Who is reading Eckhard Tolle’s The Power Of Now along with us? This is one of those books that is so full of wisdom that you could underline almost every sentence and dog-ear every page. Just in the first chapter, I repeatedly found myself thinking “oh my gosh, that is exactly like me” or “wow, I never thought of it that way.” For today, I wanted to share some thoughts and quotes from the first chapter that really spoke to me.
The first chapter of the book deals with the greatest obstacle to enlightenment: the mind. Do you ever feel like there are a million voices inside your head, having different conversations, worrying about things in the past, or things that haven’t happened yet? This is the story of my life. I’ve mentioned it here on the blog before but I’m a very anxious person…it’s something I’ve struggled with for years, and still struggle with. I can never seem to shut off my mind, and more often than not the voices inside it are constantly worrying about what’s next. This is a very common phenomenon. This is the mind, and what this first chapter strives to tell us is that we are not our mind.
Upon reading this my immediate thought was: YES! But how do you turn off your mind? Luckily, he addresses this too. You must learn to use the mind, not let the mind use you. “The moment you start watching the thinker, a higher level of consciousness becomes activated.” What he means by this, is when you hear those voices in your head, listen to them. “Watch” your mind as it thinks, thereby separating yourself from it. You are witnessing the thought, but the thought is not you. When you use your mind in this way you experience what Tolle calls “a gap of no-mind.” This is what it feels like to be fully present.
There’s another way that Tolle says you can overcome the incessant noise, and that is by focusing all of your attention on the present moment. I really loved one of his examples: “When you get in your car, after you close the door, pause for a few seconds and observe the flow of your breath. Become aware of a silent but powerful sense of presence. ” Imagine when you finish work for the day and get in your car (or whatever your mode of transportation is). What are you thinking about in that moment? I’m either thinking about something that happened at work that day, or my plans for that night – what I’m going to eat for dinner, whether I’m staying home or at my boyfriend’s, do I need to pick anything up on my way…etc. This week I am trying to do as Tolle says and instead, stop for a moment, and think about nothing but the air around me and the breath in my lungs. But the point is to not just do this in one moment, to do this in as many moments as you can, all day every day. When you need to use your mind, you will. But when you don’t, let it rest.
“The single most vital step on your journey is this: Learn to disidentify from your mind.” But what about emotions, aren’t those thoughts too? Tolle also discusses emotion in the first chapter, and states that “Emotion arises at the place where mind and body meet.” This explains why often times when we feel an emotion, we do just that – we feel it, physically. They can manifest themselves in a smile, tears, and in some cases (as I have experience with), panic attacks. While you can’t shut them off, you can approach them in the same way as thoughts. Witness these emotions but acknowledge that they do not identify you. They are your body’s reaction to the thoughts that you have the power to control. This does not apply to feelings of joy and love, which are deep states of being.
THIS was one of those “ahhh” moments for me…I never thought of it that way but it makes so much sense!
Those of you who are reading along or who have read this book, what are your thoughts on chapter one? I would love to hear!
All quotes by Eckhart Tolle from The Power Of Now.