Presence is our true home and the cure for our suffering

The third noticing on the path to self-discovery is: presence is our true home and the antidote for fear, which we know is always the cause of suffering. Think about it: when you’re suffering from loneliness, it’s the fear of being separate from love; when you’re in pain due to illness, you suffer out of fear that it is worse than it actually is, or that it will always be this way. Remember, pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional. The moment of presence, or the holy instant, can make all the difference.

If presence is our true home, we are truly lost in every thought spent outside of the here and now. The sad truth is, most of us spend the majority of our days and lives stuck in a never-ending feedback loop of the past (likely, mis-remembering its events anyway) or in a 24/7 hair-raising freak-out session worrying about the future. We are either regretting the way things turned out yesterday or stressing our eyeballs out about what could go wrong just around the corner. This is sheer lunacy, considering nothing actually exists outside the present moment. In Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now, he says, “What you think of as the past is a memory trace, stored in the mind, of a former Now. When you remember the past, you reactivate a memory trace – and you do so now. The future is imagined Now, a projection of the mind. When the future comes, it comes as the Now. Past and future obviously have no reality of their own.”

Think about it: how much of your day was spent in the future, even the immediate future? Likely, from the moment you woke up you’ve been ever-so-slightly leaning into the next minute, the next hour, the next activity. Our brains have evolved to prepare us for where we need to go – it’s a survival instinct to constantly seek out pleasure and be alert to what could be lurking around every corner. Luckily, we no longer need the same level of anxiety as our saber-toothed tiger-eluding ancestors. Not so luckily, however, we have inherited their brains. We can’t help it if we remain unconscious to it. But you’re here, you’re reading this, so you must have at least an inkling of a hunch that this isn’t all there is to life. And you’re right!

With a solid presence practice, you can re-train your brain to stay in the here and now, which leads to tons of great benefits for your health:

With a healthier body, improved work performance, better sleep, and more genuine relationships – presence is guaranteed to reduce your suffering and increase your joy. Right now! So, why don’t more people give it a go?

The answer, dear ones, is a sad little demon we all have raging within us called Resistance. You feel the Resistance demon stirring in your legs, keeping you from fully relaxing down into your bed or yoga mat during Savasana. You feel it as tightness in your fists as you walk into the office the morning of a dreaded meeting. You feel it in your jaw as you brace yourself against a winter’s chill in the air. Resistance is all around us, and isn’t reserved for things that are true threats to our well-being. It lies in dormant in every cell of our body, ready to lash out at unexpected times – like when you’re falling in love or receiving a compliment. Just as the root cause of our suffering is fear-based, you may be able to boil your suffering down to see that it includes the ingredient of resistance. As the Buddhist equation goes, Pain x Resistance = Suffering. And, as Carl Jung says, “What you resist persists.” I use these as mantras to help me acknowledge and dial-down my inner resistance in times of suffering. In fact, the reason I started Luminous Leanings was to empower people to discover that their nervous systems – their emotions, thoughts and suffering – are largely within their control. We are not slaves to them! You have the power to, not only recognize when you are in the grip of resistance, but to let it go. You will instantly find relief – even if the pain lingers, the suffering will diminish. If you can send yourself love and compassion next, you will find it completely transformed.

Practice coming home to presence:

  • Sit comfortably, with your palms facing up. Breathe in I am presence. Breathe out I am love. Repeat 3 times.
  • Notice if there’s any tension or tightness – and resistance in the body.
  • Now sense what is attached to the physical sensations – is it shame? Guilt? Grief? Perhaps it’s feeling as though the pain in your body is your fault. Just notice the ways the mind attaches to the pain through this resistance to your natural state of presence.
  • Acknowledge the resistance for trying to protect you. Let it know that you are safe, and there is nothing to protect. Feel the resistance relax.
  • Breathe in I am presence. Breathe out I am love. Repeat 3 times.
  • If any thoughts come to mind replaying the movie of the past – perhaps a situation that happened today or years ago – notice them, acknowledge them, and let them go. Remember you are not your thoughts. You are presence and pure awareness.
  • Breathe in I am presence. Breathe out I am love. Repeat 3 times.
  • If any thoughts come to mind for the future – either worrying about tomorrow or even simply leaning into your next activity or task – notice them, acknowledge them, and let them go. If it helps you can thank them for trying to make sure you are prepared, but let them know it’s ok. You have everything you need right now, in this moment.
  • Breathe in I am presence. Breathe out I am love. Repeat 3 times.
  • Acknowledge this awareness, this presence, this your true higher self, your true nature. Thank it for never leaving your side, and ask it to guide you back to its source when you experience attachments in the form of resistance, thought of the past, and thoughts of the future.
  • Breathe in I am presence. Breathe out I am love. Open your eyes.

Be well and be present, dear ones. And whatever you do, please don’t identify with your resistance to the present moment. Remember it is completely natural, and resisting your own resistance will only create deeper attachment to it. Instead, try to relax into presence and into the higher state of awareness that always dwells within you, for this is who you truly are and all you truly have.

Until next time, be well & take gentle self care.

Namaste, Ellen

Posted by

I started Luminous Leanings to share my passions of meditation & self-care. As a self-care coach, I'm really just a holder! I hold space for busy people on their self-care journey. Then I hold them accountable as they integrate self-care into their lives. If you want to develop more self-compassion, but aren't sure where to start, you've come to the right place. Be sure to check out my guided meditations & journal freebies, & sign up for the Letter to keep in touch. You don't have to self-care alone - I'm in your corner!

4 thoughts on “Presence is our true home and the cure for our suffering

    1. Thank you for stumbling into my little piece of light! Best of luck with your blog – what an incredibly important topic. I haven’t learned about the concept of “supportive survivorship,” and I look forward to reading your words. ❤


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