Resistance to Presence


Almost ten years after discovering “Presence” as an intellectual concept, the active awareness of embodied life, movement, emptiness, now-ness, whatever words we want to wrap our minds around the divinity of aliveness, of this-here-now, yes, the Church of Whaz Happenin’ Now, I am finally more deeply realizing my fierce bodily resistance to Presence.

We may have been born free of thought watching that mobile-like-thingee dance around above our cribs, hello smiling face, milky spurts of joy, warm diapers of release, ow that hurts!, cuddle-hug, but we soon learn to compartmentalize through language–and, yes, admit it, to discern and judge–and soon we tiptoe in a hushed dream world of abstract thoughts and concepts, far from initial perception, the pure presence of a breast, that dollie, that spinning top, squirming toes.

Add sixteen years, or twenty-nine, or seventy-three, and pretty soon we’re ensconced in a dream-world of abstract thought.  We’ve labeled everything dead.  We’ve removed ourselves from rain’s soft cold chill.  We’ve insulated ourselves in a make-believe world about six steps away from that which just revealed itself to us here, now.

It’s amazing that we can perhaps, if we’re lucky, intellectually understand Presence within a moment of reading about it.  Our heart can sometimes resonate–yes, yes! that’s what I want, O Presence, Come Hither!–but to live it, truly live it, at the level of feet and knees, in this particular room,  by this sky, near the humming of the heater, to realize it at the level of the nervous system (O Ye Nervous System, trained in Thought and Belief Politics) it’s another matter.

I realize, meditation after meditation, day after day, how this body, this being, has forgotten to relax completely into this moment.  How this nervous system cranks up like an over-wired motor at times, reaching out to do, do, do.  How impossible it feels to sit, sit, sit, doing nothing, allowing Being to dance its empty-full dance.

About two months ago, one morning at work, I realized the depths of my body’s inability to relax.  This is a body that relaxes day after day, never turning on the television, walking long hours in nature.  Yet, truly, the nervous system still zings, zangs, refuses to decompress to the open expanse of Presence.

As this realization arose, the body relaxed.  It simply let go.  Ahhhh…into here…this wooden door, that computer over there, all simply being.  And I simply released into being.  Awareness joined awareness in the room, finally, at a body-level, a being-level, yes, here, now, finally.

It didn’t stay relaxed, mind you. It soon returned to pre-surrendered levels of abstraction, but for long moments of now it realized its innate resistance to Presence.

Non-dualists will say we’re always awareness, we’re always already complete–and yes, of course we are.  That’s our great secret gift!  We’re already that which we seek.

However, our nervous systems–let alone our minds and hearts–have often forgotten.  We can lose ourselves in days and weeks and lifetimes of imaginations, can’t we, a step distant from what reveals itself here, now?

I could tell stories until they throw clods of soil over these decomposing bones and perhaps, if awareness still lingered near the body, finally realize the joy in that grave-digger’s shovel, the heavy wet feel of dirt without labeling, without making it a tragedy or a release, without making it anything that would disguise the moment into a personality with an experience,  a multi-layered story, a song separate from itself.

Every day now I want to spend more time simply surrendering to what arises.  Here, now, enough

Here, now, more than enough.

You can see how true it is.  That which we truly are shines like the brightest clearest sun, perfectly radiant, perfectly relaxed, perfectly compassionate, perfectly open.

What arises–even our imperfect personalities–is also perfect, but we don’t really see that beyond a mental concept of perfection–until the nervous system relaxes and moves through our mornings, afternoons and evenings in tandem with the arising. 

When the nervous system moves effortlessly with the arising–here, now–the tea cup moving, fingers clasping ceramic, hot, mint, liquid, no me, no tea, no other, one movement, one sip, one taste–then resistance is seen as yet another story, a little chuckle, a guffaw, less than a story, more than a song, but it’s over before you label it and awareness moves on toward itself and there’s nothing to grasp because you’re free, simply, totally free.


11 thoughts on “Resistance to Presence

  1. Stunning expression of your realization Kathy. “Surrendering to what arises”. . . . such a beautiful way of being, certainly a discipline worthy of practice.

  2. “You can see how true it is. That which we truly are shines like the brightest clearest sun, perfectly radiant, perfectly relaxed, perfectly compassionate, perfectly open.”

    So beautifully expressed it brings tears of joy …

  3. I understand both the inability to really relax and the need to filter everything about my experiences– my entire existence– through the lenses of abstraction, compartmentalization, and plain old THOUGHTS.

    Silly me, Kathy– I envy you for having that fleeting, beautiful moment of just being. Even now, reading about your experience, my mind jumps in and begs “pay attention to me! I’m still here! Thinking, thinking, comparing, analyzing, wishing to have a Kathy moment!” Ha. Maybe I’ve got another 10 years before I can enjoy a few seconds of pure being? 😉

    Beautiful, heart-thoughts-provoking post, my dear one.

    • Dana, our minds will so often envy everything and everyone! I think that’s one thing some of our minds like to do in their continual comparative internal yammering. You know, the mind may not even know this, but I suspect you’ve had a few seconds of pure being. (The mind likes to cover it up every time it happens because they moments are usually something the mind can’t begin to comprehend.) Think of random moments of joy in your day–not because anything was happening, but just because you were enjoying sitting in the sun and for one second maybe you were just sitting in the sun and not planning tomorrow’s menu or fretting about 6,000 things.

      It’s true that it wasn’t til I was 30 years old that I began–just tiny baby steps–to relax–and gosh darn, it’s taken ANOTHER 20 years of dedicated practice and desire to sometimes, mind you, sometimes, surrender to this precious moment. But I think it can happen unexpectedly to folks, too.

      In this past week I’ve had some really great stretches of Presence, mostly because am letting the mind free from it’s writing/recording/sharing tendency. However, this afternoon I wrote a blog and can’t publish it yet cuz Barry needs to confirm some facts and my mind has completely hijacked Presence and is off & flying…once again.

      I love that you pause here and read these thoughts & feelings about Presence, dear heart.

  4. Kathy, I have been so aware of this for a long time… this resistance. And have the same desire to simply surrender as it arises but oh, it can still so quickly catch me by surprise. And when it does, I am still drawn to put words to it and understand it and hang on to it like a familiar, though increasingly uncomfortable, friend. *smiling right now as I read my words and hear my own resistance story*

    As always, I am so grateful for your words and your thoughts in this quiet place.

    • I think I could write about resistance to presence for many many days, Colleen. The mind has a million resistance stories. And we enact them day after day after day. Moment after moment after moment… Some day we will quit resisting. Perhaps this very moment.

  5. As I read these words, I did something that I have done for many years now…I listened to the quiet sounds of the room I am in. Once upon a time, I discovered how much “noise” I had whirring around in my mind, nothing in particular, just noise. My subconscious is able to quiet the noise now, and really hear the sounds of now, which in reality are no where near as noisy as my mind can sometimes be. Thank you for the poke in the ribs you just gave me, dear Kathy. 🙂

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