Heal with Your Presence

Three Superpowers for Synergizing Body, Heart, and Mind

By Heath and Nicole Reed
[Savvy Self-Care]

One of our favorite practices—both on and off the table—is to play with the power of presence. Have you ever been experiencing a rough time, and then someone enters into your space and you immediately feel better? This is an example of how we can heal with our presence. In our experience, the most powerful healing occurs not because of what we do, but as a direct result of how we do it. Since we started team-teaching 17 years ago, we have advocated “your presence is more important than your techniques.” Here, we’d like to share some easy ways to juice up your presence and create more impactful connections and therapeutic results. We like to imagine these practices in ways that transmute the passive noun presence into the present-tense action verb presencing. If you’re willing, let’s play with some of our favorite presencing moves!

Grounding and Centering
Presencing is a superpower for synergizing your body, heart, and mind. It is the conscious direction of your attention to what is occurring in the here and now (rather than what happened before, might happen later, or some other daydream apart from the present). When we are present, we become more available to what is emerging, and more resourceful and open to infinite possibilities. Presencing sets in motion our creative energies by continually refreshing our attention within the current of the ever-changing now. Presencing fortifies a sense of feeling engaged and connected to what is and who we are with. And when we are present, we invite others to do the same. Our presence invites others to show up in powerful ways in their own unique presence. We heal with our presence.
Grounding and centering are examples of presencing moves. We experience these as opportunities to locate ourselves in space—not just the space below our feet (the ground), but locating ourselves within our body, our breath, and in the circulation of our attention (finding our center). And, as portals to presencing, grounding and centering allow us to give our sensitive attention to the foundation and fulcrum of all our relationships—inside and out.
We notice many massage therapists ground or center at the beginning and end of a session. Presencing is the invitation to ground throughout the entire bodywork session, all the way to the end. Presencing all the way through an event, a session, or any task minimizes miscommunication, disappointment, and confusion, and generates greater connection, positive impact, and mutual appreciation.
As we’ve evolved in our own practices, we’ve amplified our presencing moves catalog to include and go beyond grounding and centering. These moves are doorways to consciously healing with our presence. Though we imagine there are infinite presencing superpowers to explore, these three are among our favorites.

Easy Breathing
Easy breathing invites the natural currents of our energy and biology to merge and allow us to stay in the flow of what is emerging. As we notice our breath and encourage gentle, easy, and full breaths, we grow our present moment awareness. When our breath slows, our thoughts slow, and we experience more aliveness, sensitivity, creativity, and flow. Each exhalation is an invitation to let go of the past—to release what no longer serves us. And each inhalation is an opportunity to begin anew and reorient our intention toward what most inspires us. Easy breathing also moves us from fear to flow. We can use this same principle while noticing our client’s current relationship with stress and tension.
Notice how often your clients hold their breath when you’re working with an area of vulnerability or applying intense pressure. This is the fear or stress response in action. The good news is we can convert fear into excitement (for ourselves or others) by encouraging easy breathing. In fact, research demonstrates all it takes is three conscious breaths to shift our mind and body from fear to flow—from the fight-or-flight response and into the relaxation response.
Presence yourself (or your clients) by imagining you can breathe into an intense sensation, feeling, or experience. Around areas of pain or vulnerability, we often coach our clients, “I know you don’t have lungs in your hips (or your feet or low back), but can you send your breath into where you feel the most sensation?” Notice that breathing and expanding your awareness in this way creates more space, softens tension, and opens more opportunities to let go and recreate anew.

Opening Posture
Opening posture is letting go of unnecessary effort in your body. Unnecessary effort always leads to tension. As we become more economical and open with body movements and postures, we invite more ease and spaciousness into our sessions. For example, when we soften our shoulders and release our jaw, we convey all is well to our nervous system.
Opening posture in our sessions invites us to relax the same part of our body that we are working on with our client. As you work their neck, can you also relax and lengthen your own neck? As you coach your client to imagine their muscles releasing their grip from the bones, can you also embody this in your own posture? These practices create a bonus in soothing both our own and our client’s body. Tension in our body is a direct indication we are not in flow; release tension with an opening posture and notice how easy it is to ride the waves of ease and flow.

Turning Toward
Turning toward is the practice of facing an intense feeling or experience (like being with pain) as though we were sharing company with a best friend. Turning toward requires we sustain our attention with a client, family member, or stranger throughout the entire arc of communication (even if you totally disagree with them). Turning toward is the act of giving our most valuable resource—our attention—to what is occurring or who is with us. And turning toward requires we include and turn our attention to ourselves. How do you notice yourself?
Turning toward asks us or our clients, “Can you be with that tension, irritation, or pain in your body-mind as though you were being with your best friend?” or, “Without criticism, blame, or judgment, are you willing to give your generous and loving attention so that you might begin to befriend all your body sensations?” Simply asking yourself (or your clients) these two questions shifts resistance from a context of enemy patterning into cooperation, collaboration, and friendliness with our bodies and lives.

The Slipstream of Life  
Easy breathing, opening posture, and turning toward act like superpowers that transform our healing context from pushing through and doing to into co-creating and being with. Presencing moves generate more aliveness, positivity, and connection by encouraging us to befriend what is, rather than resisting or numbing out (fighting or fleeing) what is happening.
When we presence through happy times or challenging times, we enter the easy slipstream of life. As you finish reading this article, notice your breathing and your body posture, and direct your focus by asking, “Where is my attention?” and, “Do I want to move it in a new way?” Getting curious and following where your attention goes reveals the magical and amazing possibilities of how you can heal yourself and others with your presence.

Heath and Nicole Reed are co-founders of Living Metta (living “loving kindness”) and want everyone in the world to enjoy the experience of befriending their body. The Reeds lead workshops and retreats across the country and overseas, including Thailand and Mexico, and have been team-teaching touch and movement therapy for 17 years. In addition to live classes, the Reeds offer massage therapy and self-care videos, DVDs, and online trainings, found online at www.livingmetta.com. This article was written in happy inspiration from www.hendricks.com.