“If you struggle with being present in the now, you will struggle with life.” – Eckhart Tolle
We all know one or two people that are genuinely happy and love their lives. It’s not that they have everything all figured out, but they always seem to be fully present in whatever they are doing and always thoroughly enjoying themselves.
It’s common for most of us to find ourselves out at certain events and be thinking about other things. We think about what else we should be doing, where else we should be. We think about the past. We get anxious about things that haven’t happened yet, but so often we are never where we should be, which is where we are at that moment.
Everyone’s life is a work in progress and we all struggle at different stages of our journey. Being present is one of my biggest hurdles. My mind is always in 10 different places all at once. Even when I was a little girl, my report cards would always have comments like, “Savannah has difficulty focusing on her tasks. She often daydreams…” And it hasn’t stopped, as an adult I’m still day dreaming, my head is always in the clouds. I’m the consummate thinker, philosopher, always asking questions and always searching.
“This one, a long time have I watched. All his life has he looked away… to the future, to the horizon. Never his mind on where he was. What he was doing.” – Yoda
When trying to understand why most of us have such difficulty living in the present it’s important to understand what’s really going on inside of us. It’s the ego’s job to make sure that your identity is tied to material things, it wants you to compare yourself to others, it wants you to constantly be in a state of lacking and wanting more. It wants you to believe that you are separate.
But the truth is, as Tolle describes it, in The Power of Now, that inside all of us is an observer. Now a lot of you will tune out at this point and say, “Sav this is just too new age for me,” but follow this a little longer. If you don’t believe that there is an observer inside of you, sit still for a moment and just focus on your breathing. Concentrate on the air going in and out. Now in your mind have your little voice say, “Hey, what’s up?” Notice that you are not that voice, you are the observer of that voice.
This is the little voice that always takes you places that you don’t want to go. It leads you to hurt, it says mean things to you, it reminds you of hurtful, humiliating things that have happened in the past, it makes you anxious and fearful about the future. Once you recognize that you are not this voice, you realize that you don’t have to follow where it wants to go. It’s the observer who is really in charge here – not the ego.
You can watch the ego: seek out things, have cravings, dwell in the past, be fearful of the future, but none of it is who you are. Tolle says that an awareness of the observer is akin to enlightenment and enlightenment is peeling back the ego – peeling back the hurt, peeling back the pain, peeling back who you think you are, peeling back your thoughts, peeling back this physical body, peeling back your fears and what is left is the observer – that part of you that never changes. It is the silence. It is peace. It is joy, it is love, it is your true essence.
When you are craving that piece of pie you know you shouldn’t have, pay attention to who or what is doing the craving. It’s that little voice. The ego is always trying to fill some mystery void that it’s trying to convince you exists. If you allowed the observer to be present, you would realize that it doesn’t have any voids, there is no emptiness and it certainly doesn’t need any pie. The observer would be able to see the pie as something harmful. It would feel the effects of the sugar on the physical body and have no interest in it.
Non Acceptance and Time
Tolle tells us that the route of all suffering is non acceptance of what is. There is a lot of truth in the now infamous quote from the Secret, “What you resist persists.” If you are struggling with the pain of a break up, what you are really struggling with, is accepting the reality of what is. That’s what is causing all the pain. If we could accept it, it would no longer be able to cause us any pain. The more we fight the reality of the situation, the more pain we bring to ourselves.
Being the observer means to be watchful, to be present, to be conscious and to be aware. When we become aware, we can see that someone rejecting us is just a signal for change. It’s the ego that wants to tie your identity to another person. The ego wants you to be dependent on people and things. It wants you to hang on tight, rather than let go and just allow what is.
A lot of people find themselves waiting for something. We’re waiting for just the right time, just the right circumstances to line up before we take action, or do anything. In essence we’re waiting for some magical moment in the future, when we perceive things will be better and then we can allow ourselves to enjoy the present moment and truly live.
“Waiting is a state of mind, basically it means that you want the future, you don’t want the present. You don’t want what you’ve got and you want what you haven’t got. With every kind of waiting you unconsciously create inner conflict between your here and now – where you don’t want to be and the projected future where you want to be. This greatly reduces the quality of your life by making you lose the present.” Eckhart Tolle
When we have an awareness that the present moment is all there is, all there ever is, then we stop longing for a future where there will just be another present moment. We will stop allowing the past to define us and cause us pain, because in this the present moment we are safe. Being in a state of awareness is to be in a state of allowing. When we experience painful emotions, as the observer, we notice they are there, they are the body’s response to the mind/ego, but allow them to flow through us and except what is, without trying to control the outcome and wish it was any different.
Anytime you run into someone that seems to have a passion for life, their joie de vie seems to be contagious and people seem to gravitate towards them. While they may not all be in a state of enlightenment they do all seem to possess many of the same traits.
Common traits of people that have a passion for life
They are comfortable in their own skin.
They have a healthy self-esteem.
They have a strong support group and many friends.
They have many interests and hobbies.
They have an active social life.
They are optimistic.
They don’t dwell or internalize when things don’t go their way. Troubles just roll off of them like water off a ducks back.
They are fun and like adventure.
They love to laugh and always see the humor in everything – they don’t take themselves or anyone else too seriously.
They are easy going.
They see beauty everywhere.
They have a positive mental attitude towards life.
They believe that they have control over their destiny.
When you don’t derive your identity from your past, or from what you do, when you stop being fearful of the future, and you are comfortable with yourself, when you are able to accept the reality of what is and when you don’t live in fantasy land, when you believe that you are fully competent and fully in charge of your life and your destiny and when you view the world as a happy place with plenty of opportunities and when you don’t let things bother you, the quality of your life is much richer and your choices reflect that.
I think what people who love life have figured out, that the rest of us haven’t, is that when you are in a state of allowing, a state of awareness and living each moment fully, and when you seek joy, happiness and adventure you usually don’t have to look very far, because what you are seeking is usually seeking you too.
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