Flow and Presence


What gets between us and happiness?

This is an important inquiry in our lives. When you’re really happy ask yourself, what’s going on? What’s going on inside you when you’re really happy?

You’ll find that there are two dimensions. One dimension is that there is presence. When you’re really happy there is a quality of “you are here” for what’s really going on. The second dimension is aliveness. And they’re entirely intertwined. When you’re happy there’s a sense of life flowing through you. If you bring your attention in an embodied way to the life that’s here, you’ll find the sense of presence or the space of presence that’s aware. If you’re really occupying presence, you feel the flow of aliveness.

Let’s explore this intertwined dynamic. What is it really that lets us enter the flow? What is it that allows us not to be mere bystanders? So that we don’t get to the end of our lives and realize, “I didn’t really feel the life flowing through this body, heart and mind. I didn’t engage intimately in the energy flow of aliveness and love with others.” This is where meditation plays a pivotal role in our lives. We’re intuitively drawn to it because in cultivating a mindfulness practice we are training ourselves to come back here to the one place where happiness, love and peace are possible. In other words, meditation constitutes a training in presence.

These two facets to being present require on our part a willingness to stop doing. It doesn’t mean we stop being engaged in the world. What is means is to stop tumbling forward in our minds and be here. When we’re here in this moment we open ourselves to the life that is here. Those two things: being here and opening to the life that is here don’t happen that often because we tend to leave the moment and go into our minds. 

People wonder, “How come I don’t experience more living joy?” The reason is because we’re not in that “being” state. So the training is to come back here.

One way that we pull ourselves out of alignment, that we leave the flow, comes out of a desire to control. This is universal. Being an organism that’s anxious about its existence, we are rigged to try to manage things so that we feel better. In most moments, there is movement towards trying to have more pleasure and less pain. Often it is in a reactionary mode. Just check it out in your relationships with others. When you’re with another person and if you’re feeling somewhat anxious, you’ll notice the controller in you is trying to manage what happens in a way compatible with your expectations. Consequently, the more insecure you feel, the more the controller is in action. 


Now, in our meditation training, when we notice that we have left presence and we notice we’re off in some controlling, worrying space, the practice is to pause. To notice what is happening, and ask ourselves “what is this like?” This allows us to come back to our bodies, back to the flow of aliveness. That is our practice, time and time again, to come back.

I share this with you because when we wake up out of the trance that keeps us separate and come back again and again into this flow of aliveness, we’re coming back into the presence that knows a timeless love. A love that will keep on emerging in different forms. Again and again taking refuge in this aliveness and in the stillness that is its source, allows our natural loving to unfold.

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