This week, Life Training Online is reviewing The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment, by Eckhart Tolle, the tenth of fifty-two books in the 52 Personal Development Books in 52 Weeks series.
Mind Strategies for Avoiding the Now
One of the core points the author tries to get across throughout the book is that the mind is separate from ourselves. Also, it has its own agenda.
The mind is your ego’s representative — the enemy to true Being or living in the Now. It will do everything in its power to keep you from experiencing the present moment fully. And if you can understand the common strategies the mind uses to keep you from being fully conscious, you’ll be able to more quickly enter and maintain the state of being completely in the present. We’ve already discussed worry and guilt. Another major strategy the mind employs is waiting.
What Tolle refers to as waiting is our tendency to look to the future for our happiness. We are constantly waiting for that next job, or the next vacation, the next relationship, or waiting until we make lots of money — until we’ll be happy. This state of mind is destructive to living fully in the present. What you are really saying is that you want the future and not the present. You don’t want what you’ve got and you want what you don’t have. Making a habit of this will greatly reduce the quality of your life.
When you catch yourself “waiting”, snap yourself out of it. Just enjoy being. Come into the present moment and look for the beauty and life that is all around you. I like Tolle’s example:
“So the next time somebody says, ‘Sorry to have kept you waiting,’ you can reply, ‘That’s alright, I wasn’t waiting. I was just standing here enjoying myself — in joy in my self.’”
The State of Presence
According to Tolle, there’s no way to intellectually understand what ‘presence’ is. Truly understanding presence is being present. When you are intensely present you are free of thought, and one of the best ways to become intensely present is by becoming aware of your inner body (which I’ll talk about in the next section).
For most of us, the only relief we find from the ramblings of our mind is by occasionally reverting to a level of consciousness below thought. Sleep is one way in which we all do it. Another way people find relief is through sex, alcohol, and other drugs. But these are all temporary ‘fixes’ without any lasting solution.
The answer is not found in falling back to a conscious level below mind (which is the level of animals and plants), but in moving forward into the consciousness of being totally here in the Now.
The Inner Body
One method of becoming aware of your inner body is by going within and “feeling” your body from the inside. As an exercise, Tolle suggests you close your eyes and try to “feel” the life energy that pervades throughout your hands, legs, organs, arms, chest and so on. If you can’t feel very much at this stage, just pay attention to anything that you can feel. It might just be a slight tingling sensation in your hands and feet. These sensations will grow as you practice.
By directing your consciousness to your inner body, and maintaining that attention there while performing other activities (like reading this for example), you will be anchored in the Now. By doing this, you don’t get lost in your mind. Your thoughts and emotions will still be there, but the difference is, they won’t take over.
The Power of Now is the tenth of fifty-two books in Life Training – Online’s series 52 Personal Development Books in 52 Weeks.