And so to The Now

Or rather “The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle:
I often feel distanced from reality. I’m on the bus but my head is still at work. I’m out with friends but I’m thinking about a different night. I’m in my room but I’m in an imaginary conversation. This is very bad according to Tolle.
Thinking about the future, reliving the past or getting lost in an emotion is what Tolle describes as being ‘unconscious’. He suggests we’re only really ‘conscious’ when we are immersed in what we’re doing and living in the now. And he gives a whole load of reasons as to why this is so important, mostly revolving around the idea that we are only really ‘ourselves’ when we’re present in the now. This, he says, is the only way to happiness. (Reminds me of the bit in I heart Huckabees’ when they’re repeating ‘how am I not myself, how am I not myself’).

While I’m not sure I’d go along with some of the more extreme suggestions in the book, (PMS as an expression of historic female suppression, modern art as void of meaning), the book is a goldmine for finding ways to cope with stress, relax and feel more connected. For this reason, I’ve relished it. For anyone who feels like self help books are one step too far for bed time reading, I’ve taken a few key bite size pieces of advice which are worth thinking about even if you don’t agree with them. (Mr Tolle, I hope this doesn’t count as plagarism – really it is just a big advert for your awesome text). So in ‘top tips’ format here’s some advice from the Tolle:

Forget about the past: “The truth is that the only power there is is contained within this moment. It is the power of your presence.”
Live in the Now: “As you go about your life, don’t give 100% of your attention to the external world and to your mind. Keep some within.”
“Take routine activities and give them your fullest attention so you are totally present in them.”
Don’t worry about the future: “Don’t see the present as a means to an end.”
“Do not have illusory expectations that anything or anyone in the future will save you or make you happy.”
Escape your mind: “Don’t take the content of your mind too seriously, as your sense of self does not depend on this.”
Coping with challenges: “Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it, then take action if necessary or possible.”
Being creative: “Do not be concerned with the fruit of your action: just give attention to the action itself. The fruit will come of its own accord.”
“Focus your attention on your inner energy and stop thinking. When you resume thinking it will be fresh and creative.”
Interacting with others: “When listening to another person, don’t just listen with your mind, listen with your whole body.”
“Surrender – inner resistance cuts you off from other people from yourself, from the world around you.”

That barely skims the surface of what he’s on about but hopefully it gives a rough idea of his attitude to life and his teaching. Incidentally, trying to ‘stop thinking’ is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done! It is a nice feeling though, even when it only lasts a second or two. And giving up waiting is also a handy tip – makes the commute more bearable because you kind of accept that’s what you’re doing at that second, rather than thinking about where you’ve got to get to or what’s going to happen when you get there.
Even if I’m not convincing you, I’d really recommend giving this book a chance. It’s powerful stuff.
Right, I’m off to make some green tea and do some yoga…

February 14, 2010. Tags: , . books.

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