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Presence as a Gift

This quote reminds me what a gift mindful listening is. I refer to being present and communicating. We are all so busy and giving the gift of our time is a real present. This is really about the gift of mindfulness when we are with others. Are you a good listener? Are you present when you are with your loved ones, friends, and co-workers? I remember one of my professors from my undergraduate days could never be bothered to actually look at me or near my direction during office hours. She was too busy doing her mail and putting together her next lecture. I never felt like I had her attention. I learned something from those visits to her office, though.I learned that I would never do this during my office hours. I am present.

I have my limits and know what times of day that I am best for better listening or office hours, for instance. It is important to know when you are productive for the work that you need to do. As much as I would love to have my office hours one day a week, like some of my friends, I just can’t do that. I need about an hour or hour and a half at tops to focus, listen, and help. Then, I need to take care of the paperwork from the meetings, and get to the next task. I feel that I can offer my full presence two to three designated times per week and then for appointments as needed another hour in the week. Now these are the sort of meetings where I am working with my undergrads. I’m not referring to meetings with my graduate students or colleagues.

I attend lots of meetings based on sitting on different committees and I have to say that it is easiest to be present with the focused or organized meetings and most of the university meetings have an organized agenda, which I really appreciate. When the Chair of the meeting leads effectively, the meeting is more successful. One colleague from the Law Faculty would also time the different points on the agenda. These organized meetings kept all of us present. I wish that I was able to follow suit with this tactic, but overall, I learned lots from her. She was present and made sure that we all were present at our meetings.

Thinking of friends and presence is important, too. I really need to feel like the friendship is mutual in order to be present and give my attention. I can recharge after a great coffee or lunch with a good friend and I hope that they feel the same way. And, of course, I try to be present at home with my family. How do you focus? How do you stay present? One easy tactic is to keep the technology at a minimum or to have technology breaks. I will do this with girlfriends, a social media break when we all spend 2-3 minutes checking in or we agree to no phones. My family keeps me on track: they ask me to unplug. How are you mindful?

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