The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment
by Eckhart Tolle
At the beginning of 2019 I wanted to put an end to using the same new years resolutions that I had been so naive to set in the past, you know the ones: getting fit, eating healthy, staying positive, etc. This year I would opt for a resolution that would come a little more naturally to me but of course still allow me to eat cake.
My 2019 mantra was to go with the flow.
Now you may say that that is just a lazy excuse for someone who can't commit, but being the overbearing organiser and life planner that I am, I knew 'going with the flow' would pose a challenge. It didn’t mean I'd let each day pass by without achieving any of my set goals, instead it was more about letting go of the negativity, rejection or hardships associated with something I had set my mind too, essentially pushing me to move on quicker. When I was unsuccessful at a job interview, I accepted it then and there and moved on to the next job application. When a relationship ended and nothing more could be done, I moved on knowing that the unpredicted flow of life would probably see me forming new bonds with others and creating new friendships, which it did. Instead of dwelling on the outcome of a situation I knocked down my perfectionist barriers and succumbed to the universe’s uncertain flow. And it was the best thing I did!
The book that inspired me to do this was Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment. Published in 1997, The Power of Now, sheds light on the importance of staying in the present moment and how to deal with the worries and stresses of everyday life. It took me almost two years to finish reading this book as it requires your full attention - no multitasking or distractions. I recommend everyone read this book at least once, and hopefully, just like me, you'll come out of it with a new perspective on life.
Tolle constantly reminds you that living in the 'Now' is the essential part of finding enlightenment; being present within your own mind and not holding onto past mistakes, experiences or worries about future endeavours. As human beings we can't change the past and we'll never have full control over the future, but we do have control over this very moment. Right now we have the ability to acknowledge our surroundings and be totally aware, yet so many of us choose to ignore it, believing that happiness will come only within the future. Dreaming or imagining about better times tomorrow wont alleviate our suffering now.
Another pivotal force in discovering enlightenment is to recognise the presence of 'Being'. Some may see this as God or Buddha, but Tolle suggests that ‘Being’ is actually deep within us and no name or pronoun can describe it. Perhaps it is similar to a person's soul? It's not a thing, a body, space nor an object. This is where it starts to get a little confusing and Tolle has a much better way of explaining it than I do. In addition, The Power of Now identifies comparisons between the Buddhist and Christian faiths, drawing inspiration from a wide range of religious texts. The book never goes as far to mention what religion, if any, is wrong or right, hoping that the reader will find it within themselves to acknowledge their own inner being and understand why these religious stories and parables have helped people to find this sense of enlightenment.
The Power of Now encouraged me to meditate. Often I'd find myself taking time after each paragraph to reflect on Tolle's thought-provoking words, spending two to five minutes blocking off the outside world and focusing on my breathing. When I found myself letting go of my thoughts and thinking of absolutely nothing (which takes awhile to get the hang of) I felt wholesome and relaxed, clearing my head of negativity and even appreciating my body more. Often when I awoke I felt more creative, and decisions that had troubled me in the past now seemed easier to grasp. I even found myself not overthinking the aspects of my life that were out of my control. I acknowledged my emotions and tried hard not to let my ego rise in the heat of the moment; removing myself from useless arguments and time wasting drama.
By going with the flow and living in the 'Now' my anxiety eased and I developed a more positive outlook on life, which my former new years resolutions failed to do. I recommend this book for anyone seeking direction, those who are struggling to understand the meaning of their own lives, or people who simply just want to better themselves in dealing with future job prospects, relationships and/or friendships. I hope it helps change someone else’s life as it has mine.
And with that, here are some quotes from The Power of Now to reflect on:
"There are cycles of success, when things come to you and thrive, and cycles of failure, when they wither or disintegrate and you have to let them go in order to make room for new things to arise, or for transformation to happen. If you cling and resist at the point, it means you are refusing to go with the flow of life, and you will suffer."
"Realise deeply that the present moment is all you have. Make the NOW the primary focus of your life."
"Negativity is totally unnatural. It is a psychic pollutant, and there is a deep link between the poisoning and destruction of nature and the vast negativity that has accumulated in the collective human psyche. No other life-form on the planet know negativity, only humans, just as no other life-form violates or poisons the Earth it sustains. Have you ever seen an unhappy flower or stressed oak tree?"
"Only through the letting go of resistance, through becoming 'vulnerable,' can you discover your true and essential invulnerability."