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The poems below are intended to give you a feel for some of the key principles and practices of intentional presence....

For Unto Us This Day
in the City of David

Rhonda Mattern



The ego doesn't need to die

The mind doesn't need to die

The will doesn't need to die

Nothing needs to die


Something's dying to be born

Something's dying to float like milkweed

on a sudden gust of wind

Something's yearning to emerge

from warm, golden earth

With colors you have barely even dreamed

And songs that set your broken heart to singing


Let what's longing carry you away

Lean into what's always been alive

Pray to what is pouring from your eyes

Blind me with your dazzling beacon beauty


Bow to this for just one fleeting breath

And all of these things you think you have to kill

Will become wishing wells

And holy men

And sparrow song in the soft summer twilight


St. Francis and the Sow

Galway Kinnell​


The bud

stands for all things

even for those things that don't flower,

for everything flowers, from within, of self-blessing;

though sometimes it is necessary

to reteach a thing its loveliness,

to put a hand on its brow

of the flower

and retell it in words and in touch

it is lovely

until it flowers again from within, of self blessing;

as Saint Francis

put his hand on the creased forehead

of the sow, and told her in words and in touch

blessing of earth on the sow, and the sow

began remembering all down her thick length

from the earthen snout all the way

through the fodder and slops to the spiritual curl of the tail,

from the hard spininess spiked out from the spine

down through the great broken heart

to the blue milken dreaminess spurting and shuddering

from the fourteen teats into the fourteen mouths sucking

and blowing beneath them:

the long, perfect loveliness of sow.

Galway Kinnell, “Saint Francis and the Sow”

Source: Three Books (2002)

Copyright © 2002 by Galway Kinnell.

Reprinted with the permission of Houghton Mifflin Company.

All rights reserved,  




Booth Tarkington (adapted by Paul Twitchell)

I will forget the things that sting

The lashing look, the barked word

For I know the very hands that fling

The stones at me never stirred to anger

But for their own scars

They have suffered so that's why they strike

I shall keep my heart among the stars

Where none shall hunt it out

For like those wounded ones I must not be

For wounded I might strike in turn

So none shall hurt me, for I am free

And where my heart flies, no one shall learn




Every Part of Your Consciousness Is Valuable

The mind, emotions, and other fields of energy and information within us aren't destructive, bad, or unspiritual. Every part of the psyche plays an important function within the whole of our consciousness.  


Not knowing how to work skillfully with different parts of our awareness and the information flowing through it (emotions, thoughts, needs, beliefs, etc.) is what creates much of the suffering, violence, and limitation in the world.

Every scrap of your consciousness contains immense potential, wisdom, and creativity. Intentional presence offers skills to help you support this vast potential within you to blossom.



Seeing and Affirming Essential Qualities


Presence is a state of consciousness that allows us to see ourselves and others with compassion, appreciation, humility, and balanced perspective. Intentionally shifting into presence helps us to see past the surface of things to appreciate their essence and their wholeness.


As we view struggling and conflicted parts of ourselves and others from the compassionate depths of presence, we see their true essence and beauty. In this openhearted state, we begin to notice that even the most lost and struggling parts of ourselves are full of essential qualities like courage, wisdom, and sincerity.

As the poem says, "sometimes it is necessary to reteach a thing its loveliness." We call this skill "seeing and affirming essential qualities." 




Anchoring in Mindfulness 


During the state of consciousness that we call activation, different parts of our reactive awareness can temporarily take us over and drive us to do and say things we later regret. When people unconsciously shift into activation, they sometimes criticize or attack us. During such times we can learn to shift into mindfulness, a state of consciousness that  helps us to remain in a space of calm, spacious non-judgment so we don't take peoples' words and actions personally. From mindfulness, we can then shift into presence, a state that allows us to "keep our heart among the stars." Presence fills us with compassion, wisdom, and the grace of balanced perspective, and inspires others to join us there.

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