In how much of our communication with others are we fully there?
If you ask what people want from most of their communication, many will say more clarity, better understanding, greater honesty – maybe even love? Underneath it all, what we really long for are deeper, more meaningful connections with others. Even when we’re not aware of consciously seeking it, most of us are growing less content with superficial human contact.
In many ways, technology and the transactional world (what can I get from this interaction?) are reshaping how we communicate – and how we expect to connect with others. When we experience the feeling of someone’s authentic (full) presence, we’re often taken aback by the nature of the interaction. It can seem too intimate and uncomfortable.
What does it mean to be fully present with others?
It’s hard to describe this feeling state. Unquestionably, what you feel, almost instantaneously, in another’s presence determines some level of trust (which is at the deepest level, our ability to feel safe with others) . You know it when you experience it. Whether we cognitively agree with the concept, studies show it is the unmistakable ingredient.
For me, it is the sense of connecting (even briefly) with some part of another’s real being – their essence. It’s unquestionably a transmission of energy. Bioenergy research at The National Institutes of Health (NIH) demonstrate levels of heart-rate synchronization in all communication. It’s already been established that mothers synchronize with their baby’s heart rate, even in utero.
The Institute of HeartMath’s research demonstrates that the heart, like the brain, generates a powerful electromagnetic field. Director of Research Rollin McCraty reports that “The heart generates the largest electromagnetic field in the body. The electrical field as measured in an electrocardiogram (ECG) is about 60 times greater in amplitude than the brainwaves recorded in an electroencephalogram (EEG).” The heart’s electromagnetic field contains certain information or coding, that’s transmitted throughout and outside of the body. One of the most significant findings of IHM’s research is that intentionally generated positive emotions can change this information/coding.
What Gets in the Way?
Being in our full presence with others is a choice. It’s a rare natural state for most of us – we have to work at it. Our full presence to anything, especially anyone, is impeded by many factors, often outside of our conscious awareness in any given moment.
In order to practice being more present in our communication, it’s important to understand what gets in the way. If our intention is to be present, fully “showing up,” understanding the how and what that stops us is our starting point.
One of the distinguishing hallmarks of being present is that experience feels spontaneous. There’s a flow to communication and awareness of the chronic internal reactivity that often dominates interpersonal interactions. You are present to your own moment to moment experience. You understand that the “knowing” that you are present arises out of presence itself.
What Enables Our Ability to be Present?
No matter how much you practice being more present, you never fully arrive. It is an art – a work in progress. Author Eckhart Tolle refers to it as a “choosing to emerge in a given moment.”
There are core qualities and abilities that are essential if we are to become more present to our own experience. A commitment to develop these qualities serves us in every area of our lives. They are fundamental to becoming more mindful.
The invitation to be present offers itself over and over. There are constant opportunities for practice. With every experience, you get the opportunity to get closer to your truth – and to offer that opportunity to others.
Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh once said “The most precious gift we can offer others is our presence.”
Louise Altman, Partner, Intentional Communication Consultants
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