With the Olympics on, the Canada – U.S. gold medal hockey game about to start, school work that needs doing, reports looming in the near future, and a busy week ahead – it would have been so easy to decide that I do not have time to write. AND I want to write so I will take the time that I need to complete the task.
I have been listening to The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle on my Rio player while I walk the dog. I enjoyed it so much that I am listening again with pen in hand to make notes.
Tolle begins by telling us that his book is to remind us of what we have forgotten. We already have all that we need. We know what we need to know. We know how to be. It is the place inside of you that says, “Yes, I know this is true.” The incessant internal noise of the mind keeps us from this place. Our minds are simply making too much noise.
Your deepest self – your true nature – is what Tolle describes as “being.” This sense of being is deep within every form. It is the feeling of “I am.” This is being present. The now is all we have. In this moment, the now is all there is. Just me sitting at my computer typing – and yet my mind so often resists being here in the now.
Since being at Haven, I have learned to focus my attention more and more in the present AND my mind still wanders. I could sit here and worry about how to get everything done by the end of the week when the report card deadline looms. My mind can very easily get into the endless chatter about all that I have to do. In that place nothing gets done. When I focus in the now — my list of things to do gets shorter. The future will be what it is when it arrives. No amount of thinking about it now will change it. Lost in that endless mind chatter — I lose out on living life.
Most thinking is repetitive and harmful. We all have our own special tapes that we enjoy playing over and over again in our mind. From this content of mind, we derive our sense of self. This false self or ego is a mental image of ourselves that we have worked hard to create. Our mind is quite attached to this ego and does it best to maintain that created image of us. The mind wants to be in control so it resists living in the now.
How do we get past this incessant chatter in the mind?
One of my favourite ways of staying stuck in ego has been to awfulize some event that is about to happen. My mind loops again and again over every awful thing that may happen when I attempt to do something. I think of every possible thing that may go wrong. I have become frozen in this place and my only escape in the past was to hide deep within myself. The endless loop or escape — my only apparent choice.
What I have learned to do is simply to notice. Tolle describes this as “being a watcher.” Ask yourself what is going on inside. Be aware — just watch. The most important part of this is to be aware without judging. Notice what you are doing. Notice the situation and your reaction to it. Notice — don’t judge.
When you simply notice, you are in the present. The moment you being to judge and replay all those old tapes, you have slipped back into the past. Again and again, notice and bring yourself into the present. Do this again and again. It takes many repetitions. With time, it will become easier and easier.
A simple way to practice is to bring your attention over and over again to a simple repetitive task such as walking up the stairs, washing the dishes, or having a shower. Be present in that moment only. Notice and let it go. Strive to achieve longer and longer times of quieting your mind. With this kind of practice, quieting your mind in higher stress times will be easier.
When I get into my “awfulizing” in a major way, I find it helpful to refocus my attention to a time when things did not work out as awful as I thought and then simply notice that this is my pattern when I get scared. I have worked hard at reminding myself to notice the present and ask myself if there is anything I can do about the situation right here and now. If yes, then I make an informed decision about what to do now. If not, I let it go and continue with the present.
This is not easy AND this is simple. Keep noticing and move on. The now is all you really have. As Tolle suggests — say yes to life in the present and see how it works for you rather than against you. The present moment is simply what it is — watch and see how the mind responds to it.
The game has started. I think I have written this article in record time for me. Focusing on the present task has now given me more time for a future task. My new “now” will be watching the game and cheering Canada on to victory!