Offering a synthesis of spiritual teachings viewed through the lens of modern-day personal experiences, Being Present provides practical insight into how to cultivate a peaceful mind, live skillfully, and nurture a spiritual connection through the power of the present moment. Darren Cockburn shares practical exercises, meditations, and reflections, revealing how to free yourself from becoming lost in unhelpful thoughts and emotions, while bringing acceptance to what life presents you with.
Find out how to generate true mindfulness, utilizing the connection to your breath as well as immersion in nature. Learn how to use your body as a tool for raising your level of consciousness and how to weave exercise, diet, breathing techniques, and sexuality into your spiritual practice. Learn to view and work with occurrences like tiredness or pain as spiritual teachers for enriching your presence of mind and being. Darren explains how simplifying life brings a better understanding to harmful thought patterns and all types of addictions. Identifying these provides the opportunity to View them afresh and release or manage them differently and thus creates precious breathing space for our often overly busy minds. A stable practice of mindful presence enhances the quality of communication with others, be it at home with family and friends, or at work.
Alongside a comprehensive introduction to meditation techniques Darren provides useful guidance on how to successfully integrate a regular spiritual practice into your day-to-day activities. You will find pointers that explain how to create your own unique and personal structure in order to support your ongoing spiritual practice, the fruits of which will ultimately be a peaceful, calmer, and more connected experience of life. Whether you are starting out or are keen to deepen an existing connection with the
spiritual dimension, this structured guide provides much valuable support.
DARREN COCKBURN has been practising meditation and mindfulness for over twenty years, studying with a range of teachers from different religions. Coaching and teaching groups in different contexts, he has
supported hundreds of people in meditation, mindfulness and finding a connection to spirituality, with a focus on applying spiritual teachings in everyday life to cultivate a peaceful mind.
Darren also works as a business consultant supporting organizations with strategy formulation, interim leadership roles and transformation programmes. Outside of his work, he enjoys reading, walking in nature, spending time with friends and his two children. In addition, he is very passionate about yoga.
Living in the present moment will enhance your relationships, help you experience joy, happiness and a lasting connection to a higher source that you cannot achieve any other way. In a world filled with many surface pleasures, it is easy to miss the most important connection; the connection to one’s self.
Being Present is a roadmap that will take you on a journey to finding your own connection. Lessening the noise of the outside World that leads to unhappiness, addictions, unrest in the mind, anxiety, fear, destructive habits and patterns, Being Present will help you tap deep into your soul and unlock the connection that is your human right.
Darren Cockburn is a spiritual teacher by nature. His skilful articulation of complex spiritual concepts helps novice to advanced spiritual seekers alike cultivate a peaceful mind and spiritual connection. I had the pleasure of meeting Darren years ago on spiritual retreat and now consider him a close friend, confidant and teacher. Immediately taking to his warmth and loving nature, I found myself captivated by his presence. We talked for hours about life, love, mindfulness, meditation and spirituality It quickly became obvious that Darren has been a long-time practitioner and has studied a wide range of religions, philosophies and spirituality.
When Darren told me he was writing a book, I was thrilled to know his knowledge would be transferred to the masses. Darren has a message that will resonate with all people from all walks of life. His experience, passion and understanding will help you find your own internal peace and ultimately transform your life.
As a wellbeing expert, I am exposed to many teachings, writings and practices. My book, Back to Balance, was written as a manual to help readers integrate mind, body and spirit to achieve ultimate health. I am constantly searching for and learning new ways to incorporate spirituality into my busy and sometimes stressful life. The key is to stay balanced and like everyone else, I am always looking for ways to keep myself centered. Darren provides structured teachings, reflections and exercises that have helped me stay present and cultivate a still mind.
A good place to start is to ask the question "What is Presence?" Keep that question in mind, as you are about to read a book which will point you towards the answer. Only you can make the connection, as the answer can be known, but not explained. You can ask me how it feels to bathe in the sea, and I can describe the temperature of the water, the sensation of the waves crashing against my body and the beauty found within the reflections from the sun. You can only know how this feels if you wade in and experience it
for yourself. Even then our experience will be different every time because both the sea and us are constantly changing.
Being Present means connecting to something formless and unchangeable. However, the way we become Present is changeable, leading to a unique journey every time. The word "form" is used throughout this book. It includes everything within the universe, including thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations and anything that can enter the senses. Form represents everything that we can describe, down to individual particles within atoms. Formlessness or emptiness, on the other hand, is what cannot be described, only known or pointed towards. You may have already discovered Presence. If you have, wonderful! You can use this book to deepen and increase the frequency of your experience. If not, reading this book may help you discover it. Experiencing even a brief flash of Presence is enough to allow you to reconnect with it again and again.
I will explain what Presence means to me in the form of six characteristics. This personal account is provided in the hope that my words point you in the right direction and may help you recall times when you have felt it for yourself. Your experiences of Presence, which may be described differently, connect to the same source. It is absolutely fine if you do not resonate with or understand the characteristics at this stage. Allow them to wash over you. They will become clearer as the book progresses.
The first characteristic is a still and quiet mind with no discursive thought. Discursive thought is the kind of thought that rambles around our minds in an uncontrolled way, without us being aware of it. When we are Present, we may be aware of odd thoughts coming to mind, which soon pass. The same is true of feelings such as excitement, anxiety, envy, happiness, sadness and so on. Occasionally a feeling will present itself and then pass. For example, we may experience a feeling of happiness. We can be directly aware of the components that make up the feeling of happiness, which may be certain bodily sensations and a smile, but there will be no discursive thought to accompany it. If we were lost in thought rather than being Present, we may be asking questions such as, "Why am I happy?", How do I remain happy?" or "What will those people over there think about me being happy?" With Presence, we are simply aware and accepting of our direct experience with no discursive thought or questioning.
Freedom from discursive thought creates freedom from suffering. Suffering is different to physical pain. Physical pain is associated with the body and suffering is associated with our thoughts. The two are often connected. Physical pain can trigger suffering and suffering can trigger physical pain. Presence creates freedom from suffering and the opposite of suffering is peace. Suffering is created through craving. This is one of the central teachings of Buddhism. Whenever we get lost in discursive thought, there will always be craving towards pleasure or away from pain. These cravings operate using the realm of time and not the present moment, which is timeless. When we crave, our minds resist how things are in the present. Things
are a certain way, which we cannot change now because they are, but we want them to be different. They cannot be different at this point in time. Thinking we can make them different now through thought and creating some fantasy in our minds is delusional and unhelpful. Presence on the other hand, which means being aligned with the present moment, accepts everything as it is at this point in time. This aligns us to how things really are and allows us to be peaceful and content. Once we understand these truths, the goal is to train the mind so that we can stay Present where thinking only occurs when we consciously enable it for practical purposes.
The second characteristic is connectivity to a transcendental source, allowing us to access peace, love and wisdom. This is a profound and powerful experience in which we feel greater than our egoic self. I am referring to the mind-made self or ego. This is the self that is lost in thought. This self temporarily disappears and is transcended by something much greater to which We feel simultaneously connected and a part of. An intrinsic part of this transcendental experience is receiving love and providing love. Regardless of where We are, what We are doing and whom we are with, we feel loved and held by something that we cannot experience with the usual senses. This is then reciprocated with an unconditional love for everything and everybody. It is a gentle and beautiful experience.
I use the word "love" throughout this book. Unless stated otherwise, love is the form that is expressed without wanting or conditions attached to it. It is not a romantic or conditional love, as conditional love is needy and always wants something in return for giving. The love referenced through-out this book is unconditional love or pure love. You may also hear this referred to by Buddhists as Metta or Loving Kindness. This beautiful and boundless love can be felt inside and outside of us when we are Present.
The third characteristic is a wise and loving creativity that can manifest in any form. For example, we might connect with a friend, perform an act of generosity or decide to stop doing something harmful. We may also create something physical that others can enjoy and make use of. It may not result in any speech or action and could simply present itself in the form of wise thoughts that serve some purpose in the future.
The fourth characteristic is a loving appreciation of beauty, which may be found in anything, including people, animals and objects. This is accompanied by a sense of oneness and connectedness. When we are Present, our sense of self is transcended, as is all separateness from form. The subject and object relationship we often experience with things is removed. It is no longer ourself and the rest of the universe, but the universe as a whole with a tiny fragment of that universe coming together for a moment, creating an illusion for others that there is something fixed about us. With Presence, we become awake and enjoy a much richer experience.
The fifth characteristic is skilfulness. My definition of skilfulness is, "The action that manifests from a state of Presence, including thought, speech, physical acts or stillness? Skilful action aligns us to give the universe what it needs for the totality to become more conscious. Another way of framing this is that we are wise enough to act from a place of love in the spiritual interest of ourself and others. It is impossible to determine through thought what skilful action is as our minds would need to understand the totality of
the universe and the infinite stream of effects that our actions create. The human mind is sophisticated, but not that sophisticated. This is Why skilful action can only originate out of Presence.
There are useful religious lists we can refer to, including Buddhist precepts and Christian commandments, pointing us broadly towards what is skilful. Occasionally these lists lead to opinions and distortion to suit personal or religious agendas. True skilfulness is like Presence in that it can be known, but never defined adequately by some list or manual. So our only option, if we want to be consistently and wholly skilful, is to surrender and allow the whole and complete intelligence to lead the way.
The sixth characteristic is fearlessness. Through Presence, we accept and reside within the present moment, which transcends the realm of time. We can consider the past or future without becoming lost in thoughts or emotions about them. Fear is always associated with the future, which can be anything from the next second to several decades away. Fear is also always associated with the past, which is where our conditioning creates its triggers. The ability to transcend time means we can transcend fear and there is
nothing to be afraid of, including our own death. When we are Present, we know we can intrinsically accept what is, so there is never any resistance or fear about what might happen. Occasionally, we may experience physical feelings of fear within our body if there are immediate dangers whilst we are Present, which is natural and helpful. We can be aware of the fear whilst being simultaneously connected to a different realm that is fearless. The fearlessness holds the fear with love and allows it to pass.
A unique quality about Presence is its consistency and ultimately satisfying nature. In the world of form, things such as relationships, assets, our bodies and everything else will never ultimately satisfy us. They may satisfy us for a while, but then as circumstances change, which We can absolutely count on, the level of satisfaction will be eroded or lost altogether. Ironically, even When we think we are completely satisfied with something or someone, there is always background dissatisfaction there if we look closely enough, as we know deep within us that things do not ultimately satisfy us forever. Presence does not suffer from this inconsistency of satisfactoriness. It is always perfectly satisfying and the only thing that we can consistently depend upon. It achieves this because it is formless. Presence cannot be touched, heard, tasted, seen, inhaled or felt, making it very mysterious and unexplainable. We will realize when we become Present, as there is a very deep knowing that accompanies it. It cannot be fully explained, only known.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
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