When most people, particularly in the West, think of yoga, they picture a form of gym, a series of movements and poses that help one get in touch with one’s inner energy, a way to become stronger and more flexible. Indeed, that is one way of looking at yoga, and Yoga of Presence could be seen as a gym class. But there is also much more to it than that.
Originally a Sanskrit word, Yoga has several meanings. One of the most used translations is derived from the word yok – to tie, to put together, to unify. In other words, to harmonize.
A different translation is simply practice – any kind of practice is a yoga.
By putting these two translations together, the way I like to use the word yoga is as the practice that brings about harmony in both, the body and the mind. This harmony is what allows us to perceive, to notice, to be interested in Presence.
But what is Presence?
There are two kinds of presence.
1) On the one hand, presence is akin to attention.
We live our life completely unaware of the present moment, lost in the past and the future, regretting the former, fearing the latter. We need to bring attention into the present moment, and by doing this we will discover that we suffer not because of what happens to us, but because of what we believe is happening. We discover that our problems are not outside, in people or situations, but in our own thinking. We never see a world outside; all we ever see are our thoughts about that world.
This kind of presence requires an effort, an action, a practice, and an aspect of Yoga of Presence is dedicated to this practice.
With attention, we can attract wisdom, which creates a more beautiful, peaceful, happy mind and as a consequence, a more happy life.
2) With a quiet mind, another option opens up. Because the mind is not so worried, preoccupied and busy with problems, the space to ask some basic, essential questions opens up:
What is life? What am I doing here? Who am I?
And the answer to these questions is the recognition of another kind of Presence. This Presence is not something I have, but it is the essence of what I am.
The recognition of this second kind of Presence is done in three stages. Here’s a brief explanation of them:
A) The first stage is the recognition that there is a Presence or Awareness – a witness – that is distinct from the mind.
B) The second stage is the recognition of this Presence – this witness – as ‘I am’. It is the realization that if there is awareness, that awareness must actually be who I really am since ‘I am the one that is aware’.
C) The third stage is the recognition of the nature of this awareness, the fact that this awareness is not personal, but universal; that it is not created inside the head, but that it is unborn, eternal, ever present. This recognition is also the recognition of freedom.
This second kind of presence is different from the first one because it does not need to be attained, but only recognized as what is always here, always alive, always aware.
And so, Yoga of Presence can be defined as the practice to harmonize the body and the mind in order to recognize, assimilate and embody Presence.