The Major Change
As I kick off this blog-restart, I want to write about one particular subject that changed things for me. It will be referenced in future posts but I promise I’ll try to keep the volume down a bit. I don’t want to sound like I am proselytizing. I just want to put it all in one place so it’s understandable to the audience when I reference it down the road. I want to give credit where credit is due before moving forward.
Back in the later months of last year I was having a pretty rough time. I was super stressed, not sleeping well and my anxiety was out of control. I had breakfast with a dear friend and they said to me, “You gotta get out of your head. Your mind has completely taken you over.” I brushed it off at first but he persisted, “Tell you what, have you ever heard of a guy named Eckhart Tolle?” He then went on about him, his ideas and his books, encouraged me to watch some youtube videos.
I’m not going to go much further than that because I think you see where this is headed. The next day I started to read a PDF copy of his book, “The Power of Now.” It immediately had my attention. Two days later, I owned a hardback copy and, to this day, I still carry it with me. I read the book in a week and then, in a funny set of circumstances, my wife stumbled across of a copy of “A New Earth” for a few bucks at a used book store. I devoured it as well.
Tolle’s main point in his work is that nothing in this world is more powerful than mindfulness in the present moment, the Now. Here is a saying that helps to sum up Tolle’s theme.
“If you are depressed you are living in the past, If you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace you are living in the present.”
~~ Lao Tzu ~~
It was perfect timing from the Universe at large. When I read the first book, it was like being handed the final piece of a puzzle. A puzzle I had been fussing over most of my adult life. I began to practice the simple things the book suggested. Over the course of a month wonderful things began to happen. I began to change internally and, because of this, the world began to change around me. I began to have energy again. I began to sleep again. A clarity began to emerge. I was laughing more. In the physical world, a new, less stressful and better paying job appeared out of nowhere.
I am not going to lie. The first month of November and the following holidays were hard. Tolle’s ideas are that our Ego, both a personal Ego and the overall Ego of humanity is out of control. In a Buddhist sense, we are letting the dark monkey lead the elephant. By taking on daily practice of awareness and mindfulness I was directly challenging the Ego. Needless to say, the Ego, who had been running the show for the past 40+ years, was not happy. The first few weeks I would literally have physical pain in my chest when I began to go into deep meditation. Random panic attacks would spring up over the silliest of things.
However, as Tolle recommended, I kept at it. I kept it simple and non-judgmental. Heck, I’m STILL working at it. I always will be. Yet, as the days and weeks and months went by I noticed improvements. My chest pain faded and in it’s place I started to feel a warmth. (I started calling it “hitting the groove.’) Then, I started to practice all day and I started to realize that I was, for the first time, having long periods of happiness. More importantly, I started to notice how many other people were not happy. I think that was, and is, the most painful part for me.
In March/April, I went through a pretty difficult life event. The lack of sleep arose like a returning demon. The tightness in my chest returned as I worked through the event. I was reminded of one of the most powerful phrases, “This too shall pass…” I used all the tools I had been given, floated onward and through the other side about as gracefully as I could have hoped. It was at that point, in late April, that I felt something deep down click, like tumblers in a lock, and I realized I had found something I can only call “my Way” again.
Yes, Eckhart Tolle changed my life. I owe quite a bit to him and I will never forget how I felt halfway through the “Power of Now“, how I consumed that book like a starving man at his first big meal. He, himself, states that all he is has done is take the great wisdom, from Buddhism, Christianity, Sufism, Hinduism, Gnosticism, Taoism and many others and simply re-state it for modern consumption. In the end, it works and, for me, it’s powerful stuff.
So, as I move forward, I do so with these concepts in mind and I have no doubt it will leak through onto the pages of this blog. I will try to contain my excitement over them.