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being present

Buddhist monk and teacher Thich Nhat Hanh speaks of the 4 Mantras of Presence that we must contemplate and act upon to experience love with another person. These mantras can be used in any love relationship -- between spouses, from parent to child, and with close friends. They help focus our attention on the purpose of love relationships and bring out our best selves within relationship.

The first mantra is, "Darling, I'm here for you." This mantra is more powerful than it sounds. The act of being fully present for another human being speaks love in a simple and meaningful way. No smart phones. No television. No computer. Turn toward your loved one, look them in the eyes, and give yourself. It speaks, "Of everything I can do, I am choosing to be here with you. I am denying all else and all others to spend this moment with you." Imagine what it would feel like to experience that from your partner. Imagine how your child might receive such a message. What feelings might it evoke? Just being present awakens the heart and the senses to life in the moment and can create much happiness in itself.

The second mantra is, "Darling, I know you are here." This mantra focuses our attention to the present and expresses gratitude for the other. It says, "Thank you so much for giving of your time and heart to me. I see you, and I love you." Recognizing the presence of our loved one and realizing all that they have denied in order to be here is powerful. Seeing them for exactly who they are and acknowledging and accepting them heals wounds.

"I know that you suffer, and that's why I'm here," is the third mantra. All of us suffer. When we are mindful to the suffering of another and are fully present for them, we can begin to relieve suffering. Sit close to your loved one. Notice their pain. Let them know you see their suffering, and remain with them through it. It says, "I am not afraid of your suffering. It can not turn me away."

"Darling, I suffer. Help me," is the final mantra and perhaps the most difficult. Our pride often keeps us from sharing our pain, and we suffer alone. If it is our loved one who has caused our suffering, we often tuck it away and hope the suffering fades; or we use our suffering to hurt her/him in hopes that we'll reduce our own pain. Instead, we must practice humility and honesty and ask our loved one for their help. "I'm hurting. Please be with me right now. Let me know I matter, and my pain will ease."

Be present for each other as if no one else exists in this world, and see what joy comes from connecting in this way. See how many loved ones you can practice true presence with, and let your presence alone be a healing experience.

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