Friday, January 23, 2009

Taking the Eckhart Challenge

Wow, so it's been a while. I feel like my blog has become my favorite distant family member. A weird combination of great memories, lots of love and all the guilt from not staying in touch. I looked back at the time I last wrote and it was mid-October. I didn't actively choose to stop blogging specifically but not long after that last entry date I finally picked up Eckhart Tolle's The Power of Now (It's funny how the things that provide you the most benefit are often the things you put off for sooo long). It's a bizarre book that I would suggest to everyone although everyone won't receive the benefit. If you read reviews on this book they are clearly divided between those who think it's a miracle and those that think it's a joke. Complaints include the opinion it is too repetitive and also that it keeps telling you to be present but it doesn't tell you how. For people who don't get this book I completely understand. It is simple. For some too simple. The majority of the book discusses the most important things you can do for yourself is quiet your thoughts and stay in the present moment. The book provides a number of examples how but if you've never been present it's extremely challenging to even know if you have achieved what the book speaks of. I'll explain...
In the book Eckhart explains that in order for us to be present we have to learn to control our mind so that it doesn't make us think about all the things in the past that went well or bad and the things in the future yet to come. It's only when we can quiet the talk of the mind that we realize that under all our worries and regrets right now we're ok.
So I can imagine how impossible this would seem for someone trying to achieve presence. Picture it:
Having just finished reading the Power of Now this person who's never experienced meditation or pure silence in today's noisy society sits down to try to be present. What's the first thing that happens...
Their brain says "Is this presence, how about now? Hmmm I don't feel any different... Maybe I was present a second ago? How do I get out of my brain? I am my brain. This is silly!" I know the frustration of the situation because even if I know what it feels like to have complete silence in my head there are still times when I can't get myself to be present. I can only imagine how irritating it is to have some guy write a book that tells you to be present and provides examples of how to achieve this that are too simple and with no real way of gauging if you've achieved the goal.
So if anyone considers reading this book and they don't have a lot of experience with silence and stillness please consider looking into meditation or yoga as a slower guide to achieving presence, better that then getting frustrated and giving up on something that could be so meaningful to you.
Anyways, as to why I haven't written lately. I read Eckhart's book and decided to stack the cards in my favour to reach a state of presence. So I stopped listening to radio and watching TV for a bit and cut down my computer use to the bare minimum. Lately I've been working these things back into my life as I feel able to control my presence. This probably seems extreme to some people but anyone who's every watched a sad movie or heard a love song knows it pulls up all kinds of memories and dreams that successfully yank you out of the moment you're living in.
So there's an idea of where I've been. I'll keep working on it.
A quote from Eckharts book that kind of pulls the mind present pretty easily... "What in this moment is lacking?"