Practical Presence for Players Part 1
By Arch Angel
November 16, 2014
The Purpose of Practical Presence for Players
“Positive” thoughts in the mind create positive emotions in the body, and positive emotions in the body give rise to positive thoughts in the mind. Naturally, positive thoughts in the mind and emotions in the body create “positive” behaviors. Positive behaviors propel you forward in life with a purpose. They enable you to successfully reach your goals through overcoming challenges and hurdles.
But this isn’t going to be an article about the commonly-held notion of positive thinking. I am going to lay out a process by which you can take control of your thoughts and emotions, thereby taking control of your behavior and ultimately your life.
The foundation of realizing everything that you want in life as a man is presence. It is the bedrock of self-mastery and self-discipline. From the position of presence you create and allow positive thoughts in your mind, which in turn create positive emotions and generate positive behaviors. For the purposes of this series, I will be using the terms “presence” and “mindfulness” interchangeably.
What is Presence?
At the most basic level presence is being present to what is going on both inside your body and outside your body right now. Internally it means complete awareness of your thoughts and emotions, and acceptance of those thoughts and emotions. In the state of perfect presence you feel persistent clarity, focus, gratitude, and joy. You know what to do when and you do it, you learn new skills with ease, and you move forward on your path every day. I am not blowing smoke up your ass. I experience extended periods of presence on a daily basis now, and its amazing!
That definition of perfect presence may seem extreme or impossible to achieve. That may be a thought you are having right now, so instead I want you to focus on the next level down which is simple awareness. Everyone starts with simple awareness, i.e. being aware of the thoughts in your mind and the sensations in your body, how they influence your emotions, and vice versa. If you are aware of what is going on inside you, including “negative” thoughts and emotions, then you are present.
When I talk about the mind and the body, or your thoughts and your emotions, I am making a distinction for the purposes of writing this article. In reality I believe that it is a distinction without a difference. Without getting too bogged down in this topic, I want to flesh out the important features of these relationships.
The Mind-Body Thought-Emotion Dynamic
First, thoughts that seem to arise in the mind in turn create emotions that you feel in your body. Emotions that seem to arise in the body also trigger thoughts that appear in your mind. There is a continuous loop occurring inside you. If you are aware of the thought or emotion, take a step back, look at it, accept it, and move on, you are then able to sever the causal relationship between “negative” thoughts producing “negative” emotions. On the other hand when a “negative” emotion pops up inside you need to “feel” it fully, accept it as it moves through you, and then allow it to dissipate. Accept and handle whatever thoughts may arise following the emotion. Over time you will learn to feel the emotion completely without thinking the thoughts.
Second, “negative” thoughts, when left unchecked, will effect your body in negative ways. For example, if you are procrastinating on working on a project by incessantly checking FB and Instagram, you will feel tension inside you. If you are worrying or nervous about a future event you will feel unease. If you are afraid of something “bad” happening, you will feel fear inside of you.
If you accept “negative” thoughts as true and correct, then your body will react to them every time. Persistent worry, also known as stress, will cause many unhealthy changes in your body over time. Identifying with negative emotions can have acute effects in the moment. For example when you see a “hot” girl and you think about approaching her and then immediately imagine her rejecting you, you will experience an increased heart rate, “butterflies” in your stomach, sweaty palms, and a squeaky voice. All this before you even take a step.
Over the long-term, accepting “negative” thoughts and emotions as true and identifying with them has been shown to cause physical pain, tension, illness, headaches, injury, and complete stagnation in life. These results occur whether or not someone else was involved. You harm yourself over time and cause chronic injuries when you are unconscious and not mindful.
What Non-presence aka “Unconsciousness” Feels Like
Have you ever felt fear? Have you ever worried about something? Have you ever procrastinated? Did you let fear, worry, or anxiety hold you back from doing something you wanted to do or knew you should do? Have you ever found yourself rationalizing why you chose one action or path over another, but you knew in your gut that the one you did not choose was the correct one?
Do you drink alcohol or do drugs to relieve “stress”?
If so, then you know what its like not to be present or mindful. You have felt the effects of letting your mind and emotions control you, instead of you controlling your mind and emotions.
Definitions of Presence
Before I dive in, I want to lay out a few definitions so we are clear on what’s happening. Presence is short for present moment awareness. This term means that you are aware of what is going on around and inside you at this present moment. You are receiving stimuli from both the physical world around you and your body and mind inside you.
In a nutshell it means that you are free from the effects of negative thoughts, negative emotions, rationalization, anxiety, worry, fear, and stress. You possess clarity, focus, and an intimate awareness of what is happening both inside your body and outside. The second step after awareness is acceptance, which implies non-judgment.
You accept the mental and emotional states inside of you at the time, and you may even feel gratitude for those states. Gratitude because your mind and body are doing what they believe is best to protect you and keep you alive. Gratitude because the system is working to ensure your survival.
Survival and Lack of Presence
Survival is the primal human drive. In today’s comfortable western world, it often times creates challenges for someone trying to better himself. You must overcome the vestigial survival mechanisms to succeed in life, with women, and to master yourself.
The survival mechanisms in place in the body cause you to seek out what is safe and prevent you from taking risks. These mechanisms are very helpful when it comes to preventing you from doing things that will cause a high probability of your death, but are problematic when you are taking non-life-threatening risks because they cause fear. If I jump in front of a tractor trailer moving at high speeds I will be killed or maimed. If I approach a hot girl and she rejects me, nothing will be bruised beyond my ego.
This is the difference between danger and fear. Danger is doing something that you know has a high probability of harming you, but it is not fear. Fear is an emotion that arises from you projecting into the future and imagining a negative outcome. Fear is literally a figment of your imagination. It is not real.
Fear and Death
All fear is ultimately the fear of death. Its a simple exercise to trace any fear that arises back to being afraid of no longer existing anymore, of the extinguishment of the ego. Fear of talking to a sexy girl is fear of rejection, which comes from either your irrational fear that her boyfriend or father will beat you to death or irrational fear that the tribe will kick you out and you will be forced to fend for yourself in the wild. Try the exercise for yourself, and see if there is a fear you have had or can think of that is not traceable back to the foundational fear of death.
You give fear power over you by accepting that what your fearful emotions and thoughts are saying to you is true.
What Acceptance Means
When someone says to accept or welcome a thought or emotion, they aren’t telling you to accept its truth value, but rather to accept that you are experiencing that thought or emotion, i.e. to let it flow through you. When someone says not to judge a thought or emotion, they don’t mean that you should do what the thought or emotion tells you to do. It simply means that you do not judge yourself for having the emotion or thought. There is literally no connection between the thoughts and emotions that arise inside you and your intrinsic value.
You Complete You
This point is incredibly important. You are whole. You inherently have all of the tools that you need for complete development, self-mastery, and success. The very fact that you are able to read this tells you all you need to know. Cogito ergo sum. Don’t bail on me now because you are afraid of “woo woo.” This is serious stuff and not to be taken lightly.
It is precisely the fact that you are able to read this right now that tells me you are complete and whole. The Cogito is translated as “I think, therefore I am.” You are connected to everyone and everything, to “god,” or “consciousness,” or “source.” Whatever you want to call it you are connected to it because you are part of it.
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You open that connection through presence or mindfulness. Presence is the state of existence and the tool through which you take right action, discover and then build your path, create meaning in your life, discover your passion, develop as a person, learn anything and everything you want to know, master a skill, and have sex with hot women.
At first it sounds magical and whimsical, but the mechanism of action is simple. Through taking a step back and watching your thoughts and emotions as if they were someone else’s, accepting that you are having them, riding out the emotions if they are strong, and thanking your body for trying to keep you safe, you calm your mind, relax your body, and set yourself up to see what it is you need to do, what you should do.
Unconsciousness Feels Like
This is tricky for me to write out and for you to understand if you haven’t experienced it before. Imagine that you’ve worn contact lenses your whole life and then one day someone comes along and shows you that the lenses are covered with shit, actual feces. This whole time you had no idea that you were wearing contact lenses and no idea that they were covered with shit. They show you how to remove the contact lenses and clean your eyes. You instantly are amazed at the clarity of the world around you and your ability to focus.
Before with the lenses on you couldn’t see well, you were oftentimes confused, and that confusion lead to fear. When you become present, you see the world and other people for how they truly are. You are free to act without fear stopping you. You are able to feel gratitude because you have made space for it through reducing or eliminating your suffering. From presence you can attract good things and good people into your life. Becoming present is a simple process that anyone can replicate.
You Have Felt Presence In The Past
In fact, almost everyone has experienced presence at some point in the past. Think back to a time in your adult life when you were completely calm, relaxed, or happy. What is your favorite activity or pastime?
For me, in retrospect, I experienced presence on several occasions in the past even though I was unaware of what was happening at the time. First occurrence was while snowboarding. The combination of the mountain air and scenery with the fact that you must focus all your energy on controlling your body and board while sliding down the face of a mountain shoves you into presence. You cannot snowboard on challenging terrain without presence.
The second was in jiu-jitsu. You must focus while grappling. The threat of your opponent choking you out or submitting you forces you to become mindful. Your body knows at a deep level that if your mind isn’t clear and you aren’t focused, then you will most likely die, so it makes you present.
Introduction to Presence Process
I am going to break it down as simply as possible for you. But first you must understand that because it is simple does not mean that it is easy or it will happen overnight. The further you are separated from consciousness, i.e. the more unconscious you are, likely the longer the process will take. That being said, you never know. Let’s get to it.
The Practical Presence Process:
Step 1: Remembering Presence
Think back to the past when you experienced something that felt like what I’ve described as presence. What were the circumstances outside of you? I.e., where were you and what were you doing at the time? Try to recall that experience as best as possible and hold it in mind. If you didn’t have such an experience in the past, that is OK.
Step 2: Cultivate Awareness
Cultivate an awareness of the thoughts you’re having and the emotions you are feeling. If you aren’t already aware of them, then you must begin meditating. Either way, meditate.
For your first time: Set a timer for 10 mins. Sit or lie down. Close your eyes. Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth. Focus on breathing. Concentrate on a smooth inhale and a slow release on the exhale. Treat the exercise like a life-saving skill and really pay attention to your breaths. Observe what happens in your mind and your body while you are doing this. You will be aware of thoughts that pop up seemingly out of nowhere, and feelings that arise mysteriously. Simply observe them without judgment or action. Do not resist the thoughts or feelings, let them pass through you.
The first time I lay down to meditate, my mind fought me every second my eyes were closed. I think I made it 4 mins before I jumped up and ran away. But, the most important part, is that I never gave up completely. I lay down the next day and tried again.
Step 3: Meditate Daily
Follow your breath for 10 mins at least once a day. Continue observing what thoughts and emotions arise. You will begin to see patterns in the thoughts and emotions. Accept that you are having them, do not resist, and do not judge.
Step 4: Analyze Your Patterns
Put your thinking cap on and analyze the patterns that emerge. You will notice that many thoughts and emotions are repetitive. Some thoughts feel like a program. One thought enters your mind and it sets off a train of thoughts. You will notice that certain emotions are associated with certain thoughts and thought patterns. You will feel that particular events or people trigger specific thoughts or emotional states.
As time goes on you will start to notice more and more patterns emerging and your thoughts and emotions will sort themselves into categories.
Step 5: Dig Deeper
When major thought or emotional patterns arise, start to dig a little deeper. Search your mind and your emotions for the source of those thoughts and feelings. What is the root cause? As you become more proficient at this discovery over time you will gradually uncover the underlying causes of your unhelpful thoughts and emotions.
Step 6: Accept What Comes Up
Focus on the underlying causes–those people, past events, or traumas that bring you pain and you allow to make you suffer. Make peace, forgive, forget, and do whatever else is necessary for you to slowly erode their power. Accept and do not judge. Realize that by resisting, fighting, and not feeling that you give them power over you.
I understand that this doesn’t sound very clear if you haven’t experienced it before, but you have to trust in the process, and trust that by going through the process you will develop the skill to do this step by step. It will become clear to you as you move forward every day.
Step 7: Transition to Positive
Take the step from being a passive observer of your thoughts to actively taking control of what is going on in your mind. When a negative thought or emotion arises–if you feel fear for example–understand what it really is and where it is coming from. Go there in your mind. Analyze the underlying cause, and then dismiss it. You are intelligent and skilled enough by now that you have learned to dismiss without judging or resisting.
If someone shoves a piece of cake under your nose, but you’re trying to lose fat and don’t want to eat it, you don’t have to. You don’t shove the cake back. You don’t take a bite of it and then say you don’t like it. You see the cake for what it is and you politely say “No, thank you.” If the person insists, then you repeat “No, thank you” and sidestep them. If they persist, then speak to them and understand why they are shoving the cake at you time and again. This is the essence of taking control of what is going on in your mind.
Step 8: Take Control
Replace the negative thoughts and emotions with more empowering, positive thoughts. Once you have found the root cause, tell your story in a way that neutralizes the power of the root cause and then replace it with something positive and empowering. You are the one having these thoughts and emotions, so you are in control. This is your story. Tell it the way you want. Accept yourself and other people and then move on to something better.
Step 9: Master the Process
Repeat this process over and over again until you feel presence during most of your day. Start off every morning with breath meditation. Continue that practice, even if it is for only 10 mins per day, until you experience clarity, focus, and joy. Observe thoughts and emotions. Accept and understand but do not resist or judge. Analyze the causes. Take control of your mind by digging into the negative thoughts and emotions. Once you’ve found the cause or “trigger,” then retell the story in a way that replaces the negative with a positive. Do it over and over again every day.
If you follow this process regularly as often as possible, you will feel the positive effects in your mind, body, and life. For some of you small insights will pop up at regular intervals on a daily basis. Others may feel like they’re making little to no progress, or even taking steps backwards. As with all thoughts and emotions, accept these too while continuing to repeat the process. One day you will experience an explosion of insight and clarity, and the path will be obvious and you will wonder how it took you so long to see it.
No matter what happens, always return to awareness. You are in control of your mind and emotions, never forget this.
The next article will be on how to build structure and discipline into your life that will empower you to fully support your developing presence.