Being Present

How do I sense being present in a moment of my life?

Being present varies considerably. Moments have a different level of intensity when I am more wholly present – more collected. These are usually moments of great drama; being in love, having the feeling of being in danger or ‘being in the zone’ during exercise. In contrast my usual days, when I don’t really feel present, can be quite flat – even to the extent that sometimes I’m not even that interested in my life. My life goes on but I’m not there.

‘I am’ describes a real sense of being present; a lucid head, sensation in my body, being in between my calm inner life, looking out clearly from behind my eyes, and the ever changing outer life. Being present to the inner and outer.

Mr Gurdjieff said:

One of the best means for arousing the wish to work on yourself is to realize that you may die at any moment. *

This thought raises the drama of a seemingly mundane moment to make me appreciate my life and the lives of those around me. I really want to be present.

But I have a sense that I don’t control ‘being present’. I often don’t notice my lack of presence. Being present is not something to switch on; it requires ‘work’ over a period of time.

To develop a taste for the different responses that come in different moments of being present, here are some questions to ponder:

  • Am I really fully here now?
  • What does it feel like or mean to ‘be here now’?
  • Am I deceiving myself by talking to myself –  turning ideas over in my mind?

*One of G I Gurdjieff’s Aphorisms

The next Café Gurdjieff event in Central London on the theme of “Being Present” will take place at 11am on Saturday 26 November. For more details email or visit our Meetup Group.

Reflections on Working with Attention

‘Every human being, at birth, receives a certain quantity of this vital force, and, in the course of his or her existence, it will be the integrator of all things within and of everything manifested’.

Henriette Lannes. This Fundamental Quest. P 58.

Attention is a type of ‘inner focussing’. Concentration is when one of my centres, usually my head, is focused on one single task at hand– often to the exclusion of my other senses. The result is that when I am concentrating, often I don’t hear sounds, feel sensations or notice things going on around me. I am active in one centre only.

Attention can be consciously divided, between oneself and the outside world (which we call self-remembering), or between two or more centres. For example, I may feel a habitual emotion and, at the same time, consciously bring some attention to bear on a certain part of my body or on my breathing. The emotion loosens its grip on me and I gain a certain sensation of being grounded, being ‘lighter’ and more open to my inner world and to what life is offering me in that moment. I become aware of a finer energy at my disposal. I sense a vivifying force at play. . I am now active in two centres.

These moments are fleeting – even though the possibilities are always there. However, it leaves a taste and a wish for more. If I am awake, I can intentionally find that sensation again. Even when I am asleep or daydreaming, a moment of real attention can be gifted to me and jolt me out of my slumber. Before I know it though, life’s chloroform effect has put me back into a state of waking sleep. It becomes a question for me and I develop a curiosity about this extraordinary phenomenon.

How can I extend these moments of gathered attention? Do I really have to wait for them to come to me or can I be more proactive in seeking them?

Attention is like a muscle. It gets stronger the more it is used.

A state of Attention has a special quality which can be perceived by others. It can call the other person’ to action’ – if only briefly – and leave a lasting impression. In a Group meeting James Moore once said: ‘The most valuable thing you can ever give someone is your Attention’ – but most of the time I am asleep to that possibility. My task is to wake up!

The next Café Gurdjieff event on The Power of Attention will take place on Saturday 18 June at 11am in Central London. Details here: