True presence is absent of preconceived notions, and that includes stereotypes. Among others, lawyers have suffered from innumerable jokes that caricature them in stereotypical ways.
So I am delighted to say the best definition of presence I've found was created by CUNY Law Professor Victor Goode and Jeanne Anselmo, RN, author of chapter 15, "Relaxation" in Holistic Nursing: A Handbook for Practice.
Their presentation, "Law in the Service of Human Needs: Social Justice and Contemplative Practice," defines presence as a contemplative skill:To Goode and Anselmo: Bravo, Brava!!!
"Therapeutic Presence assists students and attorneys to bring a centered, grounded, open, aware, active, concerned connection with one's self, one's client and the environment. It is not detached, nor is it numbing out, but rather is remaining as fully present as possible in the face of chaotic, difficult and challenging circumstances."To achieve this state, we develop awareness and trust in our own purpose and process, self care and self reflection, and deep listening. Borrowing from Goode and Anselmo's presentation, these steps are key:
- Ground Yourself: Stand comfortably, breathe deeply and drop your breath to your center of gravity in the lower abdomen.
- Center Yourself: Connect to your intention for the interaction and your deeper commitment; allow your personal and professional resources to arrive in the moment (spontaneously vs. planned).
- Listen Deeply and with Compassion: Seek to understand the other person without judgment.