When you love someone, the best thing you can offer is your presence. How can you love if you are not there? Thich Naht Hanh
This week, Thich Naht Hanh’s words remind us that being present is one of the greatest gifts we can give to others, and more importantly ourselves. Why? Because only in presence can we operate in a conscious manner. It is especially important in relationships wherein you are sharing your life with another person.
Only in presence can we experience true compassion and subsequent empathy for another person. And I tell you from experience, compassion and empathy are key in any serious committed relationship. You may be thinking, of course I have those things for my significant other, but I urge you to explore what that means to you.
For a long time I believed that I had the utmost compassion and empathy for my wife, but I was partially blinded by a lack of presence. (If you read my article for Tiny Buddha, you’ll remember the specifics.) It was only when we both put genuine effort into cultivating presence that we realized how little empathy we actually had for one another. And why? Because we had so little compassion for ourselves as individuals.
You see when we cultivate presence, we cultivate consciousness. And when we practice being conscious we begin to see our own patterns of thought and action, and begin to understand why we do the things we do. Only then can we interact with another person in an honest and compassionate way. And only then can we truly understand that our significant others, friends, family, whoever, are individuals with their own sets of unconscious patterns just like us. And thus we experience empathy, deep love and all that other good stuff.
Wishing you a wealth of empathy and presence this week.
By Terence Stone
Chief Editor and Founder of Urban Spiritual, I’m a classically trained singer and actor living in New York City, who has performed in the U.S. and Europe. I’m also a writer, traveller, meditator, arts-lover, and well-being enthusiast.