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The Power of Presence

Being present is a present --

-- to yourself and everyone around you. Being present means that you are here, right now. It feels good to be in the present moment because this is where our senses can truly experience pleasure.

Animals invite us to experience the pleasure of simply being.

And being present is a very calm experience. You are not having split focus by ruminating about the past or worrying about the future.

Everyone talks about the value of being calm, but not too many people have a reliable method to get there. The good news is that you can strengthen your “presence muscles” by practicing it. And don’t worry about always being present. It is an illusion that you can “stay” calm all the time, as there are too many events from within and from without that will challenge your commitment to mindfulness or presence. So, release yourself from the burden of staying present – as a permanent condition -- and replace it with a decision to CHOOSE presence more and more often.

Your personal power, I believe increases as you increase your willingness and desire for a peaceful presence. When you are present, your mind is clear to accurately receive information and connect to your intuition. When you are present with yourself you can read the signals and silent communication from animals and people more clearly. You feel safe and ready to deal with the challenges that present themselves to you. If you are present, you feel better able to navigate your world and make the best choices with what life offers you.

What I Mean by Presence:

Everyone experiences presence in their own way. In a recent Power of Presence workshop, we created a “word soup” with each person offering one word that evoked a sense of presence in them. Notice the unique aspects of the experience of presence, as well as a lovely blend of nuances. Some of the word offerings I remember were: silence, space, gentle, gift, smooth, aware, release, grounded, awareness, surrender, connected, tuning in, what is...

Take a moment to explore your word. Recognize how you experience a peaceful presence. When have you felt the sense of presence? How did it feel? Would you like to experience this more often? What do you need to do more of to feel presence more of the time? What do you need to do less of?

Ralph, the horse, loves being with us when we are exploring presence.

Animals Enjoy Our Presence:

What is so lovely about when we are claiming our silent presence is that animals love it. They respond -- sometimes instantly. I love it when I am sitting with a herd, each horse doing their own thing, and as I get present, usually at least one horse will come all the way across the corral to approach this energy and “bathe” in the peace. As we trust that we can move beyond thoughts and words -- we find a peaceful silence which opens the channel of communication with animals.

In the Power of Presence workshop, we begin by simply noticing when we are present or not – as evidenced by how the animals respond to us. They give us instant feedback if they are drawn to us when we move into presence. Because they are masters at presence, we can learn much from them. This doesn’t mean that animals are present all the time. They have stress, they have pain, they have fears, and trauma. But they are better able to move quickly from these experiences and back to a sense of balance and connection because they spend less time in the thinking mind that humans can get stuck in.

I love experiencing stepping out of my mind, and into the sensory world of horses and other animals. I see how they are attracted to this moment and will choose to engage more deeply. When I am present, they will often follow me around if I move away.

Animal Presence:

This is one reason it is so pleasurable and healing to be around animals -- they are often very present. And if we are present around them, they meet us in this energy. But if we are stressed or tense, they may wisely choose to move away from us.

By neutrally observing this feedback from animals, they can assist us to recognize our true state of mind. You can’t fool a horse – you can’t pretend you are calm when you are not. But if we are willing to be peaceful, they will often assist us, and let us “hitch a ride” on their gentle, calm vibe. Soon, we can let go and can feel what they are feeling, and we can both enjoy the present ride.

The animal must be free to choose whether or not they want to interact, and at whatever is the perfect distance for them for a given interaction. We practice the Trust Technique in The Human-Animal Connection, which means we believe it is important to let the horse choose how they want to interact, for how long, and at what depth of intensity.

Finding Your True North:

One exercise we do in this workshop is we deliberately move as slow as a glacier, so we feel each step as if walking in very slow motion. This is relaxing for us, and fascinating for the horses who seem to enjoy this calm entertainment.

Another reason to do this gentle, slow walk is that it encourages us to experience subtle sensations in our body and those coming from the ground. Moving in this conscious manner merges listening and feeling. This is good practice for when we interact with animals, as it helps us gain greater access to our intuitive connection to them.

Using your whole body as an antenna, you are able to access your intuition. You begin to sense what is right for you, versus what doesn’t serve you. What is “right” for you means it is a more authentic experience. This is why I describe it as Finding Your True North. When you are present you can navigate the twists and turns and choices in life with a more connected sense of authenticity.

Towards and Away:

In The Human Animal Connection in our Principle # 21 - TOWARDS & AWAY, we seek to restore a healthy functioning intuitive sense of Towards & Away. Animals naturally move towards what they want and away from what they don’t want. They move towards safety and away from things that are scary. As humans, our natural gut sense of Towards & Away can get stifled. We can lose touch with our natural instincts that direct us toward well-being because we often override what our body is telling us. Then, we may avoid what is good, and gravitate to what is less good for us. Life gets easier when we restore our innate sense of Towards & Away.

In The Power of Presence workshop, we practice reconnecting with our innate desire for moving towards as well as the important wisdom of the need to move away. We need to feel equally versatile in being able to move closer or further as desired. In one exercise, with a partner about ten feet away, we give silent signals for when we are ready for the person to approach -- and when to stop -- so that we can connect with our body sensation of the perfect desired distance for any interaction. This helps us strengthen our energetic/psychic boundaries because we learn to respect our wisdom of Towards & Away. When we are listening to this sense, we naturally make better choices.

With this awareness tuned up, we entered the corral with the horses, making sure to observe and respect their sense of Towards & Away. Instead of approaching them, we let the horses choose to approach or not. And we were reminded not to take it personally if they don’t choose to engage. As we moved inside the corral, in slow single file, we had a lovely surprise. the entire herd decided to join us, following behind us, walking as slow as we were. It was as if they accepted us as part of the herd.

At Equinimity Tucson, we like the horses to choose to interact with us.

By simply being present, we honor the horse’s Towards & Away Wisdom and support our connection to our own. For homework, I encourage participants to pay attention to their inner sense of Towards & Away as they interact with others in daily life. We hope to see you in one of our future Human-Animal Connection Power of Presence workshops.


Genie Joseph, PhD

Executive Director

The Human-Animal Connection

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