Going to Norway I had an open mind and no expectation because as a fan of Eckhart Tolle for many years, I wanted to avoid feeling disappointed if a life changing experience didn’t manifest.
Arriving at Oslo airport, I was immediately stuck by the familiarity because it felt very much like arriving at any English airport. The train ride of two hours to Oslofjord Convention Centre was uneventful as I sat sipping my coffee and enjoying the Norwegian countryside. It was here that the familiarity ended with most, if not all of the houses being wooden, looking like small barns and painted red. The countryside was very green and lush with miles and miles of trees which made it feel very Scandinavian indeed.
When I arrived, I checked in, had dinner and took my seat for the first of Eckhart’s talks. I felt nervously excited at the prospect of seeing him in the flesh and as he emerged from the corner of the stage I was spellbound. There was no grand entrance, he quietly made his way to a chair in the centre of the stage and sat down. The large room which held about nine hundred people was deadly silent and he just sat and looked around, his blue eyes taking it all in. He was also completely silence for at least five minutes and then he began to speak and oh what a beautiful sound it was.
Being hearing impaired meant I had a front row seat, beside the centre walkway so I was sitting about ten feet from him and could feel his energy permeating towards me. He welcomed us in a quiet voice and commented on the stillness of the room which impressed him. He then talked about the essence of consciousness, how the present moment is all we ever have and even when we project our lives into the future, which most of us do, the event, situation, or whatever it is that we are focused on, will happen in the present moment at that time. He asked us to minimise our dependance on electronic devices for the weekend and to practice just ‘being’ as much as possible.
There were people from sixty six countries, some as far as America and China and all on their own personal journey. Many had suffered deep emotional pain that had woken them up and had travelled far and wide just to see him. As the weekend progressed and we listened to him for two hours twice a day, we all fell completely in love with him, with his message of consciousness, his humility, his compassion and surprisingly his humour. He found the idea of his fame hilarious and constantly made fun of the fact.
He impressed upon us the importance of consciousness to counteract the current insanity we’re witnessing in the world and thought those of us already awake responsible for being the light to others. He talked about suffering and how we suffer unnecessarily and only when we consciously decided that we don’t want to suffer will our suffering end. This is achieved through being aware of the present moment, having gratitude in our lives and of course love, in all it’s forms.
I was lucky enough to ask him a question. From nearly 900 people, only 7 or 8 were picked so I felt very blessed to be interacting with him. I was so nervous as I approached the mic because my legs were shaking but I pulled myself together and said hello to him. I explained how I’d recently discovered myself a control freak, a manipulating one who (in a covert way) could influence the result of certain situations in my life. I told him I’d always thought myself easy going so this realisation had come as a surprise to me.
I explained that surrender and allowing the universe to guide me in the future was something I was consciously doing, but my question to him was this:
‘How can I let go of control in the areas of my life that require my daily attention. Raising my children, interacting with friends and family, my ex husband, my work and so on?’
I wanted to know how to interact without being so bossy and impatient in certain situations, particularly with my kids. He thought the reference to raising children a very important one and immediately my ego swelled with my sense of importance. I felt like I’d been invited to the front of class to receive my gold star.
His answer was to find the middle part. Whilst control was important, particularly in raising children and their need for boundaries, even more important was the reason for that control. Was it for the good of the situation or was it because my ego needed to be right and to get it’s own way. He asked me to think on that the next time I found myself trying to control. He went on to talk about his own experience of being over protected as a child which wasn’t a good memory and impressed the importance of finding the middle ground not just in raising children but in all areas of our lives. We talked back and forth for a bit which felt so surreal because here I was having a conversation with Eckart Tolle and I was freaking out.
After about 10 minutes, I thanked him and sat down still reeling from the euphoria of the moment. Later that evening some of the audience approached me to say that they thought most of us were manipulating, control freaks at some point in our lives which made me smile.
All of his talks were amazing as were Kim Eng’s (his wife) who talked in the mornings but his penultimate talk on the Saturday evening was a crescendo of consciousness. The whole room was captivated by his presence and his energy. He answered more questions, he hugged people, offered compassion and incredible insight and he even made jokes, usually referring to the madness of presidents and kings.
This man is sixty seven years old and told us all categorical that if he had a choice, he would spend 90% of his time just ‘being.’ He thought the universe was smiling because he currently spent 90% of his time ‘doing,’ in order to help the rest of us spend more of our time just ‘being’ and found the irony of this very funny, but he also recognised the importance of what he was doing for the future of humanity.
As I looked around the room I felt lucky to be spending time with a wonderful group of people, each one looking for something different from this experience. Some desperate for answers with their pain very visible to those around them and some happy to just enjoy the positive energy of Eckhart and the group. I was lucky enough to be in the latter category because having already experienced the desperation that comes in looking for answers from a spiritual teacher, I could enjoy this weekend more without that and I was extremely grateful.
During his last talk on Sunday morning, he thanked us all before saying goodbye. He asked us to keep the retreat inside of us forever, to be present and informed us that our careers as spiritual seekers was over. We were now to spread the light of consciousness and we left the auditorium on a high with our new found sense of purpose.
Summing up I can honestly say that it truly was a magical experience, one I will never forget. Having been on my own journey for many years, I already feel aligned with the universe and free from the burden of my mind, well most of the time anyway, but I left Norway with more clarity, more peace and more certainty in my own desire to be a spiritual teacher through speaking and writing so thank you for that Eckhart and thank you to the helpers and organisers with their warm welcome, their kindness and their enthusiasm to help make sure our experience was even more special.
To my Eckhart Tolle friends, I say this without reservation. If you can possibly attend one of his retreats in your lifetime, do it. Listening to this magnificent man is life changing and his message is profound yet simple. An evening with him or a retreat in the future will truly be worth every second of your time and money.