Presence happens when you are so deeply relaxed into yourself and accepting of yourself that you feel free to be genuine. The secret to presence is to be fully grounded in your body so that you have a full-body sense of awareness. When you are grounded and present, you experience sensation and awareness in every part of your body, all the way down to your toes. It may sound strange, but many people live with minimal or limited awareness of their bodies. They don’t have much sensation or awareness below the neck, and they tend to stay focused only in their heads.
The phrase “being in your head” literally means your attention and energy are overly focused in the head region. Our society has tended to place much emphasis on “mind over body,” and our religious roots have even taught us that the body is something that is bad or potentially evil – something to be subdued and repressed using the power of the mind. Without getting into a long discussion of Western societal attitudes toward the body, suffice it to say we need to reclaim our entire bodies, most of
which are located below the neck.
Developing the experience of presence requires you to become full-bodied. Full-bodied awareness is more than just muscle relaxation. It is awareness of the flow of psycho-physical energy in every part of your body. As you develop awareness and energy throughout your whole body, you begin to radiate an external quality of presence that others will sense. Your presence will touch people on an unspoken level, increase your power to influence and hold their attention.
One of my favorite client success stories concerning the power of presence for performance involves an actor named Chip Manfre. Taking seriously the techniques taught in Speaking from the Heart, Chip practiced the grounding and energy awareness exercises diligently. After completing the course, he was cast as the lead role in a local production of Dracula. I went to see Chip perform as Dracula on a very cold January night. The theater was so cold that I could not stop shivering, even though I was wearing a sweater and heavy coat. I shivered through the first 20 minutes of the play, before Dracula appeared on stage.
Then, Chip, as Dracula, made his entrance. He slid onto the stage with an eerie aura of presence wrapped around him like a cloak. As he took center stage, Chip opened his arms and expanded his field of energy to fill the entire theater. I could hear the gasp from the audience. His presence was palpable. Inside my body, I felt the heat come up my spine instantly. Within five minutes I was warm enough to throw off my coat. The power of his presence was so strong that it caused me – and surely other members of the audience as well – to respond physiologically. Presence is a high state of energy, and it causes others to raise their energy level. It literally excites the cells of other people’s bodies.
You can learn, through diligent practice, to concentrate your energies and develop your own power of presence. Grounding is the first step to developing your own magnetic presence.