If you’ve taken a yoga class you might have been asked to “stay present.” What on earth does that mean, you wonder. If you’re here, aren’t you “present”?
Spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle, in his now-classic, bestselling book, The Power of Now, attempts to break it down for us. He suggests that being fully present, or living with joy, means to be absorbed in this very moment – without thoughts rattling around in our heads. Tolle says we exist in our purest state beneath the frantic chatter of the conscious, ego-driven mind.
If you’ve ever been in an emergency where you felt supercharged, and responded instantly with a startling clarity of action – you’ve entered the state that Tolle believes is our natural mode of being. But how do you stop the chatter in your head that blocks this pure state of mind? With so much to do and think about all the time, we need to learn to quiet the compulsive thinking of the mind.
Below are three simple steps to help you get in touch with your natural state of mind – without the chatter. In other words, it’s how you tap into The Power of Now.
Pay attention to what you’re thinking as you’re waiting in line for a latte or receiving a stack of papers from your boss. Observe your thoughts and judgments – about others, about yourself, or about situations. Listen for repetitive mental statements such as “things never work out for me,” or “she has it so easy.” Once you’re aware of the contents of your mind, you can make conscious changes.
If you’re sitting on the subway, feel the temperature of the seat beneath you. Notice the change in the air when the doors open, be aware of how lightly or heavily you sit. Are you perched, or slumped? How many sounds can you distinguish? What are the scents in the air? In really noticing your body and your senses, you’ll have a fuller appreciation of your reality and of the moment.
Go somewhere with natural beauty – even a quiet garden will do. Allow yourself to really look with deep interest and intent at the natural world. Examine the soft petals of a rose, the gleam on a beetle’s back, the shades of yellows in a sunflower’s center. Give yourself a moment to be in touch with nature, like you were as a child. After a few minutes of close observation, look up and see if somehow you feel different – because you will!
Do these exercises every day. Soon, these little actions will break the spell of the mind, where you’re so lost in thought that you’re unaware of your own surroundings, unaware of the present moment. Tolle advises those who want to experience the world beneath the (noisy) world to resist nothing – to accept life as it is, to feel the feelings this brings up, and to watch them be transformed through attention and observance. You will then live in the now, and feel its power in everything you do!
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