On the other hand, I realized while meditating recently that you can’t be present without being free of the intervention of thought for the same reason ... your thinking mind will take you everywhere but to the present.
So which comes first, being present or bring free of the intervention of thought? The answer in this case is not a trick answer like the chicken and egg question. In this case they are both part of the same whole. They come together as a package. The one is not a precondition for the other, they are co-conditional.
So when you are truly focused on your breathing in and breathing out, you are present, free of the intervention of thought. And if your ego or thinking mind arises and tries to pull you away, you will have the awareness to say, “No, I’m not going there; I have compassion for you and appreciate where you’re coming from, but following you leads to nothing but fear and anxiety, frustration, and suffering. I seek my guidance from my true Buddha nature, free of labels, free of the intervention of thought. I have turned my will and my life over to my true Buddha nature and see my life and the world around me through its eyes.”