I recently attended a talk on the subject of Facing Loss which was part of this year’s Cheltenham Literary Festival. This is a subject I have experience of both personally and professionally and I acknowledge the enormous impact loss of our loved ones may have on our current and future lives.
A theme which emerged from the speakers’ discussion was around the quality of Presence and the language used by those we meet in the aftermath of our loss. Each recognised that family, close friends, and acquaintances sometimes struggled to respond in ways that they found helpful and comforting.
So what does it mean to be Present, both in relationship to others and to ourselves. The core of our Presence is in our connection to all that is, and we each may attain this in different ways. In stillness we are able to access our inner wisdom, and as we come home to our centre we take the opportunity to recalibrate – physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Listening with an open heart we become consciously aware of the subtle sensations of our physical body and our developing self-awareness and self-compassion allows us to be transparent and authentic in relation to others.
I am reminded of the quote by Rachel Remen “Our humanity is more powerful than our expertise” and our benevolent presence and compassionate awareness allows us to hold our companion and be alongside her through her pain and distress, without judgement or embarrassment.
In opening our heart centre more fully we allow our companion to be vulnerable and to trust in that felt sense of Presence that allows each soul to unfold in its own time and unique way. Our sensitivity, kindness and skilled listening is a blessing as we hold in grace our companion’s pain.
I vividly recall the sudden death of my mum and in particular the support I received when I reached a particularly low point in my grief. This is what I wrote in my journal:
“This lovely young woman sat calmly and patiently as I spoke. Time seemed to stop, and I sensed she was completely present as I described the deep pain I felt in that moment. She conveyed empathy through her body language and there was a softness about her. I recall that she didn’t say a great deal but had a kind smile and tranquil presence which made me feel safe, held and understood. At intervals she would pass me tissues and remove those used without comment. Her whole demeanour was compassionate and supportive, as benevolent a presence as I have ever experienced. I feel blessed to have met this young woman who offered me her deep humanity that day without reservation, a wave of grace I hadn’t expected, but will always be grateful for.”
My wish is that you too come to know the healing power of Presence in your life – that which allows our collective souls to sing.
In future Blogs I will share with you some tools and practices which enable us to cultivate the quality of benevolent Presence in our daily lives.