As I wrote a little while ago, my wife and I are reading through “The Power of Now.” I think my wife would agree that Now is the perfect time to be reading it (No, I was not being cute–but it ended up that way anyway).
The book actually blew my mind last week when we read the following passage:
“All negativity is caused by… denial of the present. Unease, anxiety, tension, stress, worry–all forms of fear– are caused by too much future, and not enough presence. Guilt, regret, resentment, grievances, sadness, bitterness, and all forms of nonforgiveness are caused by too much past, and not enough presence.”The Power of Now, 61
Tolle is saying that all negativity is related to the brain’s addiction to thinking about the past and the future. Furthermore, negative emotions can actually be assigned either a past- or a future-focus. So, for example, worry is focusing on the future… imagining things you don’t want. Regret is focusing on the past… on things you wish you hadn’t done. Resentment is also focusing on the past… on something you wish someone else hadn’t done. Stress is a form of worrying about the future. And guilt is a form of dwelling on or suffering over the past.
This idea of categorizing these negative feelings as being either past- or future-focused is brilliant! I had never thought of these emotions this way. It drives home Tolle’s thesis so succinctly: basically, if you are feeling any of these negative feelings (fear, worry, regret, resentment, stress, guilt, nonforgiveness), your brain has got you focused on the past or the future… and not blissing out on them either. So live in the now, Dude!
Here’s more from that section:
“You may find it hard to recognize that time is the cause of your suffering or your problems… If all your problems or perceived causes of suffering or unhappiness were miraculously removed for you today, but you had not become more present, more conscious, you would soon find yourself with a similar set of problems or causes of suffering… Ultimately, there is only one problem: the time-bound mind itself.”The Power of Now, 61
Tolle goes on to explain that there are no problems in the Now, and that problems need time to survive. In other words, they need the concept of time to exist. In fact, the past and future really are merely concepts… you have to think about them, otherwise they don’t exist.
Without the concept of time, if you only have Now, what problem do you really have right this minute? As he writes,
[I]t is impossible to have a problem when your attention is fully in the Now. A situation that needs to be either dealt with or accepted –yes. Why make it into a problem? Why make anything into a problem? Isn’t life challenging enough as it is? What do you need problems for?The Power of Now, 64-65
To me, this entire section is significant because it is undeniable reasoning for getting fully in the present. Recently, I’ve been meditating in increments of a few minutes up to about a half an hour. While I do this, I am practicing being present. Sometimes, I have been doing this even when I am at the store, or at a class or performance. Even with my eyes open doing things, I’m seeing myself connect more fully in the present.
Bottom line is, I’m appreciating the book. I missed the “Power of Now” craze when this first came out, but now I know why it was so popular!
So are you present?