perhaps that’s why I’ve spent staggeringly long stretches of time just skimming over the surface of things; the occasional immersions into the deep have been more than sufficient.)

My good friend J. refers to all of it as “the life of the mind.” Truth be told, it’s a life that’s often more real to me than the life I live out there in the world.

Which is why I practice yoga; which is why I practice sitting meditation. I’m trying to be a dual citizen of two realities. While my Zen ideals would have me be fully here, my literary proclivities require the occasional residence in Never Never Land. I’ll happily settle for a Persephonian compromise: half of my time spent above ground; the other half spent below ground.

Right now, I’m still spending more of my time in the Underworld. But slowly, ever so slowly, I’m coming out into the sun.

And staying.

It burns being out here sometimes, but mostly it’s nice and warm.

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