What does it mean to offer “pure presence” to someone? According to James E. Miller, author of The Art of Being a Healing Presence, presence is "the condition of being consciously and compassionately in the present moment with another or with others, believing in and affirming their potential for wholeness, wherever they are in life."
I cite Miller’s definition here because, in my view, it perfectly aligns with our understanding and practice of presence in the purest sense. His definition states that this type of presence is something we create within ourselves. It also makes very clear that whenever we intersect with anyone in this way we have the opportunity to affirm their essence—their divinity as well as their deep humanity. Our conversational efforts become the practice ground for viewing the individual in a wholesome way.
This can be our highest hope as well as the intention that guides us throughout this training: to have open-hearted conversations that can lead to enhanced relationships and positive outcomes with whomever we meet. It is presence without agenda. It is presence that welcomes each individual who steps across our threshold (mental or physical) with wholeheartedness and compassion. This is not any easy thing to do today given our ethnic, religious and political differences.
For our purposes here, we can think of presence as a calm, openhearted space of welcome and service. When we offer someone presence, we invite him or her into our circle of care for conversation and the sharing of life experiences. We hold presence and we offer presence for the benefit of the other. We are here to serve.
“Pure Presence”, as presented in the SGTI curriculum, is a unique protocol for sacred listening that can enhance and deepen one’s ability to offer presence to clients and seekers of any tradition. It is uniquely designed for caring professionals to be used in a myriad of settings, ministry formats and private practice. Pure Presence allows an individual to listen deeply; to offer the deepest empathy and spiritual care to whomever they are with.
©2017 Janice L. Lundy
Pure Presence: A Workbook and Journal
Here at The Spiritual Guidance Training Institute we assist our students in developing "sacred listening." One of the tools we use to do so is a unique protocol developed by Dr. Janice Lundy called "Pure Presence™." The methodology and practices are intended to open one's heart to listen to others in ways that are "pure"— without bias, judgment, or hidden agendas. This allows us to transcend religious doctrine, cultural prejudice, or anything that could keep us separated from our fellow human beings. It enables us to create a space for connection and healing to happen within a spiritual guidance session.
We could say that we at SGTI are trying to foster "hearts as wide as the world." In our final learning module with Cohort 1 students we explored this concept, and invited them to share their understanding of "a heart as wide as the world." This is what one of our students, Jeffrey Phillips, wrote:
“The heart of the world” – what is that? Is it the social world misshapen by structures and systems that seem unchangeable, and that, more often than not, go unnoticed by people who have been taught to not see and question unjust schemes? Is it the world itself – beautiful, dying, the original body of God? Is it the world of creativity, imagination, science, curiosity, discovery, spirituality, primal experiences, social bonding, sexuality, and the arts?
Or it is God – that which beats (like a heart) at the center (the heart) of all things? The goodness, the joy, the love, the moral imperative to care? Being, Consciousness, Existence, Spirit, Mystery, Eternity – experienced in shared, sacred story, symbol, rituals, concepts, and completely unorthodox (“profane,” “secular”) and unexpected numinous, luminous places, people, and circumstances?
How does one listen to that Heart? By taking time in the daily practice, by stepping outside the ordinary routines to attend the festival of a different social group or take a new course. By paying attention to your toothbrush – really looking at it for the first time! By sitting when you could be busy. By resting when you could be working. By savoring a conversation, a meal, a day. By being when you could be doing. By reading a poem slowly – really chewing on it - rather than reading the news. By “praying the news,” and considering those stubborn social systems and the suffering they inflict on innocent folk.
And then by reflecting on that toothbrush-looking, that sitting, that being, that soulful reading, that news praying. And doing it again the next day – or doing something completely different. Or maybe by approaching a daily practice with no agenda at all other than to Be Open, and to see – and hear! - what happens in the moment, in the here, in the now. I have learned that this last year and a half.
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Deepening the understanding, practice and importance of spiritual guidance-companionship across traditions.
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