Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Eckhart Tolle: my new BFF

Serendipity or synchronicity? Whichever it is, I love it when you pick up a book or an article and find yourself with exactly the thing you needed to hear.

I’m a bit grumpy today because I haven’t slept properly for the last few nights. I’m doing all the right things around food, exercise, drink, relaxing etc. but my brain isn’t listening.

I started this year with a determination/resolution to overcome both depressive moods and irrational anxiety – both of which I had been putting down to ‘that age’ and it’s associate ‘the change’.  I’ll be damned if I let hormones rule my life. However, as I researched and observed, it became clear that they were not the culprits.

I found myself drawn to pick up a book recommended a couple of years ago by a Buddhist friend. I have been practising Nichiren Buddhism for more than 20 years, a practice that encourages mastering one’s mind among other things. Whilst my practice remains constant, sometimes hearing things another way refreshes your perspective and reawakens your understanding. 

The Book is Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now.

Very simply, he teaches that depression means too much living in, focus on, control by the past: anxiety means too much concern and worry over the future. Now, on one level I knew this as our Buddhism teaches that the past is gone and done and the future is only a dream, not yet here. But I guess I only knew this in my head and hadn’t really considered the physical symptoms as trying to tell me the same thing.

And I embedded and excused both patterns by thinking: well, bad things happened in the past that mean I have to have certain strategies in case they happen again; and forgiving anxiety as the natural condition for the Mum of a special kid, frankly, any mum.

What utter nonsense. What a waste of energy. What a distraction from being right here, right now.

I thought I’d been doing quite well working on being present and being in the now – until I observed my manic mind these last few nights. So I opened the book this afternoon to read:

‘The mind absorbs all your consciousness and transforms it into mind stuff. You cannot stop thinking. Compulsive thinking has become a collective disease.’

Certainly describes me in my sleepless state (and possibly a lot of my usual waking state too). 

Thankfully, on the very next page, Tolle offers an exercise. When you are lost in your mind, you need to draw your focus back into the body, feeling the inner body.

So tonight, if my mind is frantic, I shall try to follow his advice. I just hope in another chapter soon, he can tell me how not to hear the deafening tinnitus in my left ear that threatens to ruin my peace. 

To the here and Now friends. Be present and enjoy.

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