08 Oct Experience the Present and Live with Freedom: The Power of Now
What are you thinking about right now? You might think the answer would be easy. You say, “well obviously I am thinking about this book review as I read it.” But when you address the question with a bit more depth and perhaps some added honesty, you very likely might realize that you’re really thinking about the 10 things you have to do before the end of the day, what you wish you didn’t say in that job interview last week, the fact that the stock market is plummeting, or perhaps something as simple as what to have for dinner tonight. It does not really matter what’s on your mind. My point is that your mind is rarely with what you’re doing in the present moment. And it’s those wandering thoughts that happen to be the root of most stress and anxiety.
I really hadn’t noticed much about my wandering thoughts, let alone their impact on my life, until I picked up The Power of Now. Eckhart Tolle turned the world on it’s head when he decided to write about the “now” a few years back. I don’t know how it took so long for me to discover it, but better late than never I guess. Within three days I had two separate people, whom I greatly respect, tell me this was the most influential book they’d read in years, if not ever. That’s all it takes to put it at the top of my list.
If you’ve done much meditation or yoga, you are most likely already familiar with the idea of being “present”. It seems like presence is the big buzz word these days. Despite having heard it over and over, the concept did not resonate until I picked up this book. Tolle calls it “the now”, others call it presence or meditation or consciousness, but once you read into it, you see that everyone is talking about the same thing.
This book had me thinking drastically differently from the first few pages. The only problem is that just about every sentence is so profound that it took me an extra week or two to really digest it. And I suspect it will take the rest of my life to fully apply it.
In his creative question and answer format Tolle conveys his core thesis of living in the now and its countless applications to our lives. Simply put, Tolle wants us to realize that life is about right now. Not about yesterday or last year or tomorrow. We cannot change things that have happened in the past and we cannot get into our future. We can only cope with what is going on right now. The now is all we can effect in this moment. Yet we spend the great majority of our lives thinking about everything that we cannot do anything about. Could get confusing don’t you think? With this lack of attention to present comes stress, fear and so much other negative energy that tends to drive our lives and emotions. A true master of the power of now has the ability to remove this energy completely. Maybe meditation does make sense afterall.
Think about your life for a minute. When was the last time you were stressed or felt anxious? Given today’s society, the odds are that you’re feeling that right now. So what’s the cause? You will realize that these negative feelings very rarely come from something occurring right this moment. Many of them come from unknown potential events in the future or regrets of the past. The root of all this negative energy comes from not being able to live in “the now”. If we could live life totally present and focused on this current moment in our lives, so many of these feelings would disappear.
I am sure you have all had moments where you’ve felt the benefits of being in the now. A lot of us have times of presence without knowing it. Such as when we are involved in a really extreme sport like sky diving or rock climbing (when lack of presence could cause some major injury) or doing what we love with people we love. Think back on those times. Remember feeling that unexplainable rush? How relaxed and at peace or genuinely happy or excited did you feel? Where was the stress or the dread? Those fade away in the power of the now.
From my brief experience I can tell you that being present feels incredible and opens limitless doors of possibility. Next time you are listening to your husband or wife, boyfriend or girlfriend, try intently focusing on the words they are saying and what they mean to them and to you. Push out anything else on your mind and just be there. (As a side note, “just being there” tends to go over very well in a relationship) They will feel it and I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the response. So is the case with anything in your life whether it’s with others or with yourself. Give it your full attention and the rewards will be grand.
Unfortunately, for most of our lives, we have been trained to be anything but present. Worst of all, we have been taught this to be a good thing and the way to be “productive”. In an age where multitasking and thinking about ten things at once is encouraged and almost forced, it is hard to completely clear your head and be present. Just like anything, it takes work. Unfortunately, it seems so rare these days that anyone wants to spend time on something so inwardly beneficial as harnessing the power of now. So many of us are disciplined to go to the gym and work on our physical, outward body, yet that discipline is totally lost when it comes to internal growth and improvement.
My guess, and hope, is that you readers are the few who see it differently. I don’t think you’d be here if it wasn’t the case. But if you haven’t already, I encourage you to make that committment to internal growth and improvement, not for the sake of what others percieve of you, but for how it will make you feel. I made that vow years ago and the rewards continue to blow my mind. The Power of Now will put you deep into the heart of one of the most valuable internal journeys. I have a feeling that once you realize how magical it feels to truly be in the now (as difficult as it is at first), you will be changed. It is a lifelong endeavor, but when is Now a good time to start?
-Reading for Your Success
“You can always cope with the present moment, but you cannot cope with something that is only a mind projection–you cannot cope with the future.”
“Are you carrying in your mind the insane burden of a hundred things that you will or may have to do in the future instead of focusing your attention on the one thing that you can do now?”
“Give your fullest attention to whatever the moment presents.”
“Stress is caused by being “here” but wanting to be “there,” orbeing in the present but wanting to be in the future.”
“Forgiveness of the present is even more important than forgiveness of the past. If you forgive every moment–allow it to be as it is–then there will be no accumulation of reentment that needs to be forgiven at some later time.”