So I decided that my journal entries for my Health & Healing class could suffice as blog entries. There are little bits of my thoughts mixed with some great ideas from Eckhart Tolle's book "The Power of Now." I highly recommend the book to anyone looking to change their thinking patterns or just wanting a new outlook on life. :o) Hope you're enjoying your weekend! I am enjoying a lazy Sunday in my Pj's curled up on the couch journaling for class. I slept in and I woke me up to Daner bringing me toast, OJ, and scrambled eggs with yellow peppers and spinach! Oh and of course two big, black dogs snorting in my face at the side of the bed! A perfect way to start the day!
CHAPTER 4: MIND STRATEGIES FOR AVOIDING THE NOW-
But I still have to pay the bills tomorrow, and I am still going to have to balance work and school, and I am still going to grow old and face illnesses/diseases/tragedies just like everybody else. So how can I ever say that I am free of time? Tolle explains that tomorrow’s bills are not the problem. The loss of Now is the problem, the core delusion that turns a mere situation, event, or emotion into a personal problem and into suffering. When there’s this constant “background static,” it feeds the unease, discontent, boredom, or nervousness. Many people use alcohol, drugs, sex, food, work, television, or even shopping as an anesthetic in an unconscious attempt to remove the basic unease. Maybe I am being taken advantage of or, maybe the activity I’m engaged in is tedious, maybe someone close to me is dishonest, irritating, or unconscious, but all this is irrelevant. Whether my thoughts or emotions about this situation are justified or not makes no difference. The Buddha taught that the root of suffering is to be found in our constant wanting and craving.
How do you deal with life’s challenges when they come? Me, I talk about (ok, ok…vent) my emotions to my fiancé, my family, and/or my close friends or I eat chocolate, lots of dark, yummy chocolate. :o) I also like going to the gym or a good hike when it's nice out. Sometimes I even think about how my life could be different under certain circumstances. But this is resisting what is, making the present moment into an enemy. When these emotions arise, I can either stop doing what I am doing, speak to the person concerned and express fully what I feel, or drop the negativity that my mind has created around the situation that serves absolutely no purpose whatsoever except to strengthen a false sense of self. Negativity is never the optimum way of dealing with any situation. In fact, it will most likely keep me stuck in it, blocking real change. Furthermore, any negative inner energy is contagious; it can trigger and feed concealed negativity in others. Tolle asks, “Are you polluting the world or cleaning up the mess?” I am responsible for my inner space; nobody else is, just as I am responsible for the planet. I don’t purposefully throw trash around polluting our earth. Why should I throw my negativity around, affecting others’ energy? So what do I do to change this? He explains that once a mind pattern, an emotion, or reaction is there, you must accept it. When I accept resentment, moodiness, anger, and so on, I am no longer “forced” to act them out blindly and project them onto others. True acceptance would transform these feelings at once. However, you can’t trick yourself, if you don’t really believe that everything is okay, the old mental-emotional patterns of resistance are still in place. To complain is non-acceptance of what is. So change the situation by taking action or by speaking out if necessary or possible; leave the situation or accept it. Accept the consequences and drop the negativity. This can be tough because it feels like I don’t have any control over some situations yet if I just remove myself or accept it. However, I do have control. I can control how I respond to every situation I am put into. Surrender is not weakness; there is a great strength in it because it can set you free.
CHAPTER 5: THE STATE OF PRESENCE
Wow! A few weeks in and I realized that even though there’s so much great info in this book that I want to share, I cannot keep up with writing these long journal entries for each chapter. Everything about this book makes sense but since it’s not yet a habit I have to be continually conscious otherwise my mind immediately wanders to other things. I think this is one of those books that I will keep going back to throughout my life. Everything sounds great but when it comes to doing it, that’s the tough part, well for me anyways. Presence is needed to become aware of the beauty. Tolle states that, “Mind can neither recognize nor create beauty.” That many people are so imprisoned in their minds that the beauty of nature does not really exist for them. The time that I feel the most aware, the most connected to my soul is in nature. When I’m hiking by myself, I’m the most aware. I notice the vibrant green of the moss on the rocks, the different colors and smells of the flowers, the sounds around me, my mind is free. This makes me long for summer! My worries from the day melt away and life seems simple and sweet even if just for a moment. I do wish I could look at everything that way but emotions are a hard thing to shake. The book says it is ok to acknowledge these emotions but to feel them in complete presence and to not let them take control. I have reacted in the same ways when I’m presented with something that causes anger, sadness, disappointment, and fear. This is a tough habit to break but life would be so much sweeter if I could just acknowledge and accept these emotions and move on. Sometimes they can get hold of me for days. This is something I would like to change and will work on.
CHAPTER 6: THE INNER BODY
“Open your eyes and see the fear, the despair, the greed, and the violence that are all-pervasive. See the heinous cruelty and suffering on an unimaginable scale that humans have inflicted and continue to inflict on each other as well as on the other life forms on the planet. You don’t need to condemn. Just observe. That is sin. That is insanity. That is unconsciousness.” This statement hit home for me. If we weren’t so focused on the regrets and grudges of the past, there wouldn’t be so much hostility. If weren’t so worried about the successes/plans of the future, we wouldn’t forget to stop and enjoy the beauty in “today.” We wouldn’t be scared of tomorrow because of what happened yesterday. We wouldn’t focus on the future for things to get better if knew we only had today to make a change. To just be and to enjoy the moment is the true beauty of life, to not be controlled by all of the “mind stuff.” The more consciousness we direct into the inner body, the higher its vibrational frequency becomes. At this higher energy level, negativity cannot affect us anymore, and we tend to attract new circumstances that reflect this higher frequency. We won’t lose ourselves in the external world, and we won’t lose ourselves in our mind. Thoughts and emotions, fears and desires, may still be there to some extent, but they won’t take us over. It’s easy to think about how we’ll react next time we are faced with something that causes these emotions but we learned the script in our heads a long time ago. The conditioning of our minds will dictate our thinking and behavior. This is especially true when something “goes wrong.” The conditioned response will then be involuntary, automatic, and predictable. So Tolle suggests that when such challenges come, as they always do, make it a habit to go within at once and focus on the inner energy field of the body. This has to be done right away though, because with any delay, all those conditioned mental-emotional reactions will arise and take over. Easier said than done, but I believe it would be a tremendous improvement if I could work on this one thing. Sometimes those emotions feel so strong, so threatening…I can’t help but react. It’s almost as to protect myself, but is that really what I am doing? Letting those emotions take over usually causes more damage than good. It is still ok to observe the emotion, feel it fully and acknowledge and accept it as it is. Actually, I feel it is important to understand what emotion is surging through me but to not let it have control is even more important. If we do let them have that control, these emotions can survive in us for day or even weeks, months, or years. Just like a parasite that can live inside us, feed on our energy, lead to physical illness, and make our lives miserable, so can some emotions. If these emotions such as blame, self-pity, or resentment are living inside us, that means we haven’t forgiven. This non-forgiveness could be towards our self or others. Forgiveness is to let go of these grievance emotions that cause no purpose except to strengthen a false sense of self. Forgiveness is to offer no resistance to life-to allow life to live through us. The alternatives are pain and suffering. The moment we truly forgive, is the moment we have reclaimed our power from the mind. The mind cannot forgive. Only we can. Jesus said, “Before you enter the temple, forgive.” Right now, in this moment, look inside. Are there any lingering feelings of resentment, blame, or self-pity? Let go of these. Forgive.