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What Is Presence? Eckhart Tolle on Being in the Present Moment

Living in the present moment is the key to developing a sense of profound bliss, love, and unity with everything in the universe.

While this is a worthy goal, what does it really mean to be present and to live in the moment? In this post we’ll take a look at Eckhart Tolle’s teachings on presence and how to practice living in the present moment.

The Meaning of Presence

At it’s core, presence is awareness.

Nothing real ever changes. At the heart of everything is a timeless, Eternal sense of Beingness. This “Is-ness” is universal energy, the very fabric of energy that comprises everything that exists.

Since you exist, you are already (and always will be) a part of this timeless, eternal essence. When we talk about presence, we’re talking about your recognition of this fact. Presence, then, reflects your own awareness of your true, eternal essence.

When you are truly present, you get rid of the pain body, and lead a life of joy, rather than suffering. You become more loving, more compassionate, and more understanding about the connection between you and All That Is.

Presence vs. The Present Moment

Presence is distinct from the present moment. The present moment is also known as The Eternal Now, or, simple, The Now.

The Now is a gateway to presence, but it is not presence. For example, you can exist in The Now without being aware that you are existing in the current moment. The recognition of The Now, is presence.

In the video below, Eckhart discusses the difference between your temporal, physical self, and your timeless, eternal self. Understanding the dichotomy in these two forms, the connection between them, is to live in conjunction with your Higher Self and experience a sense of presence in this moment.

Seminar Video: The Essence of Presence

Watch this video to hear Eckhart explain the true essence of presence. The clip is from a retreat on deepening presence in your life.

Eckhart Tolle Quotes on Presence

“Presence is the key to freedom, so you can only be free now.”

“You can’t think about presence, and the mind can’t understand it. Understanding presence is being present.”

“Presence is when you’re no longer waiting for the next moment, believing that the next moment will be more fulfilling than this one.”

Present Moment Meditation

Here is a very simple meditation you can use to center yourself in the present moment. It only takes 5 minutes, and is a great technique for beginners and experienced meditators alike. The practice is one of recognizing: “Now, I am breathing in. Now, I am breathing out.”

You may also want to try this guided meditation for letting go of the past.

Present Moment Reminders

The key to staying present in the moment is to remember to come back to your state of heightened awareness. I always say that the act of becoming present is not difficult. The difficulty lies in our ability to practice it as we move through our daily lives.

To help with this, one technique you can use is to create a series of present moment reminders. This can be anything from setting a specific time to meditate every day, to using a gemstone or other symbol you keep with you, remembering to focus on presence whenever you touch it. The point is: set up actions that will remind you to become present, and then use simple breath exercises or mindfulness techniques to center into the moment.

Another tactic that works well is to focus on the ways in which you can simplify your life. When you declutter your everyday routine, you give yourself more space and time to reflect on your inner joy. Without as many external distractions, you will find it easier to remain present, more consistently.

Practicing Presence at Work

Work can be on of the most challenging areas to practice presence. Faced with a situation in which we often need to balance external, worldly goals and ambitions with people you may or may not enjoy the company of, it is a prime opportunity to learn how to let go of your ego’s desires and learn how to be present and live in the now by focusing on the love, appreciation, and gratitude.

Read more about practicing loving kindness and compassion at work.

Deepening Presence in Relationships

If you want to deepen presence in your close relationships, one of the key practices to master is to learn to identify the demands your ego places on the relationship.

Even when we are dealing with people we love very much (perhaps especially when dealing with people we love very much), our ego has a tendency to create certain subtle demands. Without realizing it, we place conditions on the love we express, and, often in a very subtle way, cause pain and separation because our love is conditional. Our ego forces us to become lost in suffering. Presence is the route out of that suffering.

To deepen your connection with others, then, you need to practice letting go of the expectations you hold of them. This can be a very intense and intimate process of honoring another’s true calling, and seeing how they are striving, just as you are, to grow spiritually through the experiences of this world.

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