Rethinking Varela's Presencing Ideal

Introducing a Three-Stage Method for Cultivating Presencing Mastery


  • Olen Gunnlaugson Université Laval Author



dynamic presencing, presencing, presencing awareness, presencing mastery, ontological


This article addresses Francisco Varela’s epistemological ideal of presencing mastery. For some time, further clarification has been needed to explore its feasibility, the methodological means to it as well as its cultivation in contexts of practice. As a response, drawing from the work of Dynamic Presencing (Gunnlaugson 2020, 2021, 2023; Gunnlaugson and Brendel, 2019, 2020, 2021), I introduce a three-stage ontological process-method for cultivating presencing mastery by developing one’s presencing self from the ground of presence in the presencing field. In contrast to Varela’s ideal, this ontological method serves as an internal, subtle yet robust scaffolding structure, that when applied as a transformative method, introduces a new form of presencing mastery as a generative way of being in leadership and coaching contexts.

Author Biography

  • Olen Gunnlaugson, Université Laval

    OLEN GUNNLAUGSON, Ph.D. serves as an Associate Professor in Leadership & Coaching within the Department of Management in the EQUIS, AACSB & PRME accredited Business School at Université Laval, in Québec, Canada. With an interdisciplinary research background in presencing leadership and coaching development, he received his Ph.D. at the University of British Columbia and did his Post-Doctorate at Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, Canada.

    To date, his current and forthcoming research has been published internationally in 15 edited books as well as over 50 articles and chapters in leading academic journals and books. He has presented and keynoted at numerous international conferences and received five prestigious faculty level awards for excellence in teaching from universities in Canada and the USA. Over the past twenty years in his Master-level classes, he has taught and coached several thousand students (mainly emerging leaders, managers and executives) at universities in Canada, USA, Austria, Sweden, South Africa and South Korea.

    Globally, his current research focuses on supporting those leaders, managers and coaches who aspire to develop personal mastery in leading their lives and work from an inner place of deeply resourced presence, presencing and embodied practical wisdom. Connected with this work, over the past decade he has served as lead editor of the academic-practitioner book, "Perspectives on Theory U: Insights from the Field" as well as the three volume book series, "Advances in Presencing." Recently he stepped into the thought leadership role as editor in chief of the new International Journal of Presencing Leadership & Coaching to continue building this exciting new field of applied practice.







Academic Think Pieces

How to Cite

Rethinking Varela’s Presencing Ideal: Introducing a Three-Stage Method for Cultivating Presencing Mastery. (2024). International Journal of Presencing Leadership & Coaching, 1(1), 190-210.