When we are present there is a feeling of aliveness and stillness within. Of course, it is possible to be present and still active but this normally takes practice to develop the capacity to hold it.
Most of us need to sit in a quiet place to develop the awareness to follow our breath. The more we take the time to be with our breath, the stronger our capacity to hold both true presence and the ability to be active simultaneously. This is how we develop our neural pathways which are involved in sensing the subtler sensations like breathing.
Take a moment now to sit quietly and observe your breath. Let yourself notice everything you are aware of when you have this intention of being with your breath. Can you sense your breath? If so, where in your body do you sense it? Is it fast or slow? Shallow or deep? Any other qualities?
The purpose of breath is to carry oxygen to every cell in the body. Acknowledge the possibility of every cell in the body breathing and sensing this. This awareness requires our slowing down, taking us into more subtle areas of perception.
Take a few moments now to observe your breath. Do you feel any slower after being with your breath? Did you notice your breath change at all as you were with it? How is it now? Can you read this and still be aware of your breath at the same time?
Awareness is an essential aspect of presence. If you are with someone but thinking ahead about what you are going to say next you are not really with them. Have you considered if you are even with yourself?
Breath and Relationships
Have you ever noticed that your ability to be with your breath and the sensations which accompany this shift when you come into relationship or contact with another person?
Take a moment and sense your breath as it moves in and out of your body. Notice whatever sensations you become aware of. Once you have a sense of the flow of your breath, imagine a friend or family member walking in through the door. What happens with your breath? What happens with your awareness of it? Can you still feel the breath?
Frequently there is a change in our breath when we encounter others. This may be leftover from our primal animal instincts, a need to sense the person with us to determine whether we are safe or not.
As our sympathetic “fight or flight” nervous system is activated to enable us to remain alert enough to check out the other person, our breath normally accelerates. With our attention focused on the other person, we often lose track of our own breath as we enter the relational field. What happens if we settle back into a sense of breath? What is in the way of our being present in relationship to the moment. In this relationship?
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