Existence, Waking Presence

Coral Gables Counseling Center - Thursday, December 20, 2018
By Carolina Pataky, LMFT
These last couple of years, I’ve become incredibly grateful for the life I’ve had. This includes all my past and present experiences, along with every single person that’s ever walked in and out of my life. This gratitude includes and extends to my awakening presence to what surrounds us every given moment. From the soil, plants, animals, stars, sun, moon and to all the vastness of the universe, the list goes on and on. On one end, this deep gratitude has led me to a profound presence of oneness with existence. I have come to realize how perfect the universe works. On the other side, this deep omnipresent connection to my existence has also awakened me to the reality of time and its mortal physical presence.

Unexpectedly, somehow, just like that, this existential spirit emerged in my life. This is where I find myself today. I’ve asked myself if this revelation is a part of what happens when you are in your 40’s, as I am now. I question if it unravels because of age, experiences or perhaps finding out you have a life threatening illness. Whatever it may be, I have to say the impact from the here and now to my views regarding life and death has been profound and more present for me today than it ever has been. Although, I find most individuals shun from keeping this core truth present to their daily lives, the presence of mortality for me has been profoundly positive and a powerful gift. It is allowing me to cherish life to the fullest, being fully aware of my every moment and my every breath.

I have found that consciously acknowledging mortality has brought rebirth to my every moment, allowing me to deeply acknowledge the eyes of those other beings that share a space with me even if just for a few passing seconds. Thank you for being present on this journey with me – we are here together.

This has given me a new approach to life that I’d like to share so that you can also tap into this connection to life if you choose to do so. Keeping this duality of life and death present will help you slow life down, as you pause and take in its every moment. For example, this can be as simple as being at the grocery and allowing yourself to take a moment to acknowledge the cashier or the person wrapping your groceries. Also, create simple rituals of presence with your loved ones. One ritual I personally practice every night before I go to sleep is allowing my partner to hold me before I close my eyes while I become fully present to him and the life we share. What a precious gift! Becoming present has a simple ritualistic aspect requiring you to consciously choose to experience life fully while acknowledging others. I’d recommend making a list of 3 rituals you want to practice daily and trying it for 30 days.

After deciding on your rituals, one of the most powerful tools to presence is your breath. After all, you would not be living without breathing. As I have come to learn, the word breath and its associations has been used interchangeably in many cultures and languages. It has been referred to as life, life force and spirit. More specifically in Indian literature, the word prana meant physical breath and air in addition to “essence of life.”  In Chinese medicine, the word chi means the natural air we breathe, along with “energy of life.” And in Hebrew, the word Rauch means both breath and life.

As you see breathing is a vital component to life. For that reason, your relationship with it is essential to stress reduction, health, managing emotions, and the first step to becoming present to oneself. One way to begin improving your relationship with it, is to consciously connect to your breathing. Your breath allows you to settle into your body allowing you to calm your nervous system, feel more centered, and become more open to receive the presence of your surroundings. So when you try and incorporate your rituals, you are practicing and developing a stronger conscious connection to yourself and ultimately others.

With that being said, I invite you to take a moment to practice connecting to your spirit, life force and the essence of life. First, bring all your attention to your breath, just notice how you are breathing. Then, allow yourself to slow your breath down by exhaling from the mouth. As you breathe, place one had on your belly to make sure you are deep belly breathing. As you continue bring your focus to your breath. Notice your belly move as you breathe. Do this for a couple of minutes and then ask yourself the following questions:

  • Can you hear yourself?
  • What are you neglecting?
  • Can you feel yourself?
  • Who was the last person that you looked at and acknowledged?

Continue noticing your breath and allow yourself to connect with whatever is coming up. Be with it, without judgment and just allow thoughts and feelings to come up. Let yourself feel as your breath flows through each and every one of your cells.
Answering these questions will add quality to your life as you become centered within yourself. Practicing this allows you to start understanding what it takes to fully experience your existence. It will help you become mindful and more in tune to your inner compass. In time, it will help you embrace every one of your breaths and connect to each present moment your breath is gifting you.

So what are you waiting for? The gift of life has already been given to you.

   There is no greater gift this holiday season than to share a mindful connection with others – present with us or not. (Carolina Pataky, LMFT) But if the holidays do feel lonely, use the breath to connect to your essence and your presence. Allow it to guide, provide, and continue to teach. New, richer moments will come with each conscious breath. Practice your rituals and become present to your here and now. As you connect with your breath and learn to live in the present, you will no longer need unmaintainable New Year’s resolutions, you will have everything within your grasp through each breath you take.


What daily rituals do you want to try out for 30 days?