When You Wish to Be A Healing Presence to Another

by James E. Miller

Being present is not a complicated matter—all you do is wake up. You open your eyes, look around, and come to your ordinary senses. You wake up to where you are, taking in all that is around you. Sometimes you survey the entire panorama, other times you focus on the details, paying attention to lines, shapes, colors, textures. You wake up not just to your surroundings but to what is going on in those surroundings. Is there movement? Where? Is there stillness? Are there sounds? What kind? What do your senses gather and convey?

Being really present includes being awake to yourself. What is happening within you while other things are happening around you? What is your body telling you? What are you feeling? What are you thinking? Another person or other people may be present, so you awaken to them, too. Who are they? What are they like? What is occurring between you?

When you are completely present, you stay awake to each unfolding moment. You give yourself fully to the present instant, letting go of what was, and choosing not to anticipate what will be. You don’t do presence—you are presence.

In today’s world, most of us are busy—too busy. We jump from one thing to another. We do two things at once, if not three or four. We overfill our days with activities until these activities overfill us. Is it any wonder that our minds become so scattered?

This multi-tasking attitude that we fall into can interfere with our simple presence. We forget how amazing a tree really is, how truly spectacular the sky can be, and the unique miracle of another being. We want to exert our influence upon the world, and so rather than allowing ourselves to stay with the moment, we hurry to do something with that moment.

Our culture rewards our being effective more than it does our being mindful. Yet if we’re going to be fully present, this is our invitation—we’re asked to awaken and to stay awake. We will have to persist in quieting our mind’s chatter if we want to really hear what another person has to say. The more we wake up to what is around us and within us, the more we are inclined to stay that way.


James E. Miller has written about seven strategies to become a healing presence to another person in his book The Art of Being a Healing Presence: A Guide for Those in Caring Relationships. Learn more about this popular resource here.