The Spiritual Journey of Being Present 

The Spiritual Journey of Being Present  June 19, 2024

The process of being present is a spiritual journey.

I was talking to a client about the contemplative life this morning. In the world of psychology and therapy, mindfulness is a huge attention getter, and everyone talks about it like it is some magical event. After twenty-seven years of practice, I can say that contemplative practice has been one of the best and the worst experiences I have had in my faith journey. While there are mountain top experiences, these are fleeting and most of the time, you spend more time in contemplation and meditation thinking about what you have experienced and what it means.  

Classically, I learned that there are four elements of the contemplative life, reading (lectio), prayer (oratio), contemplation (contemplatio) and meditation (meditatio).  

Being Present is a Spiritual Practice 

Being a therapist is a great practice of being present. I have a small Buddha across my office that reminds me often to take a deep breath and be present with my client in their moments of struggle.  

As a practice, learning how to be more present can enhance our contentment and balance our living in the past or the future. In Buddhism, we are told that we suffer because we cling. Jesus is attributed to tell us to “not worry.” Often, with my clients, I ask them, what are you thinking, now? Where are you, now? I will ask my clients to create anchor points, objects such as pictures or trinkets to remind them to come back to the moment.  

I have written on the importance of finding joy, see this previous post . Here, I looked at the psychological side of things. Finding some joy every day can be a source for an anchor point for you to guide you back to the present moment. In this post, I talk a lot about joy, and finding joy. I highlight here one practice that I feel can help you in your practice of being present, the practice of mudita. In my post, I suggest, “Mudita is described as an inner wellspring of joy that is always available, in all circumstances. It is extended to all beings, not just to those close to you. In the Mettam Sutta (Samyutta Nikaya 46.54) the Buddha said, “I declare that the heart’s release by sympathetic joy has the sphere of infinite consciousness for its excellence.” 

How the Holy Spirit helps us be Present   

The Holy Spirit is a divine presence (one of the elements of the Trinity) that guides and sustains us in our daily lives. This sustaining presence, when meditated on, helps us in our quest to remain present and connected to the sacred aspects of our existence.  

Before we look at how the Holy Spirt can aid us, let us briefly look at what the Holy Spirit is. When theologians speak of the three-in-oneness of God, they refer to Him as “the Trinity.” The Trinity is God the Creator, God the Son (Jesus) and God the Holy Spirit. When Christians talk about God coming to live in their hearts, it’s the Holy Spirit they are describing. The Bible describes the Spirit as the “breath” of God. (See 

Again, Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent Me, I am sending you.” And with that He breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”
(John 20:21-22) 

A common prayer that I often offer is “Come Holy Spirit …” Here I am asking for the guidance of the spirit in my life or the life of the person I am praying for.  

I like to think of the Holy Spirit as the breath of God. When I then feel my breath, I imagine feeling God breathing or the Holy Spirit moving through me. It is a reminder for me to slow down, breathe deeply and become aware of the moment I am in at the moment. This too can be your reminder to slow things down, take stock of where you are and why you are. “In this breath, come Holy Spirit and guide me in my next steps.” 

It is important here, in the spirit of deep ecumenism and religious pluralism to understand that everyone experiences their faith and their fatih journeys differently. This is my experience; it does not have to be yours. And that is okay.

The Holy Spirit Can Aid us in Fostering Presence 

  1. Be here now. The Holy Spirit can be a source of inner stillness. “Come Holy Spirit, quiet my mind, open the ears of my heart.” Stillness is the bedrock of presence. Allowing the Holy Spirit to envelop us allows us to be open to listen deeply to ourselves, to the presence of the divine in our lives and to the presence of the Christ in all around us.  
  2. “Come Holy Spirit, quiet my external ears and let me be open to your presence to find clarity and insight.” By focusing on the presence of the Holy Spirit, we can gain clarity and insight that helps us cut through the noise and clutter of our daily lives. Here, our focus becomes sharper as we learn to attend to our tasks and be more intentional.
  3. “Come Holy Spirit, move through my being and soften my rigid thought patterns so that I may see all people as potential seats of Christ.” By contemplating the Holy Spirit, we can begin to cultivate a compassionate awareness. This awareness helps us become more sensitive to the needs and emotions of those around us. This empathy deepens our connections and encourages us to be present with others in a supportive and loving way.
  4. “Come Holy Spirit, create in me a calm presence.” Life can be downright boring at times and some tasks we attend to daily are not much fun, regardless of what the influencers will tell you. There is a sacredness to the boring, the mundane.  Brother Lawrence, in his practices, we can see him embracing this embodiment of the Holy Spirit’s presence. Brother Lawrence shows that whether we are cooking, cleaning, or engaging in routine activities, the Holy Spirit invites us to practice presence and devotion in every action.
  5.  “Come Holy Spirit, guide me through the transformation of my mind.” The Holy Spirit works within us to transform our hearts and minds, helping us to release past hurts and worries about the future. This transformative power enables us to be more fully present, opening our hearts to the here and now with grace and acceptance.

Learning to being present is a process of becoming as is many spiritual practices. Some days you are more in tune than others. As you are learning, be gentle with yourself, mistakes and inconsistencies are part of the process.


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