One of the attractive aspects of facilitation is that you don’t have to do the work for your group. Though sometimes, what you do have to do is a lot harder. One of those things, which I see as the hallmark of an advanced facilitator, is our ability to be truly present with our group. Let’s explore what I mean by being present and why it is important.
To be present, you have to release your attention to the past or the future and invest your full attention in the present moment alone. In this state of mind, paradoxically, you know nothing because your are applying your brain power to fully experiencing what’s happening with and among your group. This is important because very few of us really ever live fully in the present moment. When we do witness someone in this state, it’s powerful and transformative, not only for them but for everyone in their presence. A fully present facilitator serves as the clearest mirror possible for her group, which in turn the group the opportunity to see themselves–their actions, their thoughts, and their feelings at once clearly–which has a way of revealing the best next action with regard to the work they’re assembled themselves to do.
How Do We Practice Presence?
- Practice an attitude of gratitude and appreciation. Be grateful for being in a position of group leadership and grateful for the insights that you trust will come in the moment. This element of trust is essential as it allows you to more easily rest in the present. Fear of not knowing what do do thrusts you into the past or future causing you to miss the opportunities available now.
- Notice when you are evaluating or judging what you or others are doing. Again, these are the voices of the past or future that sap our attention. Further, judgments are a reflection of our own unresolved emotional issues. What a wonderful opportunity to take note and to put it aside for later resolution. Simply notice when you are not in the present and gently return to being present. This is an ongoing practice.
- Be gentle with your course corrections. It’s easy to become frustrated when we begin to notice how often we aren’t present. Any frustration or judgment about our ability to be present is another impediment. We all drift in and out of the present. Just notice this with a neutral or even better, a loving attitude, and come back to the now.
- It doesn’t have to make sense. What comes to you to share with your group, or what happens as a result of how you show up in your group as a result of being present with them doesn’t have to make sense to you. You may begin to notice some incredible things unfold or may be surprised by the things you’re compelled to do or so from this place of present moment awareness. Your job is only to trust and act in accordance with the presents of the present. This is its magic working. You don’t have to figure it out, as it is far beyond your capacity to do so.
- Be a facilitator of few words. The less you say the more your presence is felt and the more you’re intuition will show up.
- Give up your need to be a success. A lot of what we do as group leaders, consciously or not, has to do with our desire to be “successful,” in whatever form that happens to take. Being fully present and responding from the present moment will insure the deepest and most pervasive success your group is ready for.
- Just stay with it. At times resistance, both yours and theirs, may show up to tempt you out of the present. This is the time to continue the practice as resistance often is a sign that breakthroughs are around the corner.
- Practice a meditative discipline. Practicing a meditative discipline is the easiest way to be present. Practice strengthens your ability to be in the present with your groups, particularly when things heat up. Mastering presence in the privacy of your own home will be the best gift you can give to yourself and your groups
Practice being present with your next group. Come prepared as usual, and give up your need to know, say, or do anything to assure some preconceived notion of success. I’m interested in hearing what happened. So please share your comments, experiences, questions, or feedback with all of us below. Also view our video below, How to Stay Present as a GroupLeader that walks you through an exercise in presence.