Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Power of Now

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?


PJ Hoover said...

Yes, I have it now! I'm ready to read it!

Sheri said...

I accidentally posted the picture without my comments...

PJ Hoover said...

It certainly is different. I totally get the not holding on to baggage from the past, but as for the goals in the future, yeah, I'll just have to read it and see.
My husband mentioned how it did kind of clash with the whole Law of attraction, work toward future goals thing.
Great post - especially with the words!

Parabolist said...

I've not mastered living in the NOW, but I am trying. I recently finished Tolle's "A New Earth: Awakening to your Life's Purpose". He takes what he began to say with "The Power of Now" and goes a couple steps further.

A lot of his ideas made me think, "Yeah, I already knew that!" The unspoken response is always: Why don't you do it the 'right' way, then?

Scott said...

I need a huge dose of the power of now. I think about wanting to get started with a novel, then I see a preview for a movie that has a similar plot and get discouraged, or I don't have the confidence that my imagination will supply the details I'm missing.

I have to read this book!

Sheri said...

PJ - yeah the words give it some meaning behind the picture of the book, right? Hahaha...

It does really clash with the secret. I can relate it to teaching trends... they come and they go, but as long as you incorporated a little of each into your classroom, you had a well-rounded environment. I suppose the same can be true here too. As long you make goals towards your future, but don't get stuck living in the future, you will be just fine... Oh and thanks for coming back PJ and reading the post when there were actual words. Ahhh, computers. (Actually this glitch was all me pressing wrong buttons at wrong times)

Sheri said...

Para - I tried to read The New Earth first, but I guess I wasn't in the right frame of mind. So I decided to put it down and begin with the first one Now. I am grasping The Power of Now more. But all these books always lead to more questions for me.

Scott - There is no such thing as an original idea, just varying shades of grey, so just go with it. A screenplay I wrote once kept getting the same comment over and over - it reminds me of Toy Story... even though my idea was completely different as soon as you had talking toys that's all people thought about. It discouraged me and I never finished it. however my idea still haunts me which means to me, it was different enough, and eventually I will come back to it. So, never get discouraged if an idea seems to be like yours. you will put your unique spin on it and besides, by the time yours gets published whatever is out now, will be old and forgotten about! :)

The Anti-Wife said...

I spent years studying the Course in Miracles. It's the same basic philosphy. The Course says we either come from love or fear and that everything that isn't love is a call for love.

The present is all that really matters, so living in the past or obsessing over the future is just another manifestation of fear. Identifying what we fear - from our past or about our future - helps us move past it and come back to the present.

Sheri said...

That's interesting anti. I think I fear loosing everything... I want success as being a children's novelist, so I guess the opposite of that is my fear - which would mean I fear failure, or not making it as a writer.

And we all come from love or fear? So, if I came from love, does that mean that I would be able to easily live in the present?

JR's Thumbprints said...

I'm surrounded by negativity 40 hours a week. I'd rather take a more scientific approach to "The Power of Now." Let's examine the dimensions:

The 1st dimension is linear, it measures distances, inches, feet, ...

The 2nd dimension is area, it measures in square inches, square feet ...

The 3rd dimension is volume, it measures in cubes, cubic inches, cubic feet ...

And lastly, the 4th dimension is time. What does it measure? Oh sure you could give me hours, minutes, seconds, the now ... but what does it measure?

Time measures particles moving through space. That what we are, particles. Without movement, we get nowhere. Just another "something" to ponder.

Sheri said...

Ahhhh! My head JR! It's throbbing now!

“Personal limitation exists only in our ideas of who we are. Give up all notions of who you are and your limitations will vanish.”

- Anonymous