Research Paper by Rajat Tewari
(Leadership Coach, INDIA)
The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
Eckhart Tolle wrote the Power of Now in 1999 and it has gone ahead to be a best seller over the years. The book has brought an amazing clarity into our relationship with our minds, the pain body, and moving into the now or the present.
Eckhart starts the book by explaining the fundamental point that….
we are not our minds.
The key point here is that we are essentially a consciousness, which is infintely broader, larger and deeper than the mind. This could be called the “ Being”. Our real purpose in life is for our consciousness to get aware of itself, and is equivalent to “ self realization” or “ enlightenment”.
This “ individual consciousness” is an inseparable extension of the large universal consciousness which could also be called “God” if we stripped it down of all the rituals, beliefs etc of various religions
Our consciousness has lost awareness of itself because it has identified fully with the mind. The mind is a powerful tool, which should be used discreetly and with discipline by the consciousness. Instead, the consciousness is allowing the mind to run along with out any control. This could be similar to a rider on a horse, who has given up control to the horse, which is moving in any direction it pleases.
The mind has created and sustains the story of the Ego, which is essentially the accumulation of all the memories of relative experience.
Thus the story which goes,
I am Rajat Tewari, was born in India, had loving parents and a happy childhood, and used to go to a local school which did not have very good teachers ……… and so on.
The memories are not the absolute truth, as they are one person’s relative perception of a situation. So it is essentially a “ partially true story”. The Ego is the sum total of this ghost identity which is sum total of all these memories, thoughts and emotions.
While storing and building up the story in its memory, the mind’s primary work is also to help expand the Ego’s story. This expansion happens by adding more and more to the story, in the form of relationships ( marriage, children, friends), objects ( houses, cars, money, etc), intangibles ( knowledge, certificates, learning, growth) etc. For this, the mind jumps to the future, planning activites, envisioning, worrying, anxious and driving for results.
Somewhere at the bottom of the mind, there is a realization that this is just a story, and would eventually stop existing, when we die. This fear is like a shadow looming over the mind, which is constantly running, jumping between past and future and exerting to add to the Ego’s identity, with a shallow delusion that adding material things makes the Ego’s story invincible. As the mind suffers setbacks or enjoys progress, it is subjected to worrying, jealously, anxiety, anger, sadness, excitement, pleasure, lust etc.
The consciousness has fully identified with the Ego’s story and runs with the mind, oscillating continuously between the present and the past, as the mind works feverishly to sustain and expand the story. Thus it suffers with the mind, as it weaves its story and lives with its fears and anxiety.
The consciousness has infinite power to create. If the consciousness focuses on something, it can bring that into physical form in the world. As the consciousness is running with the feverish mind, it creates what the mind focuses on. Thus if the mind is focusing ( or thinking repeatedly) of something fearful or repugnant, it would create that into a physical form. Thus the famous quotation that “ We attract what we fear intensely”. On the positive side, when the mind visualizes something beautiful or positive, it creates that also.
The consciousness becomes aware of itself when the mind is stilled. The mind is like a 10000 MW sound system blaring music. Its impossible to hear oneself talk. When the thoughts stop , the consciousness becomes aware of itself.
A state of self awareness is absolutely free of fear or any other negative emotions. It is also quite free of the opposite “ positive” emotions like pleasure, excitement, expectation, etc. What emerges from a state of self awareness are love, peace and joy.
The best way to quiet the mind and become self aware is to move into the present. Due to the intense mental activity, for us the present is almost non existent. We are always either in the past ( where we are regretting, happy, jealous, nostalgic, imagining things, angry, etc) or in the future ( where we are fearful, anxious, worried, scheming, planning, frustrated etc). These states and emotions are a feast for the mind, which plays with them and thus keeps strengthening the Ego’s story. When we move into the present, the Ego’s story subsides and the mind has nothing to cling on to. The thoughts lose steam and the mind calms down.
As we move into the present, and the mind subsides, a space emerges inside us, which allows intuition, love, peace and joy to emerge. These are infinitely more powerful states and allow us to move into a “ flow “ with life. We bring significantly more energy into what we are doing.
So , how do we move to the present?
To explain briefly, the key points are thus:
Learning to watch our thoughts and emotions. This may sound very difficult but becomes quite simple and easy as we practice. As we look at the working of the mind, the first realization is that the mind is different from our consciousness and it is constantly spinning stories. The mind is either in the past or the present, trying to manage the underlying fear of death, which accompanies the Ego.
Ways to move into the present : This also sounds difficult, but could be done by the following :
- Watching our breath as we inhale and exhale : Just being aware of our breath is a very power ful process of moving into the now. As we move into the now, the mind relaxes and stills itself.
- Focussing on what we are doing : Just focusing what we are doing also helps us come to the present. We become conscious of each small activity we are doing and the mind does not get distracted. Slowly, it subsides and the consciousness moves into a “ flow” with the work.
- Meditation : Meditation is an important way to practice calming of the mind. Please note that during meditation we are not doing anything, i.e any activity or work. So it is not as strong as watching the mind, breath or our feelings, while we are doing something.
Accepting the present : One key reason of the fear and mind’s feverish movement between the future and past is non acceptance of the present. We resist almost everything that happens to us. If we accept it, we move into a state of relaxed acceptance and our action comes out of a space of love, patience and peace.
Being aware of space : When we focus on the space between sounds, visual space and space between our thoughts, we move into a state of stillness. This is opposite of what we usually do, i.e focus on sounds, and objects around us.
Awareness of the pain body : All of us have a pain body, which needs ‘nourishment’ occasionally and demands us to either hurt others or get hurt ourselves. This drives us to fight, insult, demean others in thought, word or action, and prompt others to do the same. If we are aware of the pain body rising in us, we can see it, and that transmutes it into a positive energy.
Awareness of negative emotions and unease: When negative emotions or unease emerge in us (which is happening most of the time), we could either move away from it and not allow it to grow or if it has already grown in us, we experience it in full awareness. Even that is a powerful state. We should not suppress the emotions as that would push us into the realm of the Ego’s story, and machinations of the mind. We need to ask ourselves “ am I at unease now ?” . If yes, then “ what am I not accepting”? Once we are aware of the unease inside ourselves, we should watch it and move through it, experiencing it in full awareness. That would help subside it like a deflated balloon.
Significance for Coaching : Bringing the client into a state of presence can be a very powerful way to help them move into a new perspective, manage negative emotions, challenge saboteurs or limiting beliefs and be more aware of their true values that drive their lives.
It could be done in the following way:
Sensing the emotions of the client and helping him/her go through it: The client comes with mental activity, non acceptance, restricting beliefs and underlying emotions of frustration, helplessness, anger, jealousy, fear etc. Emotions are a powerful indicator of the state of mental activity. The first tendency of any human being is to suppress any negative emotion by taking the mind outwards. This could include addictions, talking, doing work, meeting people or any thing which could distract the mind. The coach should be able to help the client identify the emotion and face it. The process of facing an emotion or thought is to go through it, feel it and help subside it. This is a powerful process for releasing and freeing oneself from that state.
Some questions that could be asked are :
- What are you feeling now?
- Describe the feeling and the thoughts
- How do you feel as you experience the emotion.
- Help the client through an exercise where the client experiences the feeling and goes through it.
Breaking the bond with future and past : The coach can ask powerful questions to the client to help her/him break away from the future and past and come to the present place. These could be :
- What is lacking right now?
- What can you do not to improve on /change the situation.
Acceptance of the present and reducing resistance: The coach can help the client identify what they are resisting and help them accept the present and the past. The powerful questions could be :
- What are you resisting now?
- What could you do to accept what happened in the past and /or what is happening now?
- What do you find good about what is happening?
- How important is the past for the future?
Accepting and then acting : Action usually emerges from resistance to something. This is fundamentally flawed from the perspective of the book. When we accept the present situation and then act, we act free of emotions, past beliefs etc and bring a fresh, empowering approach to the situation. The coach can help the client refine their approach so that they first accept and then act. Some powerful questions could be :
- What is the reason for the action?
- How would you like to approach the present situation?
- What could be a different approach before you start acting?
Power of Now for the Coach:
Deep listening would be critical to understand the waves of emotions and thoughts in the mind of the client. Deep listening requires being in the present and providing a space to the client to talk, feel and expand. Its truly essential for the coach to be in the now ( fully present) to listen, build rapport and ask questions.
Before the coach enters a coaching conversation, he/she should prepare by coming fully into the present. This could be done by using the various tools and techniques described above. Only when the coach is in the present would he do the justice to the conversation and help the client move into a fulfilling space.