The Power of Now is a book that I have owned for many years and to be honest picked up a few times and struggled to get through the first chapter. When I saw it on the list of books to chose from for my book review for my Level 2 Teacher Training I decided this was going to be it, I would finally read this book. This book that so many have acclaimed “transformational” or Deepak Chopra calling it “one of the best books to come along in years.”
Having finished the book and reflecting I realise I wasn’t ready when I tried to read it before. Perhaps I hadn’t had enough suffering. I have so much gratitude for my yoga journey, for my personal spiritual journey and self discovery.
This time as I read words by Eckhart Tolle it was like I was saying ‘yes.. yes… yes!!’ all the time and my pen was madly underlining.
The introduction had me this time. He describes his early years as ‘state of almost continuous anxiety’ ‘continuous struggle’ I have always been someone who has struggled with anxiety. I was an anxious child, never wanted to leave my mother. I was an anxious teenager worried about everything at school, perhaps not being good enough or only good enough if I was a straight A student. I seemed to settle a little in my 20’s and then it seemed to come back in last 5 years with more force. My anxiety at times was debilitating and consumed my day. Sometimes no technique or breathing worked. Eckhart Tolle describes his spiritual awakening and says “more fundamental, perhaps, than any experience is the undercurrent of peace that has never left me since then.” This undercurrent of peace…. this was my search. I wanted to read more, I wanted to learn. I want that!
It gave me great settling when he stated “You have it already. You just can’t feel it because your mind is making too much noise” I can so relate.
Firstly to know the Truth within me I have to identify the false. He explains that unless I recognise the false as false there will be no lasting transformation and I will be drawn back into the illusion and into some form of pain. This was my life. I wrote in the margin (ME 10/8/16), this was me. I was still struggling with a painful divorce, deep pain around rejection and my worth. How did I identify the false? How did I start to feel the undercurrent of peace? I believe that there were moments of peace, moments of connection with the divine within, moments of being in the breath. However, I was still very much more in pain and triggered by others energy.
The tears started to flow when I read “I cannot tell you any spiritual truth that deep within you don’t already know. All I can do was remind you of what you have forgotten.” That alone brings me some peace.
One of the first powerful realisations from Eckhart Tolle is that you are not your mind. You are not ‘the thinker’. The higher consciousness and freedom comes from ‘watching the thinker’. The separation of you and the thought. So you become aware of the thought and also of you witnessing the thought. The thought goes and there will be a ‘gap of no mind’. These gaps may only be a few seconds but will get longer. In the gap is the peace and stillness we all crave. The deeper I go into my yoga and meditation practice, the crazier I thought I was. The constant conversations I have in my head sometimes 5 at once. I don’t believe I am alone. I love how Eckhart Tolle explains that you can also create this gap in the mind stream by directing your attention into THE NOW. Become conscious right now. Be totally present. He states ‘The present moment holds the key to liberation. But you cannot find the present moment as long as you are your mind.”
With thoughts come sometimes emotions. This is the body reaction to the mind or a reflection of the mind in the body. ‘an emotion usually represents an amplified and energized thought pattern’. The cycle continues as the thought pattern creates a magnified reflection of itself as emotion and the frequency of the emotion keeps feeding the thought pattern. This pain or emotional is inevitable as long as you identify with your mind or are unconscious.
Eckhardt Tolle explains very early on in the book that the great part of human pain is unnecessary. It is self created as long as the unobserved mind runs your life. The intensity of the pain depends on the resistance to the present moment… NOW!
His explanation about the pain-body made so much sense. In summary we have all had emotional pain in our lives, childhood, unconscious etc. This pain leaves a residue in our mind body which creates a negative energy field. This is called the Emotional Pain-body that is either dormant or active in us. This pain-body wants to survive like any other entity and needs to get ‘food’ from you. It will feed on any experience that resonates with the same energy. We need to watch for the pain-body being activated from the dormant state. ‘Pain can only feed on pain. Pain cannot feed on joy. It finds it quite indigestible.’
The pain-body is afraid of the light of your consciousness, it is afraid of being found out. The moment you observe it and see it for what it is, the identification is broken. A higher consciousness has come in called THE PRESENCE. You can not fight the pain-body just watching is enough. Watching it implies accepting it as part of what is at the moment.
Eckhart Tolle summaries:
- Focus attention on the feeling inside you
- Know it is the pain-body
- Accept it is there
- Don’t think about it – don’t turn feeling into thinking
- Don’t judge or analyze
- Don’t make an identity for yourself out of it
- Stay present and continue to observe what is happening inside you
- Become aware not only of the emotional pain but also of “the one who observes” the silent watcher.
“This is the POWER of NOW. Your own conscious presence. Then see what happens.”
I have definitely experienced many times in my life when the pain feeds the pain. The thoughts create an emotion which keeps feeding the thought pattern. Where you become the victim. This cycle is hard to break. I have felt the power of the present moment… just now, just this moment. My yoga teacher in a yoga therapy session would often ground me and use the term “come into your body and step back” it resonated with me. So become much like the silent watcher, step into your body but then step back and observe and notice. Don’t judge or analyze what you observe. Watch the thought, feel the emotion and observe the reaction.
Further in the book I could very much identity with ‘the anxiety gap’. You are in the here and now while your mind is in the future. This creates the anxiety gap. If you have identified with your mind and have lost touch with the power of the Now the anxiety gap will be your constant companion. This was me! He further states as long as you identify with your mind, the ego runs your life.
In a recent yoga therapy session my therapist posed a question “How does anxiety serve you?” My first response was it doesn’t. I don’t like it. She said that on some level vibrationally it would be serving me……. really? I pondered this and journaled and I realised anxiety has been serving me and not even consciously. As a child when I was anxious I got more attention from my mother. Now as an adult when I am anxious I either reach out for validation from friends or family or withdraw. Either behaviour stops me from going deeper and handing it over to my higher self and having faith in divinity.
I have described my anxiety as being unsettled, being homesick, missing myself, disconnect from self or being whole. Eckhardt Tolle describes part of the emotional pain and part of ego mind is deep seated lack of being whole or being incomplete. I have felt this. If it is conscious it manifests as unsettling and constant feeling of not being worthy or good enough. This is the ego mind running my life and the only way to break this cycle is to move deeply into the NOW.
I love the answer he gives to the question Why is it the most precious thing? His answer is this ‘because it is the ONLY thing. It is all there is. The eternal present is the space within which your whole life unfolds, the one factor that remains constant. Life is NOW.’
It is easy words to say just live in the NOW. Eckhart Tolle writes that if you find it hard to enter the NOW start by observing that habitual tendency of your mind to want to escape from the Now. Automatically this self observation brings more presence. The moment you realize you are not present you are present.
He describes the difference between life and life situation. We all have life situations, past and future where perhaps the past didn’t go the way you wanted it to go. So what is the difference with life and life situations. Your life situation exists in TIME and your life is NOW. Your life situation is MIND stuff and your life is REAL.
I often say this in my yoga classes, we all have life situations which may be full of problems, most life situations are. But do you have any problem at this moment? Not tomorrow or in 10 mins, but now? He says so whenever you can, make some room, create some space, so that you find the life underneath the life situation.
Focus your attention on the NOW and tell me what problem you have at this moment. HE says I am not getting any answer because it is impossible to have a problem when your attention is fully in the NOW. He says there may be a situation that needs to be dealt with or accepted – Yes. Why make it into a problem?
A statement I underlined that I loved…. When you create a problem you create pain!
A good mantra “I will create no more pain for myself. I will create no more problems.”
This choice will not be made until we have had enough suffering and unless we access the power of NOW.
He discusses further the statement – wherever you are, be there totally.
If you find your here and now intolerable and it makes you unhappy. You have three options:
- Remove yourself from the situation
- Change it
- Accept it totally
If you want to take responsibility for you life, you must choose one of these three options and you must choose now. Then accept the consequences, no excuses, no negativity.
He further poses the question – does the past take up a great deal of your attention? At the time of reading this part of the book ( nearly 4 years ago ) it was a resounding YES. I was living in the past, wallowing in self pity and resentment. The following advice was loud and clear.
“Die to the past every moment. You don’t need it. Only refer to it when it is absolutely relevant to the present.”
“The past cannot survive in your presence. It can only survive in your absence.”
So much of what Eckhart Tolle writes about is connected to a yoga practice and can enhance your practice. He talks about connecting with the inner body. Is this not what we try and teach on our mats. He says to become conscious of Being you need to reclaim consciousness from the mind. This is essential on the spiritual journey. How? Focus attention away from thinking and into the body… Feeling! Feel it from within! The more consciousness you direct into the inner body, the higher is the vibrational frequency becomes. With this higher frequency, negativity cannot affect you anymore and you tend to attract new circumstances that reflect this higher frequency.
So in summary keep your attention in the body as much as possible and you will be anchored in the NOW. Thoughts. emotions, fears etc may still be there but they wont take you over. For me this is why my practice is so important and sacred. My practice brings me into the body and the now.
Eckhart Tolle also suggests that when you become more present and focus on inner body and presence becomes your normal mode of consciousness, you can slow down the aging process as you don’t accumulate time in your psyche or in your cells. You can also strengthen the immune system. He says ‘the body loves your attention. It is a potent form of self healing.” That is brilliant!!!
One of my favorite quotes in the book is:
“If the master is not present in the house, all kinds of shady characters will take up residences there. When you inhabit your body it will be hard for any unwanted guests to enter.”
Inhabiting the body protects you by raising the frequency vibration of your total energy field so that anything that vibrates at a lower frequency like depression, fear , anger etc doesn’t enter your field of consciousness anymore or if it does it merely passes straight through you.
In summary the one thing I seek is peace, not happiness. I realise they are different. I am so grateful for this book and the wisdom of Eckhardt Tolle and the rewards that can come from living in the NOW. Finding the human power as we surrender to the Now, realising that there is no life problems that exist in the now only inner peace. Thank you Eckhard Tolle.