THE POWER OF (the right book) NOW

 

A few years back I loaned a book to a friend thinking she might connect with it because of a conversation we had.  The book was Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now and after reading it she thanked me for saving her life.

I understood her sentiment.  I hadn’t literally saved her life, but the contents of the book had had such a profound effect on her that she was a changed person; she now had the understanding that we are not our minds.  It’s a most magical moment when the concept is grasped that you don’t have to acknowledge a thought in your mind and attach a feeling, emotion, or belief to it.  You can view it instead from the sideline, choosing to watch it pass through your mind or choosing to give it your attention.  When you know your thoughts are separate from yourself, you’re in a neutral position and can then choose your reaction to them.  Way easier said than done.

Most humans are never fully present in the now, because unconsciously they believe that the next moment must be more important than this one.  But then you miss your whole life, which is never not now.” –Eckhart Tolle

My practice is weak at best and I’m often caught up in thoughts of the future or of past experiences.  I only go through periods of heightened mindfulness.  Usually something unsettling is happening in my life that reminds me to look inward and figure things out, hence bringing me back to a mindful place.  Or maybe I have an untrue thought that I don’t want to think into a reality.

Example, I’ve found my mind worrying about my children’s safety.  It’s just a split second, but my thoughts have gone so far as to envision scenarios, like say an accident on their bicycle.  At those times I purposely think, ‘Look at that thought.  It’s not my reality.  My children are safe and healthy.’ and I picture the thought leaving my head (the thought is something I can see, separate from me, like say a book).   And then I don’t put my worry on them.  I try not to give them 27 bits of advice which would only clutter their brains as they cycle off to the park like ‘avoid soft sand, don’t cycle too close to the wall/into the middle of the road, don’t look back over your shoulders, go slowly down the hills, it’s okay if you lag behind, make sure you’re all together, and so forth’.  Besides, I already told them all that when they were learning to cycle.  And they have common sense.

It takes practice, practice, practice to maintain a separateness from one’s thoughts though.  What helps?  Meditation.  Again, there’s room for much improvement regarding the time I allow for mindful meditation, but I’m working on it.

“Science confirms the experience of millions of practitioners: meditation will keep you healthy, help prevent multiple diseases, make you happier, and improve your performance in basically any task, physical or mental.”  –Giovanni Dienstmann

It’s easy to imprison ourselves in our thoughts, so it’s a good idea to pay attention to the emotions they create in you.  They have the power to heal or to wreak havoc on our health.   Feelings like fear, anger, irritation, judgement, insecurity, and blame can imprison us and create sickness and disease, but the good news is that we can free ourselves.  When I have physical issues, I turn inward– from shoulder pain to cold sores, spells of headaches, nausea, and pimples, I’ve found causes rooted in my thinking and approached them from a psychological point of view.  I ask myself, what stinkin’ thinkin’ is causing these issues?   A hearty dose of self-reflection can sure be a prescription for a healthy recovery.  I wonder what these symptoms might have progressed to if I hadn’t addressed them and corrected my mental attitude.

My two trusted resources for accurate and deep understanding as to the cause and effect relationship between physical ailments and mental patterns are Deb Shapiro’s Your Body Speaks Your Mind: Understanding how your emotions and thoughts affect you physically and Louise Hay’s You Can Heal Your Life.   Both are brilliant books, one that was recommended to me and one that I came across by chance.

The only thing we are ever dealing with is a thought, and a thought can be changed. Most of the time when we are in pain, it’s because we are responding to our thoughts about something.”  –Louise Hay

You’ve probably heard me whinge lately about my schedule.  Not enough time to do all the creative and personal things I want to do and not able to do them when I want to.  In a nutshell, I was feeling terribly sorry for myself, like a petulant child discontented over not getting an unrealistic desire.  Not out loud, but worse, keeping the feelings inside and ignoring them while they seeped out in passive aggressive ways.

Of course, I started becoming physically unwell.  Even after this understanding– all that I wrote about the mind and what I have come to understand and believe– I was still throwing myself a pity party instead of focusing on the goodness of all I have in my life regards to people and opportunities and health.

The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation but your thoughts about it.” –Eckhart Tolle

During this time I sent a book to a friend in America, totally unrelated to this topic, just one I thought she would like.  In turn, she sent me one back, Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic: Creative living beyond fear.   It was just the kick in the pants I needed to get out of the funk I was in.

This, “I do not know of any creative soul who does not dream of calm, cool, grass-growing days in which to work without interruption.  Somehow, though, nobody ever seems to achieve it….Reality’s demands are constantly pounding on the door and disturbing them.”, is one of many wonderful, though often quirky, points of view by Gilbert that was helpful to me.

For anyone involved in personal or professional creative pursuits and anyone who, like me, is feeling a bit fragile about it all, this book is very inspiring in an ‘as serious as it is, don’t take it all so seriously’ kind of way.  I don’t agree with everything she thinks, but she did change my attitude about a couple things, most importantly my outlook on working a job while pursuing creative aspirations.

Don’t abandon your creativity the moment things stop being easy or rewarding because that’s the moment when interesting begins.”  –Elizabeth Gilbert

A friend once said to me ‘If you’re not careful you might learn something new every day’ and over the years I’ve grown to love this humorous truth and to repeat it many times.  I adore when I reread a book or just reference a section of it and something new and salient is gleaned.

The books I’ve mentioned here have been invaluable to me.  I admire the authors, respect their candour when sharing their personal experiences, and how when doing so, they edify others.  I appreciate how I’ve benefited from their hard work.

Life does not come with instructions on how to live, but it does come with trees, sunsets, smiles and laughter, so enjoy your day.  –Debbie Shapiro

On that note, I shall love you and leave you with hugs and love, peace and light,

Melissa Xx

 

22 Comments

  1. Just the words and reminder I needed during this busy time of year….I think I may have to re-read your post just to let these fine, wise words settle in. I have read the Power Of Now many times, have also given it to friends, yet there are days my tricky minds leads me away from what is really happening. Mindfulness is the right work, when we circle back from our hectic thoughts to practice the real moment, the act of doing just this one thing at this very moment, is immediately freeing. My friend once said to me, ” Denise, don’t react to the moments of the day before they actually happen”. Hmm. I am so glad there was a moment my fingers on the keyboard led me to your blog, led me across the ocean to meet you and your fantastic family, and has given me the great pleasure of bearing some witness ( by way of your sharing thoughts, words, poetry) to your intentional life out there on the Aran Islands. So much more to say about this wise post, but for now, I will use it as a reminder to greet my day and remain present in its offerings. Best to you and thank you for sharing these very good and wise thoughts!
    denise

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi there Denise, That’s the way for most it seems with the many distractions, as pleasant and welcome as they may be. I like the advice of your friend very much and have taken her wise words to my own heart. Here’s hoping that we can both live more in the moment,as they really are too good to not notice while they’re happening rather than looking back on them once they’ve passed. Have a lovely right now (and a lovely weekend too 🙂 ). Melissa

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  2. Beautifully put as ever!
    ‘You Can Heal Your Life” and Deepak Chopra have been my helpful companions for many a year and it is great to be reminded of them.
    A little story about ‘The Power of Now’:
    I had heard about the book, friends were telling me about it, I had not read it.
    I was on the train and the man opposite was reading it. I asked him what he thought of it. He told me he had read it many times, he showed me some of his notes in the margins, he was a surgeon and said he often gave his patients this book when they expressed anxiety about an upcoming major operation.
    As he left the train he gave me his book – the one with all his notes in the margins – I protested – he insisted in the nicest, most generous and ernest way.
    A few months later after reading the book, and all the notes the surgeon had written, I was on the train and looking through it again. A young woman (in her 20s) sitting opposite me asked me about the book, I told her the story of the surgeon. As she got up to leave the train, I gave her the book.
    She accepted it with such a look of relief, appreciation and joy and gave me a knowing wave from the platform as the train left the station. The POWER of NOW.
    ❤ ❤ ❤
    Many blessings dear one. ❤

    Liked by 7 people

    • No coincidences there…I wonder does she still have the book and how it impacted her life. Amazing to think how one gesture has a ripple effect like that.
      Eckhart’s book is so powerful and so is your story. Thank for sharing it with me and adding much to the thought of how the right book at the right moment can be a life changer.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Anonymous says:

    A friend recommended Louise Hay to me many years ago. I was too busy to spend any time reading, but I passed a couple of her books onto my mother. She really enjoyed them and has been reading others by Hay ever since. When she is having a stressful time, she often goes back to them to get herself back to a good place. So I agree with you completely about the power of Now and the power of reading. My task is to apply it to myself!

    I love your writings! Read them often, seldom comment.
    Love to you and yours,
    Eithna

    Liked by 1 person

    • Such a wonderfully welcome surprise to hear from you Eithna. As I was putting fresh linens on the children’s beds the day before yesterday I saw the notes Katherine had recently written to each of the children– a couple of them had them on their bedside tables with other things of personal importance. Anyhoo, my mind thought how special it was that she had included them in her pen-palling with Margaret Maeve and how they will look back on the history of their relationship with such warm memories. MM made a treasure hunt for them to seek and find her letters so it was a bit extra special on top of the super specialness of receiving mail from America. Please thank her for being so loving towards them.

      I can imagine your mother reading Louise Hay! Your mum could teach her a thing or two I’m sure as she’s a treasure of wisdom in herself. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts with me today.

      Love and hugs to all on your side of the Atlantic too!
      Melissa

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  4. Roz Hill says:

    Wise words….
    I don’t know where I have been but I have not heard of this book. However you talk of a book that can change your life and the one that had most influence on my attitude to life was ‘Feel the fear and do it anyway’. It certainly jolted me into action at a time when I was at a very low ebb. 💙💜💚💛❤️

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’ve never heard anyone regret reading it, quite the opposite. I’d guess you’d know after the first few pages if it was for you. Just the fact that it’s under your roof says it found it’s way to you…

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  5. nanacathy2 says:

    Thank you for this. I shall look out for this book. Your post was most apt for me. We are having to face up to the decision regarding my Mum and whether the time has come for her to go in a home and I am swamped with thoughts of the past and of the future.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I feel for you Cathy. We had that decision to make for my Mum 18 months ago – not easy. I must have looked at about 12 different homes before we came across the one where she is now. Getting her there was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to do, but now she is safe and as happy as she can be and the staff are lovely with her. I wish you love and luck and as much good support as you can muster.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I can’t imagine this decision can be easy in any way. Whether reading this book would make it easier, I don’t know that either; my guess would be it could be of benefit though.

      One thing that Eckhart Tolle writes is the importance of accepting before acting– ‘Accept-then act. Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it. Always work with it, not against it.’ It’s good to get quotes in their context, with the passages preceding and following, but as this immediately sprang to mind, I thought I’d share.

      Your mum is really blessed to have you, someone so caring, loving, and concerned, helping to make decisions for her at this time of her life. Best to you with it all, Melissa

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