I'm watching a free video series from Oprah that's available on iTunes. She calls it her Soul Series and one of the people she interviews is Eckhart Tolle. (Another one totally worth listening to is Byron Katie. I'd never heard of her before the Leadershift 2010 conference, but darnit, here is another person that has already put into a book exactly what I've been thinking for years! I've GOT to get on this author thing!) I loved Eckhart's book, A New Earth, and I highly recommend it.
In Part 2 of Oprah's interview with Tolle, she opens the phone lines so callers can ask him questions. The first caller asks him, "How do you embody what you talk about—you being free of the domination of ego? Can you please share your experience of being in the here and now."
He gives some explanation to lay out how he lives in the present moment and clarifies that he also lives with awareness of chronological time. He says the primary focus is always on the present moment. It makes life very simple (I'm paraphrasing) and can also be described as a state of surrender to life. He goes on to say if you live a life full of trouble, a very important question to ask yourself is, "What is my relationship to this moment? Am I making this moment into an enemy? Am I treating this moment as an obstacle that I need to overcome?"
Eckhart says he, personally, has a very friendly relationship with the present moment as he doesn't put the present in a negative light, as if it's something he has to endure or get through (again, paraphrasing) to get on to something happier. I can totally identify with that. I know I USED to be that way, and perhaps sometimes I fall back into it. However, for the most part since I've been in San Diego I've had plenty of challenging moments, but I've also found surrendering to them makes life easier, and friendlier (I like that description :).
Remaining present, and choosing what is happening *now* has kept my monkey mind from focusing too much on the past or future, thereby creating a problem where none exists. Problems can only exist in the future and past. There may be challenges in the present moment, but there are no problems because problems require time to build, and the present moment holds no time as we understand it, especially not enough time to build an entire problem.
So he says if you're living a stressful life, a tool to use for change is to stop and ask yourself several times a day, "'How am I relating to the present moment?' Because when you do that what you're really asking is 'What is my relationship with life?' because the present moment is essentially your life. You can only encounter your life in the present moment. So it's a vital question to ask yourself 'what is your relationship with life?' because if your life is one of hostility, which is when you make the present moment into an obstacle or an enemy, then life always reflects back to you your predominant state of consciousness."
I love how he put this particular thought - that life always reflects back to you your predominant state of consciousness. I wanted to make note of it for myself as well as share it with whoever might be reading here because I feel this is a really great way to get the idea across that YOU are creating your life. Not some guy behind a curtain or an angry old man on a throne in the sky - it's all YOU baby.
What are you reflecting today? Right now?
And what are you reflecting NOW?
How 'bout now?
How 'bout now?
Yeah, I know, I could go on with that forever. If you have trouble remembering to stop and ask yourself this question throughout the day, set a series of alarms on your phone's calendar (or something you refer to frequently to keep track of your day) to bring your focus to the present for at least those few seconds each day. Eventually you will find yourself anticipating the reminder, therefore it is already being brought to the front of your consciousness, and it will become a *good* habit. (The word "habit" has definitely earned an undeserved reputation as something negative.)
The best time to ask that question tho is *every* time you encounter change, which for most humans, is A LOT during a 24 hour period. Change can encompass something as common as a car moving into your lane on the freeway, or as large as news that changes your life. Good or bad, change creates a lot of stress for us meat suits because we are forced to adapt and evolve to fit the new situation, sometimes very quickly. It is a survival instinct to be able to do so. If your automatic reaction to change is resistance, hostility, anger, sadness or anything less than acceptance, imagine the percentage of the day you spend feeling yukky! Are you sure you want to live that way? Wouldn't you rather be happy NOW?
I hadn't really thought about how I reached the state of peace I currently enjoy 90% of the time, but looking back I suppose I just kept asking myself, "What am I feeling in this moment? Do I want to be this or happy?" I kept choosing happy until the answer was "I'm already happy and it don't get better than that!" a good majority of the time. It's a matter of continuing to bring your focus back to RIGHT NOW.
That picture of the outdoor banner over on the right side of this very blog that says,"You are here, but are you present?" That is the wallpaper on the front of my phone. Even when I'm looking at it without really seeing it, I think it taps my subconscious and says, "Pssst. Are you really present to this moment?" Like I said... it's become a habit.
I think since we're all human there will always be some times when we're less than happy, so for those perfectionists out there (me included) I have also come to realize that acceptance also means life will not be perfect 100% of the time. How boring would that be anyway? I would be surprised if even Eckhart said he's in a state of bliss 100% of the time.
I've said many times that I have gratitude for the lows because without them, how would we define and enjoy the highs? So even in sadness or anger or whatever, I realize somewhere deep down it's ok to have that too. The word AND is so much more powerful than that word OR.
Well, my thoughts are starting to fly all over and no doubt it has something to do with it being 5am. Just wanted to put that out there tho because the reflection is beautiful. :)