Leah Ferrone: The Quality of Your Presence – Palette
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Leah Ferrone: The Quality of Your Presence

by Leah Ferrone
Brave Lion Mindfulness + Movement

It was during my high school years, and I was wearing a hot pink and purple tie-dyed Ben and Jerry’s shirt. My mother was leading my siblings and I through a forest trail in Spa State Park. But this wasn’t just any stroll, she was guiding us through a mindful walk. She asked us to walk in silence, noticing what we saw, heard, smelt, felt and even tasted in that sweet summer air.

To this day, nearly 30 years later, I vividly remember the feeling of my feet on the soft and squishy moss cover, the bird song everywhere and that maybe for the first time, us five kids were quiet, calm and captivated by the wonders of what the forest had to offer. It wasn’t my first experience with mindfulness, but it’s one of the core memories I go back to when I reflect on how my mindfulness practice became my most trusted and loyal companion.

The quality of our presence in those moments, those many decades ago still lives viscerally within me today. And that’s what “mindfulness” is. It can actually mean a lot of different things to people, but from my experience and research it’s practicing loving self-awareness about what’s going on around you, and within you. Being present in this precious moment, with as little judgment as possible.

 

It Sounds Nice, Right?
But why, what’s so great about that? There is extensive neuroscience research as to why present moment awareness is a critical key to our well-being. The science alone is enough to be the “why.” But it’s not my “why.”

Now, don’t get me wrong. I love the science of it. For example, considering my mindful walk in the forest, I love this statistic on the impact of mindful time spent in nature. A University of Oregon study showed that it only takes the human brain 50 milliseconds to detect fractals in nature. A fractal is a series of patterns repeating at different scales—and creating fractals is something nature does best. Just think of pinecones, the skin of a pineapple, the spiraling of succulents and snowflakes.

The team also measured a positive mental response of those mindfully observing fractals and showed up to a 60 percent reduction in stress and mental fatigue. So as fascinating and cool as the science is, it’s not why I’ve aligned my truest life’s purpose around living mindfully.

I can best articulate my “why” through a quote that stopped me in my tracks. Vietnamese Buddhist monk and peace activist, Thich Naht Hahn, was quoted as saying, “The quality of our presence is the most positive element that we can contribute to the world.” 🫶🏼

 

The Quality of Our Presence
The quality of our presence in the woods that summer afternoon decades ago had a different vibration, it was something unique and special. Many of us would consider ourselves present all the time, at least in physical form, but what’s the quality of our presence? Does the quality of our presence have layers of worry, boredom, judgment, grasping, rumination and rigidity? Because we can absolutely approach our physical presence and focus with forceful rigidity, as if it’s just another task to check off our list.

But what if your quality of presence was the embodiment of; trust, curiosity, acceptance, generosity, gratitude, flexibility and equanimity? What if the quality of our presence embodied just one of those attributes.

You know the difference.

Take a moment to think of someone in your life who makes you feel like they have nowhere else they would rather be, and nothing else they would rather do than be with you. I bet there is a softness in their face, a curiosity in their eye. You have their focus and attention. They are listening to the words you say and you feel expansion to express yourself authentically. They ask questions and patiently wait for your response. They are anchored in the moment with you.

To “be” with someone in the fullest sense of awareness includes both physical and emotional presence—and it yields this quality that is tender, open and awake. This is a gift to give to yourself and the world.

 

We Have to Live in The World
And this is not to say that the quality of presence you cultivate through a mindfulness practice is that of this blissed out, infallible being. No, we have to live in the world. As Cory Muscara says, “Mindfulness is not a vacation from hard things. It’s the training ground for hard things.” A dedicated mindfulness practice helps us find stability and balance in our presence when the winds and waves of life try to toss us around. If we can count on anything, we can count on there being both joy and challenges in this lifetime.

With your mindfulness practice, you stand a better chance of embodying acceptance and ease when you don’t get the job, or you do get the job, or when you wait 48 hours for the doctor to call with test results. With your mindfulness practice, you stand a better chance of remaining patient and flexible while your child is tantruming or your teen is weeping over friendship heartache. With your mindfulness practice, you could maintain the essence of trust and nonjudgment when your partner lets you down, or when you let your partner down.

 

Awareness and Practice
Your dedicated mindfulness practice will help you maintain equanimity and generosity as you watch your parents age and you realize you are entering a new phase of your own childhood. And all the while, this loving self-awareness allows you to feel, process and soothe all the emotions that come with each one of those scenarios. That awareness will allow you to call upon the right mindful tool to guide you through.

It takes a lifetime of practice, and it will never be perfect, but it will be better, even when you feel like you are taking a step back. Eventually, you will notice that all your accomplishments and accolades are lovely and valuable, but nothing truly has been more impactful than the quality of your presence in each moment along the way.

The true definition of my “why” started on that mossy trail in Spa Park many years ago, and today, it brings me so much honor to help people find their trail, for them to create a map that leads to the ultimate treasure—a quality of presence embodying the attributes of mindfulness. Through my business, Brave Lion, I am offering 5-week 1:1 Mindful Coaching where we create the most accessible, simplified and personalized mindfulness plan to meet you where you are.

Learn more and book a free 20-minute consultation here.

Connect with me on Instagram HERE!

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The PALETTE PRO Blog features words from presenters (and in this case, our illustrious hosts) of the PALETTE PRO Mixers, which are monthly events that feature presentations and inspiration from Palette members. CLICK HERE for your ticket to the next event!