The Alchemy of Presence

‘Out Beyond all ideas of right doing and wrong doing 
There is a field. I will meet you there’
Day, weekend, or longer workshops, and individual sessions, are offered:

The Alchemy of Presence

12-Garden - Version 2
‘This that we have now is not imagination
This is not grief or joy, 
Not a judging state
nor sadness or elation
 All those come and go.
 This is the Presence that doesn’t.
                     What else could human beings want.’     – Rumi

Before and beyond all techniques and strategies of seeking is the Presence that we already are. This is the ‘Ultimate Medicine’.

This ‘Presence’ is always waiting to emerge more fully , to transform our limits, contractions,  open us into our true nature, and welcome us home from our ancient sense of separation.

A potent vehicle for quickening this alchemical process is the practice of giving and receiving open welcoming attention. In this ‘holy work’ we practice various simple exercises for deepening whole body contact with our true nature, free of doctrines and beliefs. The work is done in the alchemical crucible of our mutual open attentive presence which becomes the elixir and support for the awakening of the divine human being as who we are.

“You already have the precious mixture that will make you well – use it”  – Rumi
‘I call out – “Lord”
 and my lord comes:
“Here I Am” 
 A “Here I Am” that cant be heard,
But it can be tasted  and felt
 In every cell of the body’



There are many ways to try to describe this ‘work’, but it is really so simple, because it is not about doing anything, though we do ‘do’ some things to help allow the ‘undoing’!

It is based on the underlying principle of Christ’s saying: ” When two or three are gathered… I am there”… The I Am  that is ‘there’ is the marvelous Mystery, the Divine Presence that is always waiting for us to avail ourselves of it’s evolutionary grace. It is so subtle that it seems to be nothing, yet is Intelligence, is Love, is Being, is our ultimate and always welcoming never absent help and origin and goal, is That out of which and in which everything is arising and abiding; is both utter peace and absolute dynamism, both formless and in tender love with and permeating all form.

The ‘work’ is simple, yet ‘holy’ as many people have remarked, and it is gentle and fierce, as it is about the truth of love, and the love of truth.

It started many years ago noticing the extaordinary power of speaking the actual truth of one’s experience in the moment, and  later when noticing the extraordinary ‘energy’ and awakeness generated by the intense witnessing and being witnesed in authentic theatre/performance situations as well. I realized that there was a huge catalysing force in the act of giving unconditioned awareness and presence to each other. That stripped of all the usual reasons for doing so,and purified of the usual motives and agendas, attending gently to each other from our whole being, can become a most powerful alchemical quickening and awakening ‘elixir’.  Over many years of experimenting in workshops and with individuals  this proved again and again to be true. Again and again direct experience has confirmed the basic insight, and so have the highest teaching of many ancient and modern spiritual traditions,  of which I am an eternal student.

And the marvelous thing is that this is free, given, innate, is not reliant on any authority or tradition, it is the nature of our Being. However it requires out complete honesty and ongoing openness to  our own direct experience (not what we ‘should be’ experiencing), and openness to allowing the ‘Presence’ to permeate and  unfold us. The divine presence never intrudes, though becoming aware of it’s apparent absence may bring tremendous pain, and thus the ‘call’ to ‘re-member’ it. And in doing so it will inevitably touch everythng, everything we have held seperate from it,transfigure our whole being. So our willingness to let it in can be slow, and much resistance can arise, for we are deeply habituated to our seperation and the safety we have tried to create for ourselves.

So what do we ‘do’?

We let ourselves become present as much as we can, we notice that there is something that is always present, we rest in, soak in That. We give and receive gentle non-judgemental attention. We inquire into our direct experience, we allow ourselves to let go of opinions and trust ourselves to fully experience what is arising, and the process that seems to lead us to what is next. We allow everything as it is , in the field of the Presence. We witness and share without imposing opinions , without ‘fixing’.


We may sit in the ‘hot seat’ and recieve the ‘spirit sauna’ of a group’s attention, staying close to what occurs. We may do movement  or observation exercises. We learn to permeate our whole bodies and the space with awareness presence, or rather to activate our awareness of That imminence.  We may explore the three aspects of our fundamental consciousness and their primary locus in the body. We welcome ourselves and each other, discover the beauty of each precious person, and the love that we are. We surrender.

” Very little grows on jagged rock-  be ground, be crumbled,
So wild flowers will come up where you are.
You’ve been stony for too many years.
Try something different.
                       – Rumi

Perhaps it is helpful to read what people have said (there is more under ‘reviews’):

Recent comments:

“Thank you so much for that wonderful workshop… What I experienced there keeps me going and helped me a few times in difficult moments already, especially with the trust that this presence inside myself really exists, although I haven’t been able to find that place again in the same way… But I know it is here ! The work is so simple, nothing spectacular, but very efficient. I reached a place where I had never been after years of searching in so many different paths… Extraordinary”      – Pr


“Thank you so much for a beautiful day last Sunday. You really have a genuine gift for facilitating this wonderful work, so please do keep going with it! The fact that you’ve travelled to such a depth with your own soul-searching is, I’m sure, part of the key to such a gift. You directly drink from the nectar of the Beloved, yet you also experience and understand the myriad forms of our individual sorrows as we walk this path. This makes you a sensitive bridge between these two realms. “-Paula


“Dear Duncan, I have truly appreciated your last workshop. It’s so remarkable what was possible so instantly in a way on that day, so good to have felt myself in that deeper place of presence which I cannot do when I practice on my own. At times it felt like being completely immersed in this warm vibrant energy field that was there filling the space…what an experience..and it keeps on nourishing me even now. It’s wonderful to benefit form your way of having deepened this kind of work for yourself over a long time I guess, even though we’re all creating something together too. Connecting to the others during our inquiries was very special too.   So sending my deep appreciation.”  Riem


“Thank you, Duncan, for continuing this work.
From last time, just a simple one-day workshop, no pressure, no hassle, but it sank deep, I kept benefiting.
For those of you who don’t know Duncan’s work, here it is:
An exceptionally warm, gentle, non-intrusive teacher, who gives you lots of space to dig deep. That’s Duncan. Of course I am coming, how could I not!” – Livia

from the past:


Here is one regular participant’s description of the work:        “Through sensing our Being permeating the body and being aware of thought processes but not identifying with them, we meet each other exactly as we are at this moment, allowing eternity to shine through. Usual defenses relax and melt into naked True Nature. Being recognises itself in another and is drawn to itself with magnetic force. Walls are acknowledged and therefore crumble. The fire of attention which is love accelerates the cooking, All that appears is recognised and ‘digested’ until we experience the Great Mystery of who we are.  The process integrates the experience of being a separate individual with being one with all and everyone. It brings both  psychological healing and connection to the space which holds us.”   -Agata Krajewski

Duncan’s “The Alchemy of Presence” brought me to a new level of knowing, namely that the silent Presence (or silent Observer) is me – strong and unchanging. That means that I now leave the tools that will enable me to approach my life from a stronger and more peaceful place.”  – Sue Plumtree, London (Skyros)

”A great facilitator- spirit-led. So spontaneous, sensitive, giving space for Spirit to do its work.”                                                                                      -Jasmine , Forest Row

 “I feel I owe you a great deal – all of your courses and presence work were a cut above any that I have had……Gold…..Thank you so much”     -Kristi,Storyteller, Seattle

 “ Duncan’s skillful facilitation and non-judgemental interventions encouraged me and allowed me to explore without my inner critic taking over. I was able to go beyond what I recognise as the numbness that pervades my inner self to discover a self-sustaining energy. There is so much more to me than the vulnerable personality I feel sometimes as I face the world – there is a part that accepts without criticism and loves unconditionally – a part I haven’t been listening to.

 This weekend was a wonderful oasis of “being” in a world of “doing”. Watching others getting in touch with their true selves and letting go of old hurts allowed a releasing within myself. Duncan managed the process so that whatever came up for each of us was accepted as being exactly right for the individual. Witnessing this was extremely touching. At the end of the weekend I was left with a strong sense of peace within myself and towards others.”   – Celia B CMIPD Management Consultant/Trainer.

  “I cannot thank you enough for my ‘vision of reality’- it will never leave me (nor I it!). You are a fine midwife”.       – Estelle Bryer, S.Africa

 “An amazing evening and day… I am still bathed in the beauty of it all and have noticed a  positive shift in my behaviour & outlook on loves, friendships and life as a whole. Your  gentleness and deeply loving nature has helped me greatly. Ah, yes, that’s what you have opened up for me – I am laughing much more on  a real heart-felt level. It is so healing, so joyous!  Thank You and Thank You again.”                                                                                       – Claire, London

“The course was an affirmation of Reality, Powerful and Giving. ” -Michael , London“Duncan is a wonderful group facilitator – everything just flows withease. Inspiration and insight come like playfulness. Many Thanks”    -Christiane M, London

 “The power of simple execises,to be simply more present and what happens when you are is amazing. Thankyou”     – Michael Kaufman. London

 The Presence that had been felt so strongly during the Rumi evening stayed with me through the night. The workshop the following day was a beautifully gentle and supportive process; and now the presence began to be delicately unveiled and grounded in us through the simple exercises.  There were tears and laughter. It was a new experience for me to give space to others to just ‘be’ and to be supported in just ‘being’ myself. This space allowed deep compassion to well up in me for each person there. To experience another human being totally without judgement, without barriers, just as they are, was a beautifully freeing process.  Now the  poetic words of Rumi that we had heard the night before began to live inside us as we began to unfold our own timeless Truth. Duncan works out of  a deep love and sense for the Truth – unsensational, yet truly profound.”   – Philippa Timewell, West Linton, Peebleshire ,Scotland.

 “…thank you again for the deeply moving transmission on Saturday and for the very special workshop that followed. I found the day was enormously rewarding and it touched me deeply” Abigail

“I  just want to say your workshop moved me deeply. My friend and i both felt that was the highlight of the festival. I have not touched such depth before….thank you.”      Vanessa

Duncan Mackintosh’s workshops create a deep and beautiful sense of release into a field of Love, like basking in celestial Sunshine.  Duncan offers simple practices that help us sink into ourselves, here and now, in an attitude of total acceptance. There is no judgement. We are encouraged to inhabit different parts of our body/being, and discover that nothing we experience or feel or share is judged. Despite all our usual doubts and fragilities and insecurities,  all is absolutely welcomed. We discover an all-pervading bedrock of compassion and acceptance for ourselves.
 There is no sense that he is the ‘expert’and we the fumbling beginners. Yet he manages with exquisite delicacy and subtlety to provide just the right words to unlock any knots that one of us happens to be stuck in. We are lifted up by being received by him with such deep appreciation and compassion. It is such a relief to feel so utterly allowed to be, just there and then, warts and all, in whatever mood we are, or state of being. It is like letting go. It feels like coming home to something I have longed for all my life but couldn’t name. It is very moving.
I come away joyful and energised. I feel calmer, clearer and simpler, like I’ve been cleansed of some of my complications. All the next week I feel very open and able to love myself and those around me more, and it all seems so easy.
It is a state of Grace that transforms; the most powerful spiritual work I have come across.”   M.

“…the weekend showed us how to deepen in unconditional presence, and how to use this as a tool for inviting greater intimacy and communication in our relationship …the workshop opened me up to the depths of my longing to be ‘torn open’, and invaded by divine presence, and allowed me to experience this depth of longing in a group of people who allowed themselves to be naked, vulnerable and open with each other in their inquiry into an authentic relationship with all that is.  Your performance was a gift from the heart of love, which contains both ferocity and tenderness, helplessness and majesty…My favourite line from Rumi has got to be:  ‘You make my raggedness silky’…The whole weekend for me was about delving into the mystery which makes the above quotation possible. Thank you for your commitment to deepening our availability to love and presence.  ” – Francois

“Duncan held the space in a very sensitive, gentle, uplifting humble and intuitive manner, meeting the needs of the course and participants.”

-“A strong course going so deep.”

-“The care , devotion, presence with which everything was done /said bringing us into awareness and the spoken poetry!”

“Please know how much I appreciate your sharing precious gifts of truth.My gratitude goes beyond words. I am inspired to the core of my being, O the joy of connecting with deep, rooted self. Do please let me know when/where I can discover more of this, I feel a deep calling, and I have been searching forever with sometimes more, sometimes less hope. Thank you”  – F.

Christ said: “I am with you always”

When Ramana Maharshi was dying and his disciples pleaded with him not to leave , he said

“Where could i go? I am here.” 

Photo on 2013-09-16 at 23.38 #2[1]

‘Lo, I am with you always’

You promised that

and when I realized this was true

my soul leaped with joy.

 Now, all my suffering comes from forgetting.

                      Remember, and be back close, with the Friend     – Rumi