Presence is the natural state of Self. Presence is simple, open, spacious, and alive. And, yet many of us are baffled by it. “How do I get it? we ask.” How can it be natural when I’ve spent my whole life wrapped up in my emotions, stories, and thoughts that keep me busy all day and, sometimes, all night, too?”

I invite you to view Eckhart Tolle  giving us his simple, lively, funny, and deep teaching about Presence at the Wisdom 2.0 Conference held February 14 – 16, 2014 in San Francisco. Click here for Presence with Eckhart Tolle


The Body Knows

The body knows. Walking into a room of strangers, the body senses the situation directly. We don’t think, “I need to check this out.”  The body automatically scans the situation; and sensing the situation knows how it feels about it.

As it happens, we often don’t pay attention to the information our bodies relay to us. Perhaps this is so because the information comes in what we think is a messy way. The stomach feels queasy. There is a tightness in the throat. A pressure in the ears. Or perhaps we sigh, take a deep breath, or feel the heart beating faster or slower or feel our whole insides opening up!

The information comes about the situation and about what we feel about the situation. Walk into a room of strangers and what happens? The body scans the room noticing who is at the center and who is at the periphery. It notices who is at ease, who is tense, and who is shy; and who is smiling, laughing, or frowning. It senses who makes it feel uneasy, or worried, or scared. And, it senses who is welcoming. The body responds with a tightness in the chest, a queasiness in the stomach, or a jumping heart beat, or a turning in, a rolling, or a stammer and there is always something more, something that we can’t quite put into words but is there.

We may say, “I had a hunch about that situation,” or, “I had a feeling about that person.” Indeed, we did and our body let us know. We can’t say how we know. We just know.

When we are in touch with our bodies, we can respectfully connect with our bodily sensing and use the information it gives us to help us navigate situations, keep us safe and at ease, create new ideas, and even dive into new ventures. To gain benefit from the information, we notice what comes forth with interested curiosity. For example, suppose I walk into a room and notice everyone crowding around someone talking about her latest project. I can’t hear what she is saying but I notice that there is a little queasiness in my stomach and I notice that I don’t like that and that there is something about the person’s energy that doesn’t sit right but can’t be put into words. In this moment, something is coming with which I can have a relationship and which I can explore with interested curiosity. I can find out more about the person, the situation, and about myself by listening to what these somethings, this queasiness in my stomach AND this energy that doesn’t sit right, say or show me about the person, situation and myself.

Getting in touch with the body in this way can be enlightening, empowering, and freeing. Try this. The next time you enter a place full of people (it can at work, at the supermarket, or on the bus), take in the space around you and then bring your awareness inside to that middle space in your body–the throat, the chest, the diaphragm, the stomach, the belly. Allowing your awareness to rest there gently invite what wants your awareness now to come. Just sense what’s there. And when something comes, say” Hello, I see you are there.” And notice how it feels when you say that.

This is a first step of getting to know these fluid, life forward processes that have so much to share with us and help us in so many ways.

Crowd San Francisco


Thoughts. Where do they come from? Where do they go? And what leads one to another? Why do they keep appearing and dissolving? Why do they never stop? What’s the mechanism producing this constant rising and falling away? It’s not as though we can point to any place in the brain and say, “This is where it all happens!”

Some thoughts rise up out of memories, some appear out of thin air, and others pop into our consciousness in an “aha moment.” When we are solving a problem, we use the power of our brains, in particular, the frontal cortex, to “think.” We analyze, relate, and create. But, what about other times when unorganized and disconnected thoughts tumble into our consciousness? Perhaps we’re just having a cup of coffee and looking at the leaves falling from the tree outside the window. Thoughts come any way. Perhaps at this moment they arise from memories of other trees or other cups of coffee or perhaps not. Thoughts about the dirty dishes left in the sink or a friend who hasn’t returned a text message we sent him may take us far away from the cup of coffee and leaves falling from the tree.

Sometimes a thought appears because we’re on the same wavelength with another person. We pick up information (become entangled with someone) and the thought occurs to us. We saw this example last week when we talked about synchronicity. Suddenly I’m thinking of a friend for no reason. The phone rings. It’s the friend on the line.

Thoughts often have a way of bothering us. We may not want to think particular thoughts but in they come, invited or not. We can be so disturbed by them that we become distressed; we want to run away from them; or we yearn to fall asleep. Sleep may be acceptable at bedtime, but not in the middle of the day. What are we to do? Where’s the on/off switch?

There are no muscles, like those that control our bladders, that turn on and off thoughts. But, we can be with them in such a way that they are there without causing us any distress or interest at all. That’s what we do in meditation. When we focus on the breath, thoughts rise and fall away, but we pay no attention to them. In the beginning, we can nod to each one as it appears by saying, “Thought,” and then return to focusing on the breath. After awhile, we don’t feel the need to make this acknowledgement. We simply allow them to do what they do without showing interest, or interacting, or reacting to them. After a few minutes, the space within us grows bigger; we become calmer and more centered. The thoughts are still there, but they have receded into the background like wallpaper in a room that we’ve become accustomed to. We give them no notice and if asked, “What was that thought?” Well, we have no idea. So, in this way, we turn off thoughts.

The Intuitive Mind

The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift. —Albert Einstein

When I was younger, I neglected my intuition. Working hard to make it in what, at that time, was a predominantly male profession, I rebelled at anything with a perceived pejorative label. “That’s just your female intuition,” the subtext of which was, “You’re a woman; you can’t possibly think logically,” was one. I was not alone; women, like me,  everywhere were doing the same.

Meanwhile, men, repelling the notion that anything with a feminine label, like intuition, could be of any use in their experience of the world or fearing that they might be shunned by colleagues friends, and family, also rejected it.

So, in the large, intuition was shunted off to a forgotten corner of experience. But, not by all. Many scientific and artistic types continued to use it to gain insight and reach the breathtaking “aha” of discovery. They, like Einstein, cultivated its use and honed their ability to meld the powers of the rational and analytical with the wisdom of the intuitive. Thank goodness; revelation and discovery continued.

We don’t need to be physicists, mathematicians, or artists, to use our intuition to our benefit. Our intuition is our innate, inner wisdom. It is knowing without knowing why. Using our intuitive knowledge, we can make better decisions, reach deeper understanding, experience our world more richly, heal, and reside more fully in balance.

Some believe that some have it and others don’t. We all have it. Intuition is baked into everyone of us. We can choose to use it or not. We can develop it just like we develop our powers of analysis. Intuition is like a sense; from a stimulus we experience something: a sight, a sound, a taste, a texture, a fragrance.  And, just as our five senses guide and advise us, so does our intuition. Some call intuition the sixth sense.

This week tune into your intuition. Become aware. Be open to its many forms, but don’t get too hung up about it. Here are a few ways we generally experience it without any effort:

  • A gut feeling in the belly about something or someone;
  • A deja vu experience in which you feel you have already witnessed an experience that is happening to you in the moment;
  • Having someone you are thinking about, call you in  just in that instant, and quite possibly saying,”I was just thinking about you;”
  • On meeting someone for the first time, receiving important information about them, their personality or behavior. “Watch out for this person,”  or “Get to know this person;”
  • A feeling, a knowing about something or someone, or some event;
  • Seeing colors, patterns or images that bring understanding or meaning.

Be gentle and open. Don’t try too hard. Intuition comes to us sometimes like a lighting bolt, sometimes like a soft breeze, and fades away just quickly. If you find yourself thinking hard, it’s probably just that, thinking. When intuition happens and you notice,  jot down a few notes. What did it feel like? How did it come to you? What information did it give you? How did you act on that information? At the end of the week, go back to your notes, feeling the intuitive experience again through them.

Have a lovely time getting to know your intuition.