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The Presence Process: A Journey Into Present Moment Awareness Paperback – June 22, 2010
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About the Author
South African-born Michael Brown has also written Alchemy of the Heart. thepresenceprocessportal.com
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The basic ideas that underpin the presence process can be wonderful tools, they're not new and they're presented elsewhere more fully, in more simple and understandable language, and with more integrity. For example, see Zen Mind, Beginners Mind by Shunryu Suzuki for mindfulness, or any of Peter Levine's writing on using the "felt-sense" to integrate emotional experience.
This author spends large amounts of text explaining how and why his process works, often repetitively. And, it quickly becomes clear that although his ideas are presented textbook style, as established and generally applicable fact, they're based solely on his own understanding of his own experience and have little, if any, basis in reality. This book results from him writing down the stories he tells himself about how and why his process works. To put it bluntly, it's fiction. If the author really wants to understand how and why his process works (if indeed it does anything that a basic awareness of mindfulness wouldn't achieve) then he needs to do some basic reading. He could start with the extensive literature describing childhood development, because his description of how this occurs is completely wrong. Alternatively, he could stand by his repeated assertions that his process is experiential and doesn't need to be understood by removing his extensive explanations and accepting his state of "not knowing" as his readers are requested to do. However, this would remove most of the book, including much of the "presence activating" writings that participants are supposed to read every week. Maybe he feels his ideas must be truth because they're "insights gained from direct communication with Presence", but even the most open-minded person is obliged to question their own insights when they run completely counter to decades of in depth research (I'm thinking about his description of childhood development again), at least if they are to claim any level of authenticity.
Any form of emotional work is challenging and scary enough even when we feel we have a competent guide and are in safe hands. This author is apparently incapable of doing his basic research and doesn't have the integrity to properly acknowledge and reference the ideas upon which his own work is based, or the authenticity to admit to what he simply does not know. I will not be putting my emotional integration in his hands.
A little bored, I would read through the weekly chapters and go about my business. Then slowly, it would dawn on me that I was unconsciously doing exactly what he had described in the chapter. I began to realize how much of my actions (and reactions) I was unaware of -- acting out of conditioned mental and emotional reflexes. It is so true that this book must be EXPERIENCED! There is no way to digest it mentally... to understand it with the intellect.
As the weeks went on, I found myself melting... thawing out places I didn't even know were there. My life was changing in ways imperceptible to anyone but me. And I was simply reading through it! By the 8th or 9th week I was hooked and already planning my second time through, where I would complete it as directed (which basically only added a couple breathing sessions per day). But I also needed to quit drinking in order to experience it completely (something I did have the courage to do after the first 10 weeks).
I just started week two of my second time through, and am in complete awe at the depth, clarity, precision, gentleness, and compassion of this text. It is one of the most beautiful and exceptional books I have read in my life. But let me say what he asks you to do is not EASY. And it must be done alone. It is a self-facilitated process that requires courage and humility, and will return to you 10 fold what you put into it. That is why I say, if you're on the fence, or if you've looked at it and not been impressed, give it a chance. Just read it cover to cover and see for yourself.