The Power of Now – Living Fully In The Present Moment
The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle is one of my favourite companion books – it’s just a great little ‘bible’ which I can pick up at any time and read a few lines. Eckhart Tolle’s message is simple: living in the present moment (‘the now’) is the truest path to happiness and enlightenment. Tolle’s message may not seem terribly new or original, but his clear writing, and ability to explain complicated concepts in concrete language make this an indispensable book for your resource library.
What does it mean to live fully in the present moment? It simply means that your awareness is completely centered on the here and now. You are not fretting about the future or thinking about the past. When you live in the present, you are living exactly where life is happening. The past and future don’t really exist, they are illusions. Tomorrow is only a concept – if you think about it, tomorrow never comes, it is always today.
“The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.” – Buddha
One of the greatest obstacles to living fully in the present moment is compulsive thinking. Tolle writes that the mind is a superb instrument if used rightly. Used wrongly, however, it becomes very destructive. To put it more accurately, it is not so much that you use your mind wrongly – you usually don’t use it at all. It uses you.
Identification with your mind creates an opaque screen of concepts, labels, images, words, judgments and definitions that entirely block your relationship with your true self. It is this screen of thought that creates the illusion that you are your mind. This ends up causing thought to become compulsive.
Not to be able to stop thinking is a dreadful affliction, but we don’t realise this because almost everybody is suffering from it. So it is considered normal. This incessant mental noise prevents you from finding that realm of inner stillness and casts a shadow of fear and suffering.
The beginning of real freedom is the realisation that you are not your mind or as it is commonly called, “the thinker”. Knowing this enables you to observe the thinker – in other words to watch and be aware of what you are thinking and saying to yourself. The moment you start “watching the thinker” you are accessing a higher level of consciousness and well on the way to living fully in the present moment.
Freeing Yourself From Your Mind
The good news is that you can free yourself from your mind and start living in the present moment. This is the only true liberation. And you can take the first step right now. Here are three important steps that Tolle outlines in his “Practicing The Power of Now” companion book.
Start listening to the voice in your head as often as you can:
Pay particular attention to any repetitive thought patterns, those old audio tapes that have been playing in your head for year. This is what he means by “watching the thinker” – listening to the voice in your head and be a witnessing presence. Make sure you listen to that voice impartially – do not judge or condemn what you hear, for doing so would mean that the same voice has come in again through the back door.
Start accessing the state of ‘no-mind’:
Become conscious of your deeper self as you ‘watch the thinker’. As you listen to your thoughts, you will begin to feel a conscious presence (your deeper self) behind or underneath the thought. The thought will then lose its power over you and quickly subside. This is the beginning of the end of involuntary and compulsive thinking. When you first start practising “watching the thinker” you will start having very tiny gaps of ‘no-mind‘. When these gaps occur, you feel a certain stillness and peace inside you. With more practice, you will gradually experience longer and deeper periods of stillness and peace.
Practicing in your everyday life:
You can practice this by taking any routine activity that normally is only a means to an end and giving it your fullest attention, so that it becomes an end in itself. For example, every time you walk up and down the stairs in your house or place of work, pay close attention to every step, every movement, even your breathing. Be totally present
Or when you wash your hands, pay attention to all the sense perceptions associated with the activity – the sound and feel of the water, the movement of your hands, the scent of the soap and so on.
There is one certain criterion by which you can measure your success in this practice: the degree of peace that you feel within.
The single most vital step on your journey toward peace and happiness is this: Learn to disidentify from your mind. Every time you create a gap in the stream of mind, your peace and stillness within grows deeper. One day you may catch yourself smiling at the voice in your head, as you would smile at the antics of a child. This means that you no longer take the content of your mind all that seriously, as your sense of self does not depend on it.
Yes, the power is definitely in the now! Eckhart Tolle’s book is full of practical and profound teachings. Through simple techniques he shows how to quiet your thoughts, live fully in the present moment and find the truest path to happiness.