Moments of Presence

I remember being on a family road trip once and stopping at a picnic ground. My 11-year-old self stood overlooking a pond encircled by weeping willows and geese. I took a bite of my cheese-and-mustard sandwich…and the flavors exploded in my mouth. The sharp creaminess, the sourness. How had I never noticed how good cheese and mustard tasted? I felt so awake, so alive. I savored each bite in slow motion.

Most of us can probably remember a moment like this, when our chattering brains quieted down and something else came forward, something profoundly alive and aware. A moment of presence, of being. These moments were easier in childhood, I think, easier before adult responsibilities, before trauma took its toll.

Boulders in the path

For me, it’s been a long journey back to moments of presence. One of my biggest obstacles was trauma.

Trauma drove me out of my body for a long time. When I finally learned to come back, I found my body revving like a race car, ready to jump at the slightest sound, mind and nervous system scanning ten steps ahead for danger or freaking out over stuff that made no sense…now.   

Unresolved trauma makes it so hard to be in your body—versus your head or the stratosphere. The body is where the aftermath of trauma is stored. Why would you want to hang out with that? But the body is also where life happens. Where now happens. Without awareness in your body, there’s no presence.

Bodywork helped me

My first time trying to meditate went about as well as you’d expect. I was jumping out of my skin. I needed more help than sitting alone with my trauma symptoms. I was fortunate to find bodywork, which helped me safely re-connect with my body, and craniosacral therapy specifically, which became a lifelong practice in presence.

Craniosacral therapy is, fundamentally, about being present with my inner stuff—both the luminous and the painful—in a grounded and coherent enough way that I can be present with your inner stuff. I was terrible at it at first, but I loved it so much I kept trying. Eventually, I improved.  

Over the years, somatic bodywork has opened me up to positive experiences in my body—pleasure, empowerment, wholeness. And from these bigger, more comfortable, more regulated places, it’s been easier to sit with and transform the trauma pieces.

Slipping into being

Lately, I find myself more often slipping into a different state of being. I would have called it lazy before. Now it feels languid. Like there’s room to breathe.

I can sometimes float back to my 11-year-old’s ease, marveling at how good the rain smells through our window screen, slipping into being.

Leave a Reply