The intimacy I have towards myself creates an intimacy with the person, object or event I am present to.
Being singularly present to someone or something is to enter through the door of intimacy. If I am present to you and only you, I am also aware of all that is taking place around me, but I am not invested in it. The intimacy born out of Singular Attention opens the heart to the person, the situation, or event we are present to, creating a deep feeling of appreciation of the external experience. (Read: What is Singular Attention?)
I recall my brother Gary watching his eight year-old son running around the garden chasing a soccer ball. There was a serene, contented smile on Gary’s face, a slight tearing in his eyes, an air of pride about him. You could see that in that moment he was in full appreciation of the gift of having a son. Singular Attention only lasted a few minutes for Gary because his wife called for him in the next room and he had to give his attention over to her. But in those short moments of intimacy with his son, though nothing was being said – Gary’s heart opened.
Presence born from Singular Attention creates intimacy. Intimacy opens the heart to the person, the situation or event we are present to. It is the feeling of full appreciation of the experience.
Have you been on the other end of Singular Attention Presence? When someone is fully present to you, you feel seen and safe. It is a deeply calming experience. This mix of safety, feeling seen, and calmness may provide the permission to consider opening up, sharing yourself in deeper ways, even being vulnerable, all because the person on the other end is providing sufficient Presence to do so. This doesn’t ensure that you will immediately open up to intimacy. It may take time to trust the experience and therefore the opening up is gradual over time.
When my students have had some experience of Presence and being with other students in the course who are now holding Presence, I ask them the question, how is it to be on the other end of Presence? They tell me that being around someone who is present to them is a feeling of safety and calm, an experience of being seen and feeling understood, of trust and security. Many say they feel safe enough to consider taking a risk. The risk is the willingness to become vulnerable and share deeper and more intimate aspects of themselves to the person in Presence. This doesn’t ensure everyone will immediately open themselves up to this level of intimacy. It may take time to trust the experience and therefore the opening up may be gradual over time.
Generally, Presence is a very attractive experience, to the extent that for some it may fill a deep longing and hunger they have always carried: the fulfillment of the desire to have their existence truly acknowledged.
In my relationships, when I am present to myself, I will be more able to share my experiences to those I am present to. When I am self-observant and therefore intimate with myself, I am more willing to share and express deeply to those who have the willingness and capacity to hear me in this intimate way. I may tell you about my innermost feelings, of my deepest and darker secrets, of experiences I hold shame about and leave me vulnerable. This is self-honesty. It is being authentic.
There is often an in-bred risk to authenticity, because often we expect those with whom we share authentically will reject us. When this fear is dominant it holds us back from being authentic. If the person we are sharing with is not present to the feelings and experiences occurring for him he may potentially be more reactive and he may well reject us. However, over time, as I become more self-observant, I become more accepting of myself. As I become more self-accepting I hold less of myself back and I bring more of who I am forth. I experience more confidence in myself. I am more willing to take the risk of rejection. And if you do not accept me, it matters less because I accept me.
Self-acceptance, or authenticity within, creates more authentic relationships. It is inevitable. If I am prepared to be more authentic and honest with myself I will want the same from those I relate to. This does not mean I will reject all relationships that do not meet my standards. As we will discuss in later chapters, Presence opens the door to greater tolerance. As we learn to be present and therefore more accepting of ourselves, we become more accepting of the limitations of others. At the same time, I will seek out more authentic forms of relationships – and it is likely that from these I will derive my greatest satisfaction and fulfillment.
Some of my students may tell the class that to be on the other end of presence feels weird, uncertain and even scary. After some investigation we discover that this is often due to the fact that this level of attention is unfamiliar, or it reminds them of a time when the attention of another led to a traumatic event. When we hear this story, we are present to it. We as a class are present to the emotions that may arise in the telling. We hold our ground. We avoid running away from the emotions, or attempt to divert the person’s attention away from them, or try to fix them. We also are aware of the parts of ourselves that have the urge to do that and sometimes we have to take action, present inner boundaries, reason with these parts, tend to them, help them feel safer, so that they settle down and allow us to return to our Authentic Self experience. As a class, we are aware of our own experiences as they are occurring, and this allows us to be deeply present to the person before us. (Read: What are parts?)
In any relationship, whether personal or intimate, whatever and however the person before me is sharing, whether she or he is my client, my friend or my wife, I hold presence, in doing so I create safety. Without necessarily saying anything, I am conveying:
“I accept you, I am interested in you and what you are telling me, and I am in acceptance of you and the experiences that have brought you here – as I accept myself and all of the experiences that have brought me to be who I am sitting before you today.”
Have you ever had the experience of someone being singularly attentive or fully present to you? How was it for you to be on the other end of fully presence or singular attention?
In your experience, does singular attention deepen intimacy?
What would be your definition of intimacy? Would you expect that definition to differ for other people – or not?
Is intimacy limited to love or potential love relationships? Or can intimacy potentially be a product of other forms of relationships?
Leave a comment on one or all of these questions, or anything else that arises from reading the blog. Let us know your views.
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Join me next Friday for a continued discussion of Presence and the emergence of Leadership and learn:
Why each one and everyone of us are born with inherent leadership abilities
I wish you well,