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The Miracle of Presence

How many times have you sat with someone and although they are right there with you and have said nothing you can feel the detachment? Perhaps you said or thought, “You are a million miles away.”

How often have you been having a conversation with someone but their head is on a swivel. Your brain is screaming “I’m right here!” but they aren’t right there, even though it’s to you that they are speaking. They’re looking for the next opportunity or a bigger fish or an excuse to escape this uncomfortable conversation. Conventions and trade shows are particularly rife with this lack of presence.

And then there’s this…. Have you been alone in the quiet and even then unable to feel ‘present’? Your mind is a million miles away and the uncomfortable conversation you can’t escape is the chatter of your own conflicted thoughts. Read more

Reaching Through the Pain

photo credit: Render’s Photography

Every day I wake up hurting. I start my day with the eye opening reminder that this is real. It wasn’t a bad dream. I don’t think it’s different than any other kind of pain though. The loss of a loved one or a job or a dream. Pain is all around.

For me, it’s both physical and emotional. And I am so very tired. All the time. Hurting is a lonely feeling. For everyone. We hunker down alone and wait to heal. Then we wonder why we feel so alone even when surrounded by people.

Pain is an egocentric experience. It causes us to focus inward instead of reaching out around us. But I know, the more I reach out to people, even if it’s just a smile, the less lonely I feel in my experience of pain. It isn’t that others understand or that I even expect them to. It’s that I’m simply less egocentric when I reach out.

Rule #1: It’s Not About You. Not even when you’re suffering.

Rule #2: You Have to Actually Care.

I am reminded that I created those rules at a time years ago when I was suffering a different kind of drama. I had to perform shows when all I wanted to do was stay curled up in my trailer crying. But the show must go on, especially when my livelihood depended on getting out of the trailer with a smile. So I wiped my tears, looked in the mirror, and chanted those first two rules. Then I opened the door, faced my audience and boldly embraced the rules. I did that day after day and began to see how consistently I felt better, less in pain, by practicing a compassionate outward directed focus. As a bonus the shows benefitted greatly!

Years later I am still needing constant reminders of this simple lesson. Reaching out with a compassionate heart won’t cure the pain, but it’s the best medicine for the loneliness of suffering.