If relationships are what life is all about, then what is the fundamental skill of being in relationship?
I think, it is one thing.
Does the person across from you feel that you are present with them? That you are focused on them, paying attention, and caring about them?
I can’t imagine a strong or deep relationship where there isn’t regular eye contact, slowed down real life face to face time, and mutual feelings of being valued.
I have discovered the stronger the presence, the stronger and more enjoyable the relationship.
I had to learn this. This is how I know it is a skill.
I had a hard time with being present with my wife and my children because in my body I was often moving quickly and I was focused on things outside of the present moment.
It’s really hard to be present with someone else when you yourself are agitated, anxious or focused on other things.
The person across from you will not feel your presence. They will feel your agitated distractedness, your focus elsewhere.
The skill for me of being present started with myself: slowing myself down. Slowing my breathing. Slowing my talking. Calming myself. Being curious about myself. Knowing myself. Accepting myself. Building a capacity to be with myself. To be present with me.
This is the piece that I think is missing when the advice is given to be more present with your wife or kids.
Yes of course. Presence is good. But how?
It’s not really possible to give to someone something you cannot give to yourself.
There’s a lot of things to take your attention away. There are many distractions from self and from the ones you love. There is work, tasks, TV..
But, the quality of your relationships (and life) is related to the amount of quality time you spend with others.
Have you developed the skill of presence in your life?