Being Here Present Now is a newly re-instated programme at Concord Institute. The programme is facilitated by Evan Root; a long-time facilitator of transformation who has worked with Concord over many years. Evan brings a very different expression of transformation; with circles, and waves, and fluidity; a guttural experience that comes from, and arrives back into the body. I participated in the programme last year, setting in motion a fundamental shift, the impact of which I am only now beginning to fully appreciate. I went into the programme quite unsure of what I was going into. On one level I had signed up because it was a new programme and lots of other people were doing it! On another level there was something much more going on – Life was offering me a bigger invitation.

The programme started on the Thursday evening, and as the group gathered for the introductory session that invitation started to become clear. Evan invited us each to consider why we were there, what was the “call” we were responding to? Our conversation wove individually and collectively with the group and facilitator, as we dove head first into ourselves, to discern our call that had brought us into the programme – not bland desires and comforts, but what was there in the deepest part of ourselves that we were called to be, to engage with, that we yearned for? We searched, we spoke, and we knew it when we found it – we felt a clunk – a ‘knowing’ in the belly that that was our calling. For me, it felt all too terrifying to speak.

I battled and finally acknowledged the call to “bring myself forwards”, in the sense of listening to myself, acknowledging my being, the voice inside, and the most terrifying part of it – speaking myself, expressing what’s really there; the good, the bad, and the ugly, to coin a phrase.

And I was in just the right place to explore that. In Being Here, Present Now awareness became a fundamental perspective, that we brought to conversation, silence, exercises, and games. It is an opportunity to stop, quieten, to pause everyday life; and use that space to get present to who and what is there in each of us. For me, I became present to my inner conversation, that is 99.9% of the time critical of myself, and saw how I second-guessed others around me – trying to work out what I can do to please, to ensure they like me. Underneath that, I was mostly ignoring the powerful emotions of anger and sadness. I saw how most of the time I was covering these over with “nice-ness”, for fear of how they would be received, that if people knew what was really going on, I would be rejected.

Being Here, Present Now provided the opportunity to really become aware of all of this. And not in a psychological or mental understanding way, which is my tendency. I was able to experience and connect in a very different way to the place from which all this comes; the terror I have of other people, that drives me, stops me from “bringing myself forwards”, keeps me in protective, hidden mode. I could of course analyse where all this comes from, but that isn’t necessary. The programme provided an opportunity to connect to it in a very different way. I could visualise the child who experienced this terror, experience the emotions she felt, and have a uniquely safe space to release those emotions gutturally and physically.

This is what is so powerful about Being Here, Present Now: the programme provides a safe and non-judgmental space to connect with what has been driving us, unacknowledged, for a lifetime. To express it, verbally and physically, and to be energetically held in that, tenderly, compassionately, and from a space of love, by the other participants, the team, the facilitator.

As a facilitator, Evan Root provided this in his very being; a space of safety, gentleness, strength. But this is a transformational programme – there was nothing fluffy in this! There was shrewd perception, astute and surgical observation. We saw the characters at play, who was there for each of us, running the show of our lives. And Evan provided an ultimate space of safety to express this, with no judgement, just complete acceptance; the fine balance of trust and exposure that enables transformation.

On the final day of the weekend portion of the programme I had a powerful image; of being that child who is so terrified of people. Standing in a large, cold, gothic stone church – a very familiar place from my childhood. I saw myself taking her by the hand, leading her out, “bringing her forwards”. And essentially for me that was the essence of the programme, to connect with the deeply felt but unacknowledged, to name it, to feel it, to express it, and to hold it and walk forwards. Sounds simple – it wasn’t so much in practice!

Life felt very different in the days after the programme. Something fundamental had shifted. Evan advises taking some space from everyday life in the days immediately following the weekend. A lot of energy had moved over the weekend and we are not used to functioning at this frequency; life feels very different. Space allows energy to settle, to re-orientate. Whatever space you can create is valuable. For me, having exposed the terror I was living on top of, there was space for life to re-emerge. Space to connect with, to speak into existence some unexpressed dreams I had not yet dared to speak. What was in the way was now on the table, and whispered dreams could be placed alongside it with honesty.

The last session brought completion; an opportunity for the participants, team, and facilitator to reconvene. To connect again with each other and our calling in that safe space, and to receive recommendations to support us going forwards. There was a profound beauty in the candlelit completion ceremony – declaring and acknowledging ourselves here, present, now.

The months following the programme have been full; in honesty what Life has thrown up in response to my calling and whispered dreams has been some of the most challenging times of recent years. Life seems to have been asking me if I’m really up for taking on my calling. Some days I can say yes, and some days I’d rather hide. And yet this time I have the opportunity to be present throughout it – to bring awareness to my reactions, my inner voice. This is the opportunity, even in the most desperate of situations, to continue to “bring myself forwards”.

Part of the support following the completion of the programme was the acknowledgement of a “gestation period” for our calling; 9 months in human terms. As such, my calling is being birthed, brought forth, this February. For me, this includes taking on organising Being Here, Present Now this year. As I review my life over the past 9 months, I see the opportunities I have had to bring myself forwards – the gestation period it has truly been. This programme is about being here from the inside out; acknowledging our true self and allowing that to be in the world. The invitation is to listen for your calling; and be ready for the (phone) call to take it on!

Anna Halsall