Jean M. DiGiovanna

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Beyond Gratitude – Giving Presence

Posted on Nov 26, 2012

By Jean DiGiovanna

Thanksgiving has always been a time to reflect on what we are thankful for. It is not only important to do that for ourselves, but to show gratitude toward others, especially in this day and age of high-speed, high-tech but not necessarily high-touch. What can often happen, though with holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas is they become commercialized and it becomes all about what we should make for dinner and what presents to buy for our kids and next thing we know, the meaning goes out the door and we disconnect from each other.

It’s during this time that I have had the opportunity to reflect on the fact that I am still alive. I am healthy. And, I have the ability to be with those I love. I can support them, care for them and be there simply because I can. There is something I believe is even more important than gratitude and that is being present for another. Being completely there for them, seeing and hearing them in whatever state they are in and not judging them.

As human beings, we each crave to be seen and heard and most of all, to be understood. Imagine if we gave that to each individual we came across. Imagine receiving that in each interaction we have. It truly is possible, but it does take something – in fact, it can often take a lot, especially for those who are not used to being with our own selves. Giving your presence to someone else requires you to push all your own thoughts aside for a moment and completely listen. Simply hearing what they say is not truly listening. Authentic listening is listening without judgment, assessment or making them wrong. You may disagree with another and do it without judgment. Giving that kind of presence is such a gift.

I ask you during this holiday season to consider giving the gift of presence instead of some material item. Give your loved ones the gift of precious time with them where they feel completely seen and heard. Give everyone who crosses your path the same gift of presence even if you do not know them. When you practice giving the gift of presence, you are not only honoring the divine in them, you are also honoring the divine in you.

Monthly Workout

Take on the following questions and process below for this month’s workout:

  1. Think about someone in your life today who you love, but may not necessarily always get a long with.  Or someone you may feel challenged by.
  2. Imagine them in front of you right now and imagine being completely present to them and what they are saying.  What would it take in you to be fully present?  What would you need to give up or let go of?  Are you willing to let that go (or practice letting that go)?
  3. If so, the next time you see them, practice letting go and listening to them completely without judgment.  Allow them to be fully seen and heard, without judgment, response or making wrong.  Notice how they are with you.  Notice how you feel.  Is anything different?
  4. Practice being present with a few people a day and see how you do.  Increase that to all interactions for one day, then a few days at a time. Then, for an entire week.  Notice what shifts in you and your interactions.
  5. See if you can practice being present with others for an entire month and notice what happens. 

Let me know what transpires out of this exercise.  I look forward to hearing from you.

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