The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
The Power of Now is simply about being present. It is applicable to everything – sports, life, careers, relationships, the ego, and no matter who you are there is something in this book that will resonate. I think one of the most consistent quotes throughout history is some version of “The mind is everything. What you think you become.” – The Buddha. Or it is along the same lines of, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.” –Henry Ford. You can probably think of other similar sayings right now as you’re reading this. You get the point: Our mind is the most powerful thing we have. Eckhart Tolle’s book is incredible and very simple. It is written in a question and answer format, and the questions are well thought out, and Tolle is a master at talking about the Now. What he writes about is not a new concept by any means and is timeless in its importance.
“The mind is a superb instrument if used rightly… it is not so much that you use your mind wrongly – you usually don’t use it at all. It uses you. This is the disease. You believe you are your mind. This is the delusion.” – Tolle.
I love that quote because in so many situations in my life, I wish I had an “off switch.” I often feel, still with all this work and meditation I have put in, that my mind is in charge. What has been a hard concept for me to wrap my head around is that you are not your mind. Your mind, like your arms and your legs, are tools – for survival, for living, and we can choose to use these tools when we want– theoretically at least. I have attended many self-development courses and a question that regularly comes up is, “What makes you, you?” And this question isn’t meant in the cheesy sense like, oh I have a big heart; I love strawberry jam, etc. But if you were to strip away your legs, your hands, and most of your body, would you still be you? Tolle speaks to the identification with your mind and how we really think we are our minds. I have thought that for as long as I can remember, and I’ve read this book over and over and still have a hard time with it.
Enlightenment is a word often thrown around, and for so long I was like, “Ok so what does this actually mean?” Like a lot of words, I think the definition depends on the person interpreting it, but Tolle describes it as a oneness, similar to how a lot of sports psychologists describe being in the zone – where your mind is shut off, you trust all you have learnt, and you let your instinct and experience take charge. There is a great deal of peace in these moments. When I meditate and get into this state, I get this cheesy smile on my face and my heart feels full.
“Enlightenment is not only the end of suffering and of continuous conflict within and without, but also the dreadful enslavement to incessant thinking.”– Tolle. By now you realize this is a heavy blog. Hahah! That quote is much easier said than done. One of the biggest golden nuggets I got from this book is that our ego (when our mind is using us and we are not in charge – or we identify with our mind) is obsessed with the past and the future. Without both those things, the ego doesn’t exist. Think about it. Who are you in this moment, without your past accomplishments, your trophies, your degree, your money or whatever it is you brag about that you have done? Or what are the things you think you will do and accomplish in the future? Without all those things, who are you? Your ego thinks you are nothing, and oddly enough, if you are right here and now, in my opinion, you are everything and have limitless potential.
Being present is extremely challenging, but over time, I think it gets easier. I got scored on a few weeks ago (Yes, I know. Hard to believe haha) and I kept thinking of the goal over and over while the game was going on (my ego was hurt), and then I caught myself, brought my attention totally to my breath… literally breathing in, breathing out, feeling my chest rise and my lungs fill with air, and bam, I was back. I played a solid rest of the game, stayed focused and got back into the zone. I feel grateful because now I’m in a place where I am starting to use my mind more than it uses me. During training, I can bring attention to something I want to work on that day, and then I let my body take over. For example, I might think, “Today be on your front foot behind the back line.” Sometimes I will have to repeat the command a few times until it becomes a habit, and then my mind will have done its job, and it can peace out.
The coolest part of not identifying with your mind is realizing that sometimes a lot of weird thoughts come into your head, and if you don’t think you are your mind, you can just let them pass on through. If there are great thoughts, on the other hand, you can choose to keep them and give energy to those instead. The main point is you feel like you have a choice. If you consistently put energy into the thoughts you want to keep around, then you ultimately become them… (The Buddha was onto something;).
The nice part of being in the zone or being present is apparently this is when people are their most creative. Imagine that, your best thoughts come from when you are not thinking. I highly recommend this book. Maybe it can help you, like it’s helped me, to get out of your mind and more into your life.