I think by now that everyone at some point in their life has heard of the book “The Power of Now”. I first discovered it about 15 years ago when at 28 years old I knew something wasn’t quite right in my life but I didn’t know what it was. I can’t remember how I came across it I just know that I expected it to give me the answers I was looking for so with great determination I set about reading it.
The first chapter blew me away, I desperately wanted to experience what Eckart himself talked about, I wanted to see my bedroom as he saw his following the cataclysmic event that forced his consciousness to break free of mind identification and change everything for him. I wanted to see everything around me vibrant and alive and full of beauty, I wanted to notice this beauty in the world as if I was seeing it for the first time and I wanted to take every second I had to be grateful and appreciative of everything in my life. I thought I’d struck gold, preparing myself to reach enlightenment at accelerated speed and all thanks to a £7.99 book.
I read with an unprecedented determination, making sure that each word penetrated my brain. I didn’t know what I was looking for but I was positive this book was going to reveal it to me. If I didn’t understand something I read it until I did or I’d Google it, reference it or compare it with other teachings, I basically did anything I could to make sure I understood every single word. The book says that nature is more alive when you look at it properly so I’d spend time in the garden looking at the trees in a conscious state, convincing myself that they were brighter, more vibrant and alive than I’d ever seen them, my excitement and expectation was boundless as I daydreamed of a life of inner peace, fulfilment and joy.
This determination stayed with me for the first few chapters and I was in a state of bliss. However I soon found myself drifting, I’d read for a while, then get distracted by the TV if I was in the lounge or something in the garden might catch my eye if I was in the kitchen. My mind began to wander and I found myself having to work really hard just to finish a page. I began to think about what I could be doing instead of wasting my time reading, I began to think about the food that was in the fridge wondering if there was anything nice to eat, what was happening this weekend, did I need that new pair of jeans. Even though I was reading about it, I didn’t realise that my mind had already commenced it’s battle to convince me that my life was fine just as it was. I mean come on, did I really need enlightenment? Didn’t I like living with that little bit of pain and anxiety about where my life was heading or not heading as it were. Wasn’t I comfortable blaming my folks, or my childhood on the fact that my life wasn’t were I thought it would be by then or even better, wasn’t my life was exactly where I wanted it to be and I was just ungrateful, greedy and unrealistic about what real happiness was.
Needless to say my mind won, it convinced me that I was very good at starting things but I don’t finish them, that’s just the way it is, that was my program and that was me. A few days later with a feeling of complete deflation I put the book away having made it to chapter 5.
Fast forward 14 years and I found myself reading it again. This time though, through many years of self development and spiritual work my experience was different. I finished the book but by now I already understood the power or now, I understood that the present moment was a gift and was all we ever had. I knew that most people on the planet lived their lives in the future experiencing negativity such as worry, anxiety or fear, sometimes they felt the positive emotions of expectation or anticipation or that they lived in the past feeling guilt, bitterness or regret, all of these emotions being illusory because we live in the now and they can’t exist in the now.
I finally understood this and felt an enormous sense of peace. However this time although I got it, I couldn’t hang onto it. Trying to remember to stay conscious and not get caught up in the realities of my life situation was very difficult. In the book Eckhart says that there are no such things as problems, (gosh I had loads of them), he says there are only situations that need to be dealt with or accepted until they change and that our resistance to such is what causes our suffering. I found this very hard to wrap my head around, as I had what felt like tons of problem in my life. I was trying very hard to make a success of many things to better my own life and my children’s lives and at times it seemed so hard.
I knew I was looking for external solutions but I couldn’t seem to get past that. I did have many moments when I felt enormous peace, I recognised the bigger picture, the beauty and wonder of life on planet earth and I spent most of my time in a state of gratitude. That was wonderful but I invariably found myself caught up in my ‘life situation’ unable to let go of the uncertainty and underling fear that was ingrained into me at a very young age. Although extremely diluted by now I still found myself dwelling on the worst case scenarios regarding my children or money or love and it felt insanely intense being aware of what I was doing but being helpless to change it.
Fast forward again which brings me to ‘The Now.’
As I continued on my journey of spiritual development accepting that I was living semi consciously, I discovered The Audible App for Amazon and of course downloaded The Power of Now to listen to it. Expecting it to be read by a stranger I was delighted to find that Eckhart Tolle himself read it. The only word to describe how I felt listening to him was mesmerised. He described everything I had read and tried to understand clearly and precisely. Somehow by listening to him, it all fell into place for me. Every time I was in my car, I listened, if I was out running, I listened, in bed at night, I listened. When I completed it, I went back to the start and listened again. It finally hit me and became crystal clear that although I thought myself somewhat enlightened, I wasn’t, I was still living mainly in the past, blaming people or situations for what was or wasn’t happening in my life or I was living in the future with my most frequent and favourite statements being ‘I’m going to’ or ‘when.’ I’m going to get organised, I’m going to work harder, I’m going to get fitter or when the kids go back to school, when the weather gets better, when I loose some weight and so on.
Listening this time made something happen for me, I’m not saying phycological time (as discussed in the book) has disappeared for me completely but for the past few weeks I find myself becoming more and more conscious. If I start to react to negativity I catch myself, if my thoughts are running away, I become aware of it and stop it. My attitude to life has become somewhat carefree and I’m not sure if it’s because I meditate daily and that, combined with the teachings of this book has helped me reach this new level of transformation. One thing I’m sure of is that this time, I don’t crave it, I’m not looking for it to be the answer. (The Buddha says the root of all suffering is craving) I’m allowing it to happen naturally and enjoying it without feeling pressurised to float around on a cloud of peace and have everything perfect in my life.
I’m a divorced mother of three boys, I have a business to run, a dog to walk and a washing machine that never seems to find it’s way to empty, but all that’s ok. I now get it, I have no problems, only situations to be dealt with or accepted until they change and everything I could ever need is within me.
There are of course times when negativity slips into my life, but it’s minimal, my recovery period is better and I become conscious faster. If I feel stressed I try to meditate or relax in some way, if I find myself flipping out at the kids, I try to remove myself from the situation and approach it with a calmer disposition and be the mother that I am instead of the mother that I’m going to be. If I’m wrong about something I have no problem apologising, or admitting it and that permanent undercurrent of fear that has been present in me my whole life is gone. I feel like my ego has finally left the building (most of the time) and by God it feels great.
I’m not saying the same thing is going to happen to everyone who listens to this book, it was part of my journey and combined with years of spiritual work it triggered something amazing for me. I now completely understanding that I can choose the future and past in which to live my life or I can choose the now and I definitely choose the now. I also highly recommend that everyone reads or listens to this amazing book at some point in their life.