The Boundless Universe of Presence
From the point of view of Tibetan Buddhist psychology, presence can be seen as a gateway into the virtual entirety of the dharma teachings. Understanding and cultivating mindfulness practice within this understanding is a pathway to deepened therapeutic presence and clinical impact with clients. As with similar constructs, it is useful to think of presence in stages. It has a beginning, a middle, and an end--a ground, a path, and a fruition. The ground is comprised principally of four groups of qualities:
The ground alone, while vast, is not enough. In psychotherapy, it exists as a vehicle for very personal communication. This is where the path comes in. The path becomes operative through the content of what is being communicated or taught-in this case, some aspect of the psychotherapeutic process. Finally, with the passage of time, one often forgets a great deal of what one has heard. What one remembers instead is how one felt at the time of the communication and how the other person seemed to be--the element of connection. This is the fruitional element of presence, which is a kind of transmission, and it goes far beyond the written or the spoken word.
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Charles W. Styron, Psy. D., is a clinical psychologist in private practice in Watertown, Massachusetts, as well as a consulting psychologist for Caritas Norwood Hospital in Norwood, Massachusetts. He is also the treasurer for The Institute of Meditation and Psychotherapy, a former architect, and a family man with 21-year-old daughter. Additionally, Dr. Styron has been a practitioner and teacher in the Shambhala and Tibetan Vajrayana Buddhist traditions for 38 years. He is a contributing author to Mindfulness and Psychotherapy, Second Edition.