Time isn't precious at all, because it is an illusion. What you perceive as precious is not time but the one point that is out of time: the Now. That is precious indeed. The more you are focused on time -- past and future -- the more you miss the Now, the most precious thing there is.
Why is it the most precious thing? Firstly, because it is the only thing. It's all there is. The eternal present is the space within which your whole life unfolds, the one factor that remains constant. LIFE IS NOW. There was never a time when your life was not now, nor will there ever be. Secondly, the Now is the only point that can take you beyond the limited confines of the mind. It is your only point of access into the timeless and formless realm of Being. (Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now)
This is the point in reading, when it all clicked for me. I felt a deep shift from within, mostly in my belly, as I finally understood. It is so simple. There is only Now. There is nothing else.
Our past is our past. It was once a Now, but is no longer, therefore, our past is an illusion. All the baggage we carry around is filled with our interpretation of the past. It controls us and keeps our true selves veiled. We act according to past events that we harbor and hold onto. But this is just our perception of some past event that we allow to shape us and tell us our limitations. It happened and is over with and most importantly, it is not Now. Therefore, can no longer have any hold on us unless we allow it.
Likewise our hopes (or fears) of the future control our Now too. Our hopes drive us in the Now, dictates how we spend our time. But the future is an illusion too, because it hasn't happened yet.
Therefore all we have is Now. Now is all that matters. We can use our Now time however we want and not let the past tell us we will not succeed, or whatever the past tells you in order to control you.
According to Tolle, there is clock time and psychological time. Psychological time uses all your past baggage and future hopes to drive your Now. It is the way 99.9% of us live. We don't fully live in the present because it is being fueld by illusory past and future. Clock time is used when you lively fully present in the now, but might need it in order to say, keep an appointment or work towards goals.
However, if you are working toward a goal and become obsessed with it, you have switched to psychological time because you are striving to make your goal only in order to achieve some future vision and not because of the Now.
I know. It is confusing.
But while I am trying to ponder and digest all of this, it raises the question about all this talk about positive thinking. The Secret and many other books say you need a mental image of your future in order to achieve it. You need to think positively about it and hold that thought in your mind and the feelings of having "it" as well. This kind of thinking is based on The Laws of Attraction. If you think positively and really feel it, then you will put out positive thoughts and therefore attract positive things to you.
But according to Tolle, doing this would mean you are not living in the present because it would mean you are obsessed with obtaining something in the future.
What I have taken from this is... I am no longer going to allow myself to be limited due to past baggage. In fact, I am going to open up that baggage and let my past go free (and all the moths that are in there too). I am going to pay attention when my mind roams and starts thinking either about the past, negative thoughts, the future, etc. I will know that my mind is just bored and entertaining itself with interesting thoughts. I will no longer give power to them by feeling the emotions that can usually accompany such thoughts because that is all they truly are; thoughts.
The past and future are illusions to entertain our minds.
So here's an exercise for you. Start to listen to your mind. When you are quiet, or just waking up, or just before going to bed, or in the shower, or driving in the car.... just listen to your thoughts. What are they about? Are they about the future, hopes and desires? Or are they an imagined disagreement with someone? Are they about a past experience? Don't judge the thought, just note it. Keep noting your thoughts. Are you stuck in the past or living in the future?
I have to say, I am pretty equal. I do all of the above. This morning the first thing I thought of when I hit the snooze button on my alarm was, "I'm never gonna finish that novel." I heard it as soon as I thought it (because I've been practising) and I was shocked! I wasn't even aware I still held onto these feelings. In fact, I have been feeling the total opposite (what, with my new and wonderful outline and goal setting...) I don't even know why this was my first thought of the day. Maybe because I had woken up late, hit snooze a couple times, and yet still felt tired and lazy. But I thought to myself, "What was that? Why did I just tell myself that? I haven't even gotten out of bed yet and I have already started my day by doubting myself!" I was amazed.
I wonder how many mornings I have woken up unaware of this negative chatter in my head? No wonder why I have been struggling!
After you've mastered the ability to listen to this inner chatter, then comes the hardest part... listening to that voice when you are in the throws of a heated argument. Every argument you have is either fueled by the past or ignited by the future. You get emotional and upset because the argument either triggers some feelings based on past events or it threatens your sense of the future. It is much harder to stay in the Now during those times.
So have you mastered living in the Now?