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PRESENCE


“The moment is not found by seeking it, but by ceasing to escape from it.” - James Pierce


Prompt:

How we cultivate presence in our own practice? It’s easy to feel absent, distracted, and overwhelmed when trying to be creative, so I’d like to spend some time reflecting on what we do to care for our practice and stay present as we work.


My Answer:

Personally, I need quiet. Solitude. I minimize distraction like noise and other tasks that can overwhelm my senses. I limit my focus to once singular thing. I focus on my breathing and how I feel (like a body scan). I honor how I feel in the moment.


Thoughts and Actions:

How often are we really present in our working process? And how often are we worried about what could happen tomorrow, what happened yesterday, what others are thinking, what we AREN’T doing… and how do we get back to that present state? The state that allows for optimal creativity, flow, peace…


Most people (and especially overthinkers) tend to have a negativity bias when it comes to their thinking. Our mind is programmed to constantly scan the horizon for threats – and if our physical safety is under control, then we’ll look for other kinds of threats, whether social, emotional, etc. Negative thinking tends to lead to moods like anxiety and resentment that then have a negative impact on our emotional presence.


Presence is both a quality and a skill.


The good news is that, because it's a skill, presence can be developed. It may come naturally to some people, but ultimately it’s a choice that becomes a habit.


What are some steps to help become more present? Let’s organize this by looking at the different types of presence.

Physical: Focus on your breathing + Body scan

Mental: write down your thoughts… since 95% of thoughts are repetitive, write it down and clear your head

Emotional: Ask yourself... how are you feeling now?  Emotional presence is two-fold:  It’s about being aware of our own moods and emotions, and the impact they may be having on our thinking and behavior. This aspect of presence requires a foundation of physical presence, as emotions are experienced primarily in the body.


It’s ALSO about being aware of others’ emotions and using this awareness to connect with them – using empathy.


Professor Antonio Damasio, a neuroscientist at the University of Southern California, has studied the effects of damage to the limbic system (the part of the brain that generates emotions) and has found that it makes decision-making virtually impossible. Patients without a functioning limbic system can weigh the pros and cons of a decision using the neocortex (the rational brain), but they cannot actually make even a simple decision.

Being more emotionally present with ourselves enables us to be aware of what might be motivating our own behavior, especially when that behavior might be at odds with our ultimate purpose. As creatives, emotional presence also enables us to connect with those around us and engage them in a powerful way.


Spiritual: What is your purpose? Or - Why are you doing what you’re doing? (and for those of use for whom spirituality is an illusive concept, lets call it a “sense of purpose”) One of the key functions of a creative is the ability to articulate a clear and compelling purpose – or vision. And to be effective, a creator needs to embody this purpose.




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