I love spirituality and religion and all of the things beyond mere visibility. So when I stumbled upon Eckhart Tolle, my mind was slightly blown.
Maybe I’ve been living under a rock, but I had never heard of this guy before now. He is a best-selling author. The most famous spiritual teacher today (I mean, beyond religious leaders like the Dalai Lama and Pope Francis). Oprah raves about him. And I can see why.
I have not read any of his books, but I just found some conversations he’s had with Oprah on her Soul Sunday radio program. The way he talks alone is so…peaceful. He has an aura about him that is so zenned out, you wonder what the heck his secret is. And apparently he spent years suffering from depression, so for someone who struggles to get out of bed most mornings, whatever he’s doing, I’m interested.
It’s not like I haven’t heard a form of his main message before. Essentially, he promotes the importance of staying present. We often get so lost in our thoughts, dragging us back to past or forward to the unknown of the future, that we feel so much more than we need to. We over-complicate our lives from identifying with and believing these racing thoughts. We don’t listen to each other as we think about what to say next. Really, we either rush through life or dwell in moments already past that we forget to truly live.
We have two separate forces within us competing for our attention. We have our current presence, just living life in this very second. Then we have the “ego,” the thoughts, the figurative person we create in our head. Please refer to Tolle for an understandable definition because I will not do it justice. Basically, to see the difference, think of a mundane task that we maybe find annoying or boring, like doing the dishes. Why do you feel like it’s annoying or boring? There isn’t anything necessarily bad about the task. But we take the thoughts we conjure up and identify with them and feel them.
If you haven’t already, I highly recommend you take a peek at Tolle on YouTube or wherever else. Listen to what he has to say with an open mind. Compared to how we typically live, it can feel very foreign to think otherwise, but I truly think we would all benefit from a change. For me, I constantly feel like I’m just going through the motions of a class schedule without really being mentally there. I easily lose motivation because beyond listening to a lecture, I wonder, “What is the point?” Such a monotonous cycle, especially one with lots of free time I don’t know how to utilize, drags me down. Not to mention the constant snow last week.
Does he realize that his advice is much easier said than done? While I’m so inspired by his tranquility, I don’t see myself getting to his level. I don’t think anybody can. But I do think that small moments throughout the day can make a huge difference.
So how we can we be more present? In therapy terms, I call these moments “grounding techniques.” For me, I dissociate a lot (if you ever have times your eyes lose focus on anything and you feel like you’re not really thinking, that’s what I mean), so remembering that I am in a present moment, alive and breathing, can be very helpful. This can be as simple as taking a task like showering or brushing your teeth and actually noticing your senses during the experience. The textures, sights, smells, feelings, tastes, sounds, everything.
Another great form of remembering your presence is meditation, a practice that isn’t as intimidating it sounds. Take a moment, even a couple of minutes, close your eyes, get in a comfortable position, and just go through your body. Focus on every individual part and how it feels at this current moment, toes up to your head. Feel yourself inhale and exhale. Finally opening your eyes is like a reintroduction into a brand new world. Okay, maybe that is a little dramatic, but whenever I do it, I feel rejuvenated. I do wish I remembered to meditate more often, but you don’t even have to sit and do it. You can always do a walking meditation (with your eyes open…please) and really “meditate” wherever you are. It is just a fancy term for grounding yourself in the present moment.
Tolle says that time is again, a structure created from thought. All we have is right now, the present moment. Whatever has past and whatever is to come has no true control over the present. We have the freedom, is this very moment, to choose how we react, which is very empowering. We don’t have to feel so tied up in possibilities and worries. Again, easier said than done (I’m talking to you, anxiety) but the reality is, when I talk about depression or anxiety, they are not me. They do not have to define me or everyday life if I refuse to let them do so. I mean, I’d say that’s an ultimate goal for myself to live a truly free life, but it takes work and is a constant battle.
When we think about heaven, we envision a future paradise in the sky. In reality, there is a heaven within ourselves, on earth. Past the fog of overthinking, there is nothing but stillness. We can create our own paradise within ourselves. What a wonderful way to describe the present moment as a gift.
Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie