Friday was a professional development day sponsored by our teacher’s federation. The morning was spent together as a whole federation. There is only one location in our area that is large enough to have a meeting for our whole group. This location is close to my school and I had lots of unfinished work to get done so I opted to head to school and work for 45 minutes before the presentation. I arranged to meet a couple of friends there so we could travel together and ease the traffic situation at least a little.
After two very enjoyable and entertaining speakers, we were on our way to pick up some lunch and head back to our school for the afternoon part of the program. I opted to enjoy the time spent in the car with my friends. I was in no hurry to get anywhere and was simply enjoying the moment and the conversation with my friends.
I watched with amusement many of the other drivers who seemed in such a hurry to get some place else — exhibiting obvious impatience as the stream of traffic crawled slowly towards the exit. I made a comment to my friends that maybe the other drivers should just get over themselves and realize that it takes time for everyone to be leaving at the same time with only two exits to choose from.
My friend in the back seat quickly agreed with me and then added that the trouble was that we keep getting in our own way. I realized how often that happens in life – getting in our own way.
Saying yes to life in the present keeps us out of our own way. Yet so often we allow the incessant chatter in our minds to get in the way of our simply being and enjoying life in the present. Whether we are in an endless loop of playing old tapes of all our past wrongs or running the drama of all the awful things that may happen in the future – the result is the same. We firmly plant ourselves in our own way of simply living in the present allowing life to be rather than fighting against it.
Eckhart Tolle in The Power of Now describes this compulsive thinking as an addiction. These repetitive thought patterns feed energy to the emotions that we experience in our bodies. The emotions in turn energize the thought patterns feeding more energy to the emotions. Tolle describes emotions as amplified thought patterns. In this place we are caught in an endless cycle, firmly planted in our own way. The power of being present in the now can stop this endless cycle. In the now, we can notice what is happening in our bodies as an observer of the mind. By simply noticing and not judging, we can get out of our own way and work with life rather than against it.
Tolle tells of an “emotional pain body” inside us that can be dormant or active. The pain can be new pain created now or pain carried from the past. New pain resonates with pain patterns from the past. The intensity of the pain depends on the resistance we have to the present moment. The more that you are identified with the mind, the more you will suffer. The more you are able to accept and honour the now, the more you are free from the pain and suffering.
Waiting for the speakers to begin in our Friday morning session, I looked around the room and took some time to notice how I felt inside. I was very comfortable within my own body. This is a very new feeling for me and I took time to enjoy it.
I remembered many other times in a very similar situation where I sat engulfed in fear. The fear was a buffer zone to protect me from whatever was around me. I was so often immobilized with this fear. Looking around the room on Friday, I noticed how little there was to be afraid of. In the present there was very little to be afraid of. The dramas in my mind were a totally different story. Allowing them to take over my life left me immobilized in my fear.
Recognizing the dramas for exactly what they are, mind games to keep me out of the present and identified with my mind, I can more easily let them go and get out of my own way. Staying present and conscious keeps the pain body from controlling my thinking.
Tolle suggests that we focus our attention on the feeling inside, knowing that it is the pain body. Accept that it is there and don’t let the feeling turn into thinking. Don’t judge or analyze. Don’t make an identity for yourself out of it. Be present and continue to observe. In this place you can get out of your own way and experience the power of the now.