011: Presence

A few weeks ago, my world got shaken up.

I traveled to Tulum for my first "mastermind summit" (through Fit For Service, a community I joined that's focused on business, health, and spiritual growth).

Once in a while, you feel you've found something. Upon meeting the group in Tulum, I felt that deeply—these are my people, this is my vibe.

Why? They were so present. They listened in a way that reflected genuine curiosity and a type of fearless openness.

Throughout my week in Tulum, I became "infected" with a type of calm, fearless presence.

You could almost say I became a different person.

Go on, say it.

"You became a different person that week, Sam."

Interesting thought—in a sense, yes, but in a sense, no.

Because I was still me. Just a me that felt more me.

WTF? How can I become more me?


If you think about it, it's an enormous mind-fuck how drastically our thoughts shift from moment to moment.

One moment, my mind is a jagged, neurotic pinball machine. The next, I'm in flow, generating calm ideas.

Since returning to Austin (and seeing my presence return to Austin levels), I've been pondering this idea more and more.

And what's exciting is that I'm slowly learning the underlying mechanism.

Presence is about relinquishing control.

More specifically: I cannot control my thoughts, I can only listen to them.

As I go through the world, I have different impulses and desires. My stomach wants food. My soul wants music. My ego wants applause. My inner nerd wants to talk about Bitcoin for hours without taking a breath.

To think I can control these desires is outlandish (just as outlandish as thinking I need to follow them blindly).

When I stop trying to control my desires, I begin to learn about myself.

Ahh, that text from my mom made me anxious.

Ahh, I struggle to focus because I feel overwhelmed with my to-do list.

Ahh, there's an internal tug-of-war between making money and loving my work.

Slowly, it becomes clear that "my mind" is a just shorthand term for the collective of voices within it.

And the quality of my presence is the extend that these voices can become friends with one another.

The more I realize I'm not the speaker of my thoughts, but the audience member, the more I reach a natural state of calm.

This state is the clarity of mind where all thoughts effortlessly arise.

And it's powerful.

New Phone Strategy

I've been disabling notifications.

Previously, I did this for unimportant apps—I'm fine not knowing Whole Foods has discounted chicken to $3.99 (great deal, don't get me wrong).

But I'm starting to do this for important apps too. Do I need to know the instant I get a new email? Probably not. Same with podcasts. I love them, but don't need a tap on the shoulder the instant an episode is released.

Notifications are, almost by definition, distraction. I only want the ones which are truly essential.

Quote I'm Pondering

“What does the voice of fear whisperer to you?

Fear speaks to you in logic and reason. It assumes the language of love itself.

Fear tells you ‘I want to make you safe.’ Love says ‘you are safe.’

Fear says ‘give me symbols, give me frozen images, give me something I can rely on.’

Loving truth says ‘only give me this moment.’

Fear would walk you on a narrow path, promising to take you where you want to go.

Love says ‘open your arms, and fly with me.’

Every moment of your life, you are offered the opportunity to choose: love or fear.

To tread the earth, or to soar the heavens.

Why would fear want to oppose truth? Because truth has the power to transform fear. Fear believes it is fighting for its life.”

Ram Dass, in his audiobook Becoming Nobody (I love this quote, and transcribing it only does partial justice—I uploaded the entire segment here if you wanna listen to it).

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