What's your presence practice?

“I’m just having so much trouble focusing,” Frank said. “It’s interrupting the level of service I’m providing my clients.”

“Do you have a time of day that’s completely free of distractions? Where you don’t owe anything to anybody and nobody owes anything to you?” I asked.

“No. I don’t,” he replied.

I paused.

“Maybe I should take just a minute in between meetings to refocus and breathe,” he continued.

“I think that would be a great idea!” I answered.

Many years ago I once heard someone remark about how, starting when we’re little, there are so many demands placed on our time that we end up getting completely disoriented, lose track of who we are and where we’re headed.

(Do you think 150 years ago there were as many demands placed on people’s time and attention?)

From what I could hear, Frank, a client, was struggling with this challenge.

The demands of building a growing business had taken such precedent in his life that something crucial got pushed out of his schedule: unfettered, unrestrained time. Time to be. Time to think. Time to focus.

The late Joseph Cambell has an incredible quote about this: “You must have a room, or a certain hour or so a day, where you don’t know what was in the newspapers that morning, you don’t know who your friends are, you don’t know what you owe anybody, you don’t know what anybody owes to you.

“This is a place where you can simply experience and bring forth what you are and what you might be. This is the place of creative incubation. At first you may find that nothing happens there. But if you have a sacred place and use it, something eventually will happen.”

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Some people are big cheerleaders for journaling, meditation, prayer, or yoga. To me, what matters is less about the specific activity than the fact that you have that unfettered time.

For me, this time is running. Preferably on a wooded trail. Far away from people.

I don’t know what happens during this time, but something happens. Because when I don’t have this time, I feel off. I get testy. I can’t think clearly. I’m not as good a’ husband or dad to my dog, Brooklyn.

Something about being in nature makes me connect with the divine. In nature, I feel that all is well. The trees and birds and deer don’t stress. They’re not impatient or confused or lost. They are as they are, doing what they’re here to do. They move with the seasons and embrace what happens.

Here’s the kicker: It’s so easy for me to write this time off and tell myself that I don’t need it. Or settle for a half-ass solution. But this time matters. It matters as much as sleep.

More than just having unrestrained time to ourselves, I think we also need some of this time to get out of our own minds. To step outside of the constant stream of thoughts that begins as soon as we wake up.

So, what about you?

Do you have a room, routine, or a time of a day where you don’t owe anything to anybody?

If you don’t, what’s it costing you to continue without that?