The Essence of Presence, by kelly klein


Isla del Sol, Bolivia  2011       

The constant song of the waves, coming and going, pausing in between, never predictable, always changing, softer, louder, closer together and farther apart. The birds laugh and frolic in the water as it touches the shore. Every morning they play, flapping their wings, chasing each other while an eagle regally paces the sand or perches on a rock, watching, always watching, moving slowly, deliberately, mindfully. The wind hums and tosses my hair and the sun bathes everything in brilliant light and warmth. Several donkeys race down the hill every afternoon, rolling in the sand, grazing the grasses that have washed to shore, curious, exploring my feet, smelling my head. They always make me laugh.

People come and go as they follow their small herds of sheep, or a couple cows or llamas, descending the terraced hills to offer drink to their lot. Bright colorful skirts, carrying loads in striped mantas on their backs. Women and children come down to wash their clothes. Claudine and her sister Berlinda play in the sand building not castles, but villages, as it fit for someone from this culture, this perspective.

In the quiet I can observe the changing landscape and experiences, my moods or thoughts, the physical sensations of an injured ankle and elbow, the pain as it is sometimes greater, sometimes less. I can be with the experience and notice the restlessness that arises and passes, the urge to do something or to not, the urge to eat or drink, or fill the space with conversations or busy-ness. The sensations both internal and external are continuously changing, arising and passing away. I practice to be mindful and aware of all the changing conditions, an impossible task as there are so, changing every second...and what is my relationship to them? Can I be aware of them as they arise and pass away without clinging or aversion?

It takes a great amount of concentration to stay with the body and not in the mind. The mind tells me a million stories, some old, some new, some I have believed for years and internalized as a part of "who I am". They are all just thoughts. Is there anything real other than what I experience right now?

Seems to me the rest of what runs through my brain are perceptions, responses, conditioned responses, opinions, doubts, desires, etc. Can I just be aware without wanting more of something, or wanting something to be different?  In meditation, many times tears, suffering, pain arises, and I can put my hand to my heart now and say "I care about this suffering" and allow it to be as great as it is. With practice, I don't have to push it away, or question what is wrong with me, etc. I can allow it to be. I can say yes to it instead of always saying no.

This time here is a precious gift. This moment.

My mind immediately begins to think, doubt, can I carry this with me into another world, of work, cities, “busyness”.... but then I return to here, now. This is what I have.

I asked this question a while back, and would like to hear what others think, "What do we truly need to be happy?" Obviously, we cannot find happiness in temporary things, so, what is it?

Here's to appreciating the beauty of this moment, or the pain of this moment, or the challenge of this moment with a gentle loving acceptance and kindness towards ourselves.

With a brimming heart,



  1. Dear Kelly, ...a moment can be much more than a second in a measurement in the saying of "life is not measured by the number of breaths we take but by the moments that take our breath away"...what you have witnessed and experienced in your journey is wonderful and contains so many elements...and by you sharing and expressing in your unique way it's like you are shining through and like you are taking a concept and refining its meaning...your writing is insightful and describes not only what has encompassed you but portrays a way of how you commune with it all. As human beings we all experience sufferings and there always arises moments when thoughts relating to sufferings seem almost inferior and then our minds will almost instinctively want to dismiss them and blocking them out really doesn't work. So, what do we do? Well, the mind can do many mention accept them for what they are and that is precise. But, I actually had to look up the word sublime: a verb meaning to convert something inferior into something of higher worth...a friend of mine recently posted on facebook this statement: "...suffering is the currency in life...what you purchase for yourself with what you earn defines your spirit..." (and if you're wondering, yes, I left a lengthy comment LOL), in this light, though, suffering has value or merit especially when the suffering leads us on the path or journey...for without suffering we may not find the path...and along the journey we may find many things of importance including balance via thus arise harmony...and when you feel in harmony with other living things, with others, and even with yourself, it is a realization that happiness is ' a way of being for experiencing life" a deep fulfillment that can permeate every moment...thus the word -endure: to continue to exist in the same state or condition even while pacifying inner conflicts or inevitable setbacks as they may, as you asked what we think about: "what do you truly need to be happy?"...well, I recently read this: "I WANT HAPPINESS" remove the "I" for that is ego...then remove "WANT" for that is desire and see now what is left is just happiness!! says the Buddha...then there is a way of looking at it like this: happiness is 'what we make of things' vs. 'things that make us happy'...happiness can be a state of mind ~equanimity ~ ...and there is a 'potential path' to happiness....and perhaps when the 'idea' of happiness is no longer an issue then it becomes 'clearer' that by practicing loving kindness and like cultivating the garden of our thoughts that will bring about a state of well-being to realize we have happiness after all...Peace and Love, @}--}-- Mary


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