“Realise deeply that the present moment is all you have. Make the NOW the primary focus of your life.”
My first time reading this book was just a few months ago. I spent the few weeks afterwards captivated by its’ ideas and how it applied to every moment in my life.
I walked down the same road for the millionth time to reach home, and yet I noticed countless new things about my surroundings. Had I really never noticed that weird looking tree or that huge crack in the road despite living here for 16 years? It’s surprising how much you notice about the world around you when you’re not caught up in meaningless thoughts about the past or the future.
Eckhart Tolle describes in this masterpiece how every moment that you spend regretting the past, or worrying about the future, is a minute lost.
All of Life is simply a series of Present Moments
Think about it, anything that happened in the past occurred in the present moment just like anything that will happen in the future will also take place in the present moment.
Eckhart teaches that the reason we regret and worry so much is due to how our mind functions. The constant noise in our mind is predominantly to do with 2 things: the past and the future.
This applies to my life as much as the next person’s. If I have an assignment due in 2 weeks time, neither regretting the time I’ve wasted nor being anxious about the heavy workoad I’ve left myself with will help. However, what will help is seeing what can be done right now and getting started.
Consciousness is the Way Out of Pain
Eckhart argues in the Power of Now that the only personal pain we have comes from either identifying ourselves with the past, or a longing for the future. Essentially, he brings up the point that many of us have built up resistance to things we can not change.
We fret constantly about the past and the future, but all we have and will ever have is the present moment.
This also leads to Eckhart’s point about ego. Our ego’s feed on the past (who we think we are) and the future (who we want to be). The only way our ego can survive is if we allow it to by continually thinking about the past and future. If we were to be fully living in the present, we would be freed from the way we identify ourselves based on our problems and experiences (ego).
Free yourself by Observing your Mind and Refraining from Judging your Thoughts
One of Eckhart’s strategies described is to simply ask yourself regularly “What will my next thought be?”. This is based on the quantum zeno effect, sometimes stated as “a system can’t change while you are watching it”.
Ask yourself this question and you will be surprised at how long it takes for your next thought to pop in your mind. Personally, I’ve found that the more I ask myself this question, the longer my next thought is delayed. By even asking yourself this question, you bring yourself into the Now and are observing your mind.
Through this you can begin to understand just how much of your time is spent on autopilot, and slowly start detaching yourself from your mind and bring your attention into the present moment.
Another concept that I learnt from Eckhart’s book is to refrain from judging that voice in my head that says “I should’ve done this” or “I bet that will happen”. Rather than resisting these thoughts and fighting them, learn to simply accept them without judgement.
Notice the thoughts when they arise as if you are observing your own mind under a magnifying glass, but don’t label them or act upon them. In essence, you will be dropping your regrets and worries so you can actually focus on what’s happening right now.
The Power of Now is the sort of book that you might want to read multiple times. Each time you read it, you will undoubtedly gain a better understanding of the powerful concepts of mindfulness, presence and acceptance.
Your grasp of his ideas will strengthen each time you read them and if you’re anything like me, it will give you a fresh perspective on life and how to finally get rid of that damn voice in your head so you can actually live your life.
If you’ve read the book or have any questions/thoughts about it, feel free to leave a comment. I’d love to discuss it with you.