In Eckhart Tolle's seminal book, The Power of Now, he identifies the greatest obstacle to experiencing enlightenment as being that of "identification with your mind, which causes thought to become compulsive" - this compulsive thinking is what creates the barriers to experiencing our natural state of inner peace and connection with God as well as creating a false egoic sense of self that seems to live in a state of fear and suffering. The solution he offers to free ourselves from the compulsive thoughts of mind is, of course, practicing the power of now.
But what exactly is the power of now? According to A Course in Miracles "Fear is not of the present, but only of the past and future, which do not exist.... And the present extends forever. It is so beautiful and so clean and free of guilt that nothing but happiness is there. No darkness is remembered, and immortality and joy are NOW." (Emphasis is mine.) So, this power of the present instant, now, is the release from fear which allows us to access our own conscious, higher presence. It is the release from identification with our mind; our past conditioning and self-concepts, beliefs, limitations, judgements and guilt - our sense of self as being small, separate and vulnerable. It's freedom from the delusional belief that you are your mind. And freedom from creating the future in the mold of the past.
Mr. Tolle states that learning to dis-identify from mind as the single most vital step in the journey toward enlightenment. It is the process of changing our perception about ourselves, our relations to others, to God and to life itself; it is liberating ourselves from the tyranny of addictive, destructive thinking and all of the ensuing effects and emotional turmoil that leave us in a state of perpetual conflict and personal grief.
Practicing the power of now is the systematic removal of self-imposed blocks to knowing and experiencing our deeper truth that we are spiritual beings on a physical plane and, as such, is a powerful tool for consistently living a life of joy, significance and fulfillment. The practices offered in his book are drawn from a variety of spiritual teachings giving us a buffet of strategies that can be suitably tailored to meet individual needs, and all are flexible enough to be adapted to serve the demands of a busy lifestyle.
Following are five simple strategies to maximize your efforts when applying the processes outlined in the Power of Now:
- when "watching the thinker" it is crucial to remain detached from the thoughts that you're watching. Becoming engaged in judging your thoughts, analyzing them, labeling them or trying to change them while observing is simply another antic of the ego mind to move you out of the present moment. Being there as the observer is enough to loosen the mental grip of identifying with the thinker and will begin to create space for Presence.
- many find practicing "present moment awareness" difficult in the beginning; if you find agitation arising, try placing your focus on following your breath. Make no attempt to regulate or change your breathing, simply note all of the sensations as they come into your field of awareness... the feel of the air going in and out of your nostrils, the movement of your chest and abdomen, the fragrance in the air, the depth or shallowness of your breath, etc.
- "feeling your emotions" from within the inner energy field of your body can be quite a challenge as we're trained from an early age that certain feelings, such as anger, doubt, weakness or confusion are "bad"; and we develop beliefs that having these feelings then makes us personally "bad". Allow yourself to become conscious of the tendency to bolt, or run away, from feeling these emotions - instead of bolting, try giving these emotions some space and attention. Acknowledge them, allow them to be and recognize that you are more than the sum of your emotions and thoughts, negative or positive.
- "acceptance" of the present moment is a key to dissolving resistance, but not always an easy task. If you find your mind dictating how things "should" be, realize that your acceptance does not mean they have to stay this way - accepting and allowing the present moment to be as it is will free up tremendous energy to give to inspired actions on making the necessary changes to improve your situation.
- "dissolving the pain body" is another practice that can raise the specter of fear in our minds. When observing the pain body at work, ask yourself what the purpose is of engaging in this painful mental activity; initially, your egoic mind may come up with surface reasons such as "I'm right, they're wrong" or "I/they deserve it" but if you persist in questioning its purpose and take your attention deeper, you'll recognize the only purpose is to create more pain for yourself. At this point, you've broken your identification with the pain body and can now release your attachment to it. Asking empowering questions about what we believe and why we believe certain thoughts about our identity will lead to the recognition that most of our limiting beliefs are assumptions we've adopted from our parents, school and society and have nothing to do with who you are in Truth - when you let go of these restrictive assumed beliefs, life begins to flow and grow in ways miraculous!
In practicing the power of now, as with learning any new skill, daily application and persistence are attributes that will help push you through the challenges of reconditioning your thought processes - do whatever it takes to get over the hump because each and every one of us is worth the consistent effort necessary for effective change, both personally and for the greater good of all.