I have been exploring with a client what it means to feel wholly present in an action and in the moment of it. This might be a good description of Maslow’s ‘Self-actualisation’, which the great Carl Rogers saw as ‘the curative force in psychotherapy – man’s tendency to actualize himself, to become his potentialities…the urge to express and activate all the capacities…of the self’.
Ponder this for a moment. Are there times when you feel this for yourself, or sense it in others? When you feel in tune with yourself, others, or with a sense of place?
It might be when someone:
*cooks food with a sort of alchemic magic
*is wholly absorbed in their gardening
*responds to children with real connection, or finds a creative way to explain to them something they couldn’t understand before
*solves a dispute by some calm way of standing with and between both sides
*finds the funny thing to say that’s not sarcastic or hurtful
*trains and bonds as one with cats, dogs – or horses, as in agility or dressage
*takes an engine apart and puts it together again with an almost-intuitive understanding of what was wrong
*paints or sculpts or writes a poem that captures an essence of something
*feels completely at one with the spirit of a particular place
*listens to a piece of music or plays a musical instrument with soul, heart, mind engaged (“You are the music while the music lasts”),
*runs, cycles, swims, hang-glides, skates with innate ease
*or just feels totally relaxed in the moment
and all of these being felt with a sense of freedom, connection, joy, laughter. And what might be a chore for one could be joy for another: uniquely an expression and experiencing of them as a whole person, apart from anyone else. This is different from just being good at something, and is not competitive. It is not about being the best. Nor does it define a person – it is just an outward living flow of them at that moment. It is a moment of integration between the essence of a person and them living it in life.
In the film, Chariots of Fire, Eric Lidl says, ‘God made me, and he made me fast, and when I run, I feel His pleasure.’ Whether or not you believe in God is immaterial in sensing the unity between Lidl’s running and the essence of him engaged in that.
So what stops you from allowing your Self to be present in your outer life? I guess fear, and that can have many tentacles, one of which is the fear of self-indulgence. But to be more yourself means that you have more of yourself to give to others.
 T.S.Eliot, in The Dry Salvagesfrom The Four Quartets