In this world of mobile devices where the urgency to connect is often placed at a high value, we have become a society of people who are giving only our partial presence and attention to our interactions with other people.
This has become the norm such that people do not consider it rude or inconsiderate, in middle of conversations, to direct their attention to other things going on in their background environments as they talk on their mobile devices. It creates an energy of the split mind–lack of presence–and certainly creates an energy imbalance if the other person is giving to you full presence and attention.
Mindfulness training teaches us that one of the greatest gifts we can offer to another human being is our full presence. It is in this space of fullest presence that we truly are open to seeing, hearing and appreciating each other profoundly. When our attention is split, we just cannot give another person’s soul full honor.
I’ve learned this lesson well in my work sitting with clients who are in hospice care and facing the final moments of their lives.
In those moments when one is dancing between a final tangible breath and a transition to being in the spirit world, it is extremely comforting and loving to have someone who is willing to just be fully present to hold the hand or just sit and gaze into eyes.
Imagine for a moment how unkind it would be in a moment like that to suddenly take a cell phone call, read a text, or start chatting with other people in the next room. It is unthinkable. Yet we do this all the time in everyday life.
Yet, it shouldn’t take the dire circumstances of near-death to inspire us to move through life with fuller presence and be willing to give and receive this gift of the undivided mind and spirit in our daily lives.
We have the choice to connect with others more meaningfully.
This is why I rarely talk to people while driving or multi-tasking. Rarely, I may schedule an appointment while in my car if that is urgent, but I will always say, “I’m so sorry but I’m in my car so a bit distracted and happy to call you back when I can be more present to you.” Or if it is a friend, I will let the person know, “I’m a road where there’s not much traffic but I am somewhat distracted because I am in car.”
Thus, I inform others that I truly value being fully present and give the other person the option to either continue to talk to me in this more distracted state or schedule another time to connect when I can be more present. It is a very different space then forcing that distracted state on others, essentially communicating: “I expect you to be okay with me offering to you partial presence because my life is so busy.”
I have created a community of friends who are equally committed to creating experiences of interactions with full presence, such that it doesn’t even feel natural now to engage people who are not in a similar space.
In setting this fuller presence as an intention, and in being willing to say to those who are not in that same space, “No thank you–I’ll pass on the more superficial experience of being interacted with while you are driving in your car, attending an art fair, shopping in the grocery store,” I have discovered the deep richness of creating interactions that allow our souls to talk rather than just our mouths to communicate.Thus, my life blooms in new ways with these friendships, and in ways that are just not possible when people are giving each other only partial presence.
Take a moment today and notice how many times you are fully present to those in your life. How awake are you in terms of paying full attention to see, appreciate and celebrate those in your life? How much are you being honored by full attention and presence from others who value you enough to give you full presence?