Blog Alan Seale, September 14, 2020, Transformational Presence
Throughout the heightened uncertainties of the last five months, I continue to learn more and more about meeting each day as it comes. Being fully present in the moment—day by day, and often even hour by hour—I am looking towards the future in new ways.
Planning, organizing, and preparing for upcoming workshops, presentations, or life events, and sensing future trends in my life and work, has always come naturally to me. In fact, I have loved looking ahead and diving into the creative process for an event or possibility in my future.
However, within the first few weeks of Corona lockdown back in March, my connection to that easy focus and creative process seemed to vanish. The future was suddenly up in the air. Nothing felt certain. I was on unfamiliar ground. We all were. As March flowed into April, it felt like life was on hold. We were in “waiting” mode—waiting day by day and week by week for a sign that this would all be over soon.
In contrast to my external “waiting,” my internal treadmill was moving faster than ever. I became nearly obsessed with planning, organizing, and preparing for a post-pandemic time. Surely this would all pass within a few weeks, or at least within a few months. It didn’t.
From waiting to accepting to deeper presence
As April flowed into May, it became clear that uncertainty, lockdowns, and social distancing would be with us longer than expected. “Waiting” slowly shifted to “accepting.” Accepting that this was how it was going to be. Accepting that I would not be traveling to speak and teach in the foreseeable future. Accepting that the structure and form of my work was about to change dramatically. Accepting that it might be a long time before I could physically embrace people so dear to me. Accepting that some things would never be the same again.
Every day brought another change to accept. And that hasn’t stopped.
As May flowed into June, “acceptance” opened a door within me to a deeper sense of “presence.” Presence right here, right now.
My inner treadmill had slowed way down. I was grateful for empty space in my calendar and more unstructured time than usual in my day. Yet it was not a restful slowing down. In fact, it was often troubling. Unsettling. I had no plan, no strategy, nothing to prepare. It was hard to imagine that there could be anything to plan or prepare for. I could only be right here, right now, one step at a time. Meeting each day as it comes.
While I felt a constant undercurrent of unease, I was surprised to realize that I was starting to live in this deeper presence for longer periods of time. At first it was entire days. Soon, multiple days in succession. Even more surprising was the fact that it took very little effort. It had not been my intention. I wasn’t trying to be more present. It just happened.
I thought I knew what deep presence was. Another awakening.
Before all of this, I thought that I knew deep presence. I could even embody what I thought deep presence was for a few hours at a time. Yet as summer unfolded, I began to realize how limited my understanding had been. Maybe I’m still just scratching the surface; time will tell. However, for now, day by day, I am learning.
Sometimes I find peace in this deeper presence; at other times, it’s really uncomfortable. I’m quite sure I’m not alone in this experience. The deeper we are rooted in Consciousness, the more we become aware of the interconnection of everything. We feel the world, not just think about it. We feel and experience the full spectrum of human emotion, from the highest highs to the lowest lows. Which is precisely why many people avoid this deep presence. While this presence can bring profound nurture and support, at the same time it asks for your full engagement. Engagement through presence, awareness, and action, without emotional entanglement. That last part is key.
A Wake-up Call to Everything that is Not Working
The global pandemic was a dramatic wake-up call to everything that is not working in our world. Within weeks we also came face-to-face with political and social upheaval, racial and economic inequality and unrest. Disasters such as the Beirut explosion were spawned by human negligence and corruption. The Atlantic hurricane season has once again been amplified by climate change. And as I write, thousands of square miles of the western United States are burning.
Staying deeply present with all that is happening and not becoming overwhelmed has been my current learning curve. It’s all about learning to navigate the present moment, staying close to my soul and soul mission, and discerning what is being asked of me. I have gifts, skills, talents, and awareness—we all do. How am I being asked to show up right here, right now? What am I being asked to do?
Facing What Is, Finding My Voice
James Baldwin (1924-1987) was an American author, playwright, and a powerful voice for the American civil rights movement. One of my favorite quotes from his writings is:
Not everything that is faced can be changed.
But nothing can be changed until it is faced.
The older I get, the deeper James Baldwin’s words pierce my soul. As I live into this deeper presence, I am looking to the future in a different way. I am very aware that I alone cannot change all that is happening in the world. I am only one voice.
Yet the more I am willing to be present with what is happening, let it talk to me, and listen from my soul, the more I find what wants to be expressed through my voice today. That then becomes my next assignment.
It’s not about making an impact everywhere on everything. That goes for all of us. In fact, trying to do that will quickly drain our energy and diminish our efforts. However, when we face the challenges at hand, are fully present with them, and let them talk to our souls, we begin to recognize the role that is ours to take.
In my own experience, this process begins with listening from a deep presence. The process continues with giving energy to the intention that whatever needs to happen for the greater good will unfold. As I give energy to that intention, my soul finds its place within what is happening. My role becomes clear. My job is then to stay firmly rooted in deep presence right here, right now; to listen, sense, and feel; and to respond from the clarity of my soul.
Planning, Organizing, and Preparing for the Future in a New Way
As I plan, organize, and prepare the Zoom courses I will lead in the coming months, my process is changing. I remain deeply rooted in right here, right now. My preparations for these future events are shaped by my present-day awareness. More than ever before, the curriculum for these courses is being shaped by listening and sensing into the real-time unfolding realities of the moment. Every day, I make more revisions to the scripts. And I fully expect that our exploration and discovery in each class session will unfold within the context of what is happening around and within us on that particular day.
For my ongoing work in the world, I am following the same process. I don’t have a plan. Having a plan doesn’t feel relevant in these fast-changing times. Every day is a practice of deep presence right here, right now. I pay attention to how I am being asked to show up and what I’m being asked to do. Moment by moment, day by day, week by week, I find my next assignments. And that’s where I put my focus. Out of those assignments, the topics for my writing, teaching, and service emerge. And my ongoing work will naturally unfold.