To truly be present, we need to be available to the moment with our whole self. This requires not only an act of attention but also an act of integration so that we are drawing upon all parts of ourselves to 'be with' another.
When we think in terms of roles in life, we split ourselves up into parts - a father role, a mother role, a teacher role, a student role - we are not our whole self. Many times, we feel the pressure of social expectations which cause us to believe that we must remain within these roles. However, true expression, intimacy, learning, and healing for ourselves and others cannot come from separating ourselves into parts. It can only come from being touched and touching others in the deepest possible way so that our presence with them, even for a moment, makes a difference.
To step out of a role is not an easy thing but it is a simple one. We need to think of ourselves as souls, here to serve the purposes of love and healing for the earth and for ourselves. To see love as the primary purpose that we bring to all situations, no matter how rule-bound or role-bound they may be, is to strive within each one to make of it a moment of meaning.
Sometimes the access route is through the eyes of another. When we look in another's eyes, we see and are seen. And what we see depends very much upon whether we are operating out of fear or out of love. If we are operating out of fear, we may see judgment, distance, or coolness in another. If we are operating out of love, we will see the beauty of the soul of another. This cannot help but be true, for each human being is a soul, come to the earth with gifts of great beauty. And so if we look with the eyes of love, we will see the soul of love in return.
Often, courage is needed to remain in a place of integrity and wholeness when others around us are not. Often, we must remind ourselves of the purpose for doing so - the purpose for remaining true to ourselves at all times. This purpose has a deep spiritual taproot. It is the root of our knowing that we are unique in all the universe and that the space we occupy cannot be filled by anyone else.
To be true to ourselves, it is often helpful to breathe with awareness - to breathe, and to feel the life of God filling us so that we become an extension of all that is pure and holy and loving. If we are not connected to this greater life, we are more vulnerable to the imagined or real shortcomings that we may feel on the level of the personality. If we are connected, there are no longer shortcomings, there is just love to be shared in all situations, all of the time.
The recognition of the greater Life that is expressing within the physical is the key that unlocks the door to being present. For this greater life flows through us and through all else. It is the ground of our being and the reason we were created. We are expressions of the One, manifesting in an utterly unique and irreplaceable way. Being faithful to that understanding means that we must be ourselves as an expression of honoring the gift of life. When we hold this in mind and heart, we can learn to lead a seamless life, one in which we are, at each moment, fully present, fully alive, and fully ourselves.
See also The Art of Being Present - Part I.