What is Presence?
I’ve been thinking about what presence is and isn’t. My answers will no doubt show a Buddhist bias, but that’s where I am right now.
My first thoughts are about what presence isn’t: distracted. To be thinking about some other time or place is to not be here totally.
Then, I thought, “Presence is focused.” But I’m not sure that is right. I can be absolutely focused on something and unaware of anyone else in the room. That’s being task-oriented; I don’t think that’s presence.
I think presence is about awareness: of one’s emotions, other people’s behavior and emotions, and maybe even of larger undercurrents. I am greatly influenced by Daniel and Tara Golemans’ perspectives. They are management/psychological/Buddhist thought leaders.
I am also influenced greatly by Otto Scharmer and Peter Senge. They’ve written books on systems thinking and management. I absolutely love Scharmer’s Theory U, which shows the different levels of awareness, what they look and sound like, and how to maneuver between them. It is amazing and the only book that I’ve ever seen that so articulately explains everything in a way anyone can understand. He is a serious organizational genius, in my opnion.
How does one develop the elusive quality of presence? Silence, stillness, meditation, and/or prayer are all methods. At some point, the never-ending input has to end. Electronics need to be turned off. Walk away from the glowing screen. It’s all about becoming aware of one’s own thoughts and not simply reacting to them. That helps to develop the self-control that is non-negotiable when it comes to keeping one’s cool. And if you can recognize your own thoughts, you are more likely to empathize with other people’s similar thoughts. This is the opposite of living on automatic pilot.
These are just my biased opinions.