I’ve talked a lot about presence in my work, in my videos, and in my writings. If you are happening upon my work for the first time, you may have questions about exactly what presence is, and how it impacts my life.
I first discovered presence named as presence in 1994.
I had recently moved from Chicago to Maryland. My children were 13 and 10 at the time, and I was concerned about their adjustment to our move. I had left all of my responsibilities behind, and my intention was to give my attention fully to assist them to find their places in our new surroundings.
We landed in our new home mid-summer, and before school started. I spent time with them exploring our new neighborhood, introducing them to some of the advantages of our new life that may not have been evident to them. They had no friends there, (they assured me they would never have any friends again) so it was the 3 of us exploring during the week, joined by Dan on the weekends.
When they started school, I was involved, yet I wasn’t as busy as I had been before we moved. I also had no friends there yet, and I found myself wanting to find ways to help myself acclimate to our new location. I didn’t know exactly what I was looking for; yet I knew I was not looking for a therapist in the traditional sense. I had spent many years in therapy. I was looking for something else.
That something else was inner work. I didn’t describe it as inner work at the time, I don’t think the information I read about my new mentor facilitator (D) did either. I don’t remember what drew me to her. We did a lot of fun things together, dancing and movement; dream work, (where I got to act out my dreams) writing prompts, and present moment awareness.
A practice called Samyama.
I was drawn to Samyama immediately, yet I only experienced it in our sessions. I had not yet figured out that it was a practice that I could do on my own, or that I could return to it whenever I wanted or needed it. I worked with D for several years, becoming more and more comfortable in the present moment, even remembering times when I had been present in the past without recognizing it as presence. By the time I stopped my first round of work with D, I did remember to practice presence on my own. I was beginning to see the subtle power of it, and it was a resource that assisted me in my everyday life.
After Leah died, I knew instinctively that I would return to Samyama and to my sessions with D.
This time our sessions were all Samyama, helping me to meet the grief and unravel the overwhelming painful feelings that were threatening to suffocate me. I was able to meet the painful feelings, one at a time in my heart, and allow my heart to hold them, and eventually shift them. (In my book I share an account of one of our Samyama sessions during this time) When I saw how powerful Samyama was at helping me to meet my grief, right where it was, I entered an apprenticeship to be certified as a practitioner
It was during this time that I was invited into the Temple of the Sacred Feminine, a women’s mystery school led by Sheila Foster, who also created the Samyama certification apprenticeship. It was in my temple work that my understanding of presence grew, and my journey back to myself was nurtured. I was introduced to a community of women who were all at various stages in their own journeys. Together we were in service to each other and to the present moment.
My understanding of presence grew exponentially as I continued to meet my grief through Samyama, and during my four-year apprenticeship. At the completion of my apprenticeship, I was not yet ready to step into grief work, I was not far enough along on my own grief journey.
I began offering Samyama as a resource for daily living, much like I used it when I was first introduced to it. I was still working in my corporate job, and I offered sessions in the evening or on weekends. Even though I hadn’t asked for grief clients, around 75% of the clients I worked with, both during my apprenticeship and right after brought grief to our sessions.
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