A Journey Through Presence

A Journey Through Presence

For a week in January, I travelled the same country road in the Kamloops area. It is called Rose Hill Road, and it wanders through grasslands, and then through forests before it descends into river valley. I like this road for its quietude, wildlife and landscape. My awareness becomes acute to the subtleties of nature and I relax and revel in simple discoveries.

My journey is a great way to let go and “become presence as described by David Abram in his book, ‘The Spell of the Sensuous’. David Abram explores the research of time and space by past phenomenologists and the lack of distinction of time and space according to indigenous cultures.

David Abram wrote,
When I allow the past and future to dissolve, imaginatively, into the immediacy of the present moment, then the “present” itself expands to become an enveloping field of presence. And this presence, vibrant and alive, spontaneously assumes the precise shape and contour of the enveloping sensory landscape, as though this were its native shape! It is this remarkable fit between temporal concept (the “present”) and spatial precept ( the enveloping presence of the land) that accounts, I believe, for the relatively stable and solid nature of this experience, and that prompts me to wonder whether “time “and “space” are really as distinct as I was taught to believe? " pg 203- 204

Abram states,
The sensorial landscape, in other words, not only opens onto that distant future waiting beyond the horizon but also onto a near future, onto an imminent field of possibilities waiting behind each tree, behind each stone, behind each leaf from whence a spider may at any moment come crawling into our awareness. And this living terrain is supported not only by that more settled or sedimented past under the ground, but by an imminent past resting inside each tree, within each blade of grass, within the very muscles and cells of our own bodies. " Pg 215

As well,
It is evident, however, that when our awareness of time is joined with our awareness of space, space itself is transformed. Space is no longer experienced as a homogeneous void, but reveals itself as this vast and richly textured field in which we are corporeally immersed, this vibrant expanse structured by both a ground and a horizon. It is precisely the ground and the horizon that transform abstract space into space-time. And these characteristics—the ground and the horizon—are granted to us only by the earth. Thus, when we let time and space blend into a unified space-time, we rediscover the enveloping earth. " Pg 216

It would seem, then, that the conceptual separation of time and space—the literate distinction between a linear, progressive time and a homogeneous, featureless space- functions to eclipse the enveloping earth from human awareness. As long as we structure our lives according to assumed parameters of a static space and a rectilinear time, we will be able to ignore, or overlook, our thorough dependence upon the earth around us. Only when space and time are reconciled into a single, unified field of phenomena does the encompassing earth become evident, once again, in all its power and its depth, as the very ground and horizon of all our knowing. Pg217
The Spell Of The Sensuous by David Abram 1996

In what ways can we mindfully blend or integrate
presencewherever we may be or doing today
in the office, car, housework or while just waiting?

When you experience “presence” what do, you notice?


  1. So often I find that if I am not connected with my breath, I am disconnected from my body, and my body from the environment around me. However, when I stop and pay attention to my breath, and bring awareness to it, I am so much more aware of my body. When I become aware of my body, I can connect with the earth and feel myself grounded and rooted. From here I am much better attuned to the present moment and presence.
    I feel this most often in my yoga practice, but I do try to take it off the mat and into the world, the office, while doing the dishes.... :)

  2. I agree Amber. When I attend Yoga regualarly, I am more likely to notice my breath and the deepness of it. Especially when I am driving and antisipate what is going to happen next or deal with being late! (I happen to be in a sluggish period not doing Yoga exercises~ I sure can feel the difference!
    Perhaps that is why we sigh take deep breaths when we stop and smell the roses or look at the view.

  3. The first picture is my absolute favorite. It gave me a sense of tranquility and made me relax instantly. Good job, I like your other work as well! :)

  4. I have been a life long naturalist- in the oldest and most holistic sense, and I feel most connected these days when I am splitting wood or hunting wild mushrooms. I've made a career of natural science and conservation, and now after 35 years of managing, protecting, studying, writing, and teaching about nature, I've begun to think a lot about the meaning of separation. I would like you to ponder this-doesn't a true communion with nature require foraging of some sort? If we are born of nature and part of it, and everything in nature both feeds and is fed by everything else, then why should we be different? Doesn't it make sense that gathering, even including respectful hunting, making things of natural materials, and perhaps even modifying the landscape that you live in in a sustainable way is essential to real communion? Naturalists often abhor or discourage gathering, and I understand the implications of overharvesting, but it seems to me that one needs to make a shelter and eat the fruits of the forest and the fishes of the stream, learn to identify and harvest wild mushrooms and herbs, and come to understand which is which and why they occur where they do to be fully immersed and connected. No one understands nature in more depth than a traditional hunter/gatherer. Just "experiencing" or "pondering" nature in an intellectual sense, or leaving only footprints and taking only photographs without participating directly in the flow of life seems to me to a form of separation in and of itself. I'd like to hear your feelings about this, and sorry for the long post.

  5. Thanks Bill for your thoughtful comment and questions.
    I agree in that connecting with nature deepens, when we are engaging more than one sensory function. Such as smell, vision, hearing, touching on and on.
    When I am outdoors engaged in my Photography it is very much like foraging, gathering and hunting for me. The experience of time is altered as I am fully engaged in what I am noticing or focusing on. It may be my footsteps delicately avoiding a wild flower, mindful breathing to steady the camera, smelling the Sage as the wind blows, peripheral vision noticing an approaching Eagle, the changing hues of colors as the Sun moves.
    There are many people disconnected from nature in society. Whether that be emotionally, consciously, ethically or even just playfully. As environmental degradation continues, it could be important to encourage people to pause and observe and notice what they sense within the natural world. Even if that is water at the beach, a plant in a hospital room, or a Bee on a plant.
    By consciously becoming aware, experiencing the brief stillness, and experiencing sensory input, we tend to choose or seek out more in the natural world. Rather than caught in focusing on our worries, our technology etc., we may move beyond staring out a window to stepping outside for air, or sitting on the grass to stare up into a tree.
    If people are so fortunate, they may cross paths with someone like you. Someone who can mentor, teach, and share an experience of further depth to connect within nature!
    Thanks again for your important comment