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Learning the Art of Presence

Buddha pathHow often are you really present?  I don’t mean just there in the flesh, I mean there with your heart and soul and eyes and everything that you are and more?

I’m reading Eckardt Tolle’s “The Power of Now” and I am again reminded of just what a small amount of time I spend in the present moment.  It is as if my feet are planted but my thoughts are spinning and tumbling from one connection to the next to the next without me even be aware.  For those of you with ADHD, I am sure you understand what I am talking about.

I think this was developed as a defensive mechanism when I was a child.  When I got scared, my brain detached and went into its own mode to create a safe haven in a place of chaos.  It served me well as a child, as it kept me alive when I sensed danger.  Unfortunately, as I got older, it was that same mechanism that would potentially kill me.

Not being fully present as I got older turned into drinking excessively, smoking, relationships, drugs, continual running, bulimia, emotional eating, speeding, my marriage and subsequent divorce.   It was virtually impossible for me to sit through and observe myself and my pain, I was in so much denial of what my life had been up until that point and felt I could not handle the pain if I were to see it for what it really was – raw and naked in the light of day.  The reality is that escape made my life worse than it ever would have been had I managed to deal with the pain as I needed to do so.

So when I say the art of presence, it really is an art for me.  It is a craft, a skill that takes continual monitoring and shaping and beauty and patience and creativity.

It takes reading Tolle’s books to understand the meaning of being present, learning your personal signs for knowing when you are not present, and realizing what being truly present means to you.  Some people may really like to notice the details of their environment.  Others engage their sense of smell.  For me it could be as simple as feeling my feet touch the ground and a gentle smile on my face.

I find that the more present I am in life, the happier I am and the more able I am to share my love with others.  Sometimes it sucks because I lose out on some things I loved to do, but overall it has led me to be a more beautiful, good, sincere, content and real person.  I only wish I had understood this all earlier.

The good news, is that it is never, never, never, never too late.

Creative Commons License photo credit: AlicePopkorn

Learning the Art of Presence

Kathryn Goetzke

I own a company called the Mood-factory (, a company that creates products based on how sensory experiences effect moods. I also run a nonprofit for depressio, iFred (, we are working to change the brand of depression. And yes, I have ADHD, along with PTSD, major depressive disorder, and a host of other challenges, opportunities, and gifts.

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APA Reference
Goetzke, K. (2011). Learning the Art of Presence. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 22, 2020, from


Last updated: 9 Jan 2011
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