Practicing Presence, on Father’s Day and Every Day

Photo credit: Elaina Mortali

One of the foundational practices of yoga is presence. Yoga, meditation, and other forms of contemplative and wisdom practices are built on the foundation of cultivating present-moment awareness. Being present, for whatever life is presenting you with, is where we begin. 

As a father, I find that this practice is essential. Besides providing for the basic needs of my family, I feel that my duty is to be present for them. That means paying attention to what is happening—attuning to my children by watching their body language and listening to their tone of voice. It means doing my very best to show up for them. It means putting the phone away and giving them my undivided attention, even when it’s hard. 

One situation that always comes to mind is the time the Kripalu School of Ayurveda was graduating its class of Ayurvedic Health Coaches. Graduation was on Sunday morning, and I had spent Saturday doing research and writing for graduate school. Suffice to say, I had not spent much time with my son that week. 

When I told him that I had to go back to work for half the day on Sunday, he broke down in tears. It was one of those heart-crushing moments as a parent—one that I know many working parents experience as they attempt to balance everything that’s on their plates.

I stopped what I was doing and reflected back to Stryder what I had heard. “You miss Daddy a lot.” He nodded.

“You feel really sad that I am going away again.” More nodding and more tears.

“Would you like to come with Daddy to the graduation?” Big smile, nodding, and a giant hug.

So Stryder came with me to the Kripalu School of Ayurveda graduation. He got dressed up and we got to be together all day. He got to see what I do and to be around our students, who were kind, inspiring, and welcoming.

There is so much pain for many people associated with fathers (and mothers). What they have done for us, what they haven’t done, how they have been there, and how they haven’t been there. No one is perfect, but we can all strive to do our best, to love more deeply, to listen to our children and to our parents, and to make our homes places of love and caring. That takes being there—not just physical presence but bringing all of ourselves to the process.

In whatever way you honor this day that is set aside for fathers, I invite you to take a deep breath and invite your attention into the present moment. And maybe appreciate a dad you know who is working hard to do that, too. 

Micah Mortali is lead Kripalu faculty, the Founder of the Kripalu School of Mindful Outdoor Leadership and author of Rewilding.

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