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
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
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, www.houghtonmifflinbooks.com
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.