“Eckhart Tolle’s book, “The Power of Now” and his latest book, “A New Earth”, has helped me to recognize the difference between pleasures and pure joy. Living in the Now creates a new direction in my life. I tend to get out of balance with my many obsessions and as will often happen, I can start to feel a little blue when I tire of the little pleasures. Pleasures like eating out, watching television and movies, shopping, etc. are usually pleasures that once fulfilled leave us empty and wanting more pleasure. Most times we end up repeating the cycle even when we know it is going to ruin our budget–if not put us in debt–, put our bodies in an unhealthy state. In the end, there is no real joy, and so the vicious rat on a wheel cycle continues.: Seek pleasure, feel pleasure, feel bored, seek pleasure, feel pleasure, feel fear, seek pleasure, feel pleasure, feel blue…on and on we go, where it stops nobody knows until NOW! Literally until we are in the Now, it will never stop.
When I stop seeking pleasure, I decide to sit with my feelings. “Okay, so I feel bored”, I say to myself. No big deal. I sit with it: bored, bored, bored, bored, okay. Truly, it is no big deal when I sit right in it. I then focus on my breathing. I feel the air move into my nostrils–it is cool air , and then I breathe the warm air out of my mouth. I put my awareness in the exercise. A few moments later, something usually shifts. I find myself smiling at the ridiculousness of my “need” to race off and end my “boredom”. The boredom is simply my ego telling me I need to satisfy the bottomless pit ego–which I know isn’t real. When I realize the world doesn’t come to an end when I feel the feeling or sit with the feeling, it clears my mind and opens a new door. I’ve found each time a new door opens I’m led to a place I find real joy.
Many people will not sit with the feelings. It’s easier to grab something to eat, a cigarette, flip on the television, or anything that will stimulate them in some short term way. I would rather make the choice of what I do or eat from an aware state rather than an unconscious state.
When I enter the newly opened door, I discover things about myself that the little ego in me never knew to be true. I do not want to eat out as often as I thought I did. It brings a bit of pleasure, but eventually the pleasure leaves to be replaced by more desire of the ego. Have you ever had the experience of going out to eat, ordering something–usually unhealthy and too large of a portion– spending too much money or more than you have, and afterwards realizing it gave you a little pleasure but now you’re unhappy again?
Ego robs of us of the Now. It takes away quiet walks in a park, it takes away time to care for our body, it keeps us in a constant state of fear and stress. In some lives it robs people of relationships to their children or partners and other loved ones. I’ve often wondered how it is different than being in prison or enslaved by a master who keeps us in a constant state of fear. Yet, we have the key to unlock the door and step through it.
Remember the scene in the movie, “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” where Jack Nicolson’s character discovers that some of the men in the mental hospital have committed themselves and can leave if they want to? They had created this hell for themselves! Once we step out, we feel free. All of the things we want to “someday” start to happen Now.
I want to spend more time in nature. I used to think that meant loading up the vehicle and heading to the mountains. I still do find joy in the mountains, but I’ve also discovered I can find joy in my own backyard. Gardening and raising chickens are the new rooms I’ve discovered through the newly open doors. Sure, I’ve always had a little garden, but now I feel like I can enjoy the gardens. I don’t feel a need for them to be perfect. I don’t feel attached to them. I simply enjoy the experience with them.
Not everybody has a house with space for gardening, but for those people, there will be other awakenings in the moment. My son has a little apartment and it’s amazing to watch the joy he gets from his balcony garden. I do believe nature cuts out a path toward awareness for many people. Although I’m convinced it isn’t about the things outside of us, it comes from within. Seeking joy isn’t the key. Being present is what matters. I find doing yoga in my room keeps me in a state of awareness as well.
Another area of my life being effected is the choice of music I listen to. Keeping in mind, these are my experiences and there is no judgment in what others listen to at all. For me, I have noticed I need to move away from certain forms of music for the time being. I used to love to blast the music up in my vehicle and just zone out along the highway. I now realize it’s the fastest route to opening myself to the pain body. I’m very attached to music, and now I am aware that it isn’t the music–it’s my attachment to certain music or lyrics that take me out of the moment and into the past or future. I had to laugh at the lyrics to a favorite Black Sabbath song I used to love to blare when I wanted an escape:
Finished with my woman ’cause she couldn’t help me with my mind
People think I’m insane because I am frowning all the time
All day long I think of things but nothing seems to satisfy
Think I’ll lose my mind if I don’t find something to pacify
Can you help me, occupy my brain?
I need someone to show me the things in life that I can’t find
I can’t see the things that make true happiness, I must be blind
Make a joke and I will sigh and you will laugh and I will cry
Happiness I cannot feel and love to me is so unreal
And so as you hear these words telling you now of my state
I tell you to enjoy life I wish I could but it’s too late
If the words to this song are not written by a pain body for the pain body, about the pain body, I don’t know what is.
I do enjoy songs written about awareness, like John Denver’s, Sweet Surrender:
Lost and alone on some forgotten highway
Traveled by many remembered by few
Lookin’ for something that I can believe in
Lookin’ for something that I’d like to do with my life
There’s nothin’ behind me and nothin’ that ties me to
Something that might have been true yesterday
Tomorrow is open and right now it seems to be more than enough
To just be here today and I don’t know
I don’t know where I’m goin’ I’m not sure where I’ve been
There’s a spirit that guides me, a light that shines for me
My life is worth the livin’, I don’t need to see the end
Sweet, sweet surrender, live, live without care
Like a fish in the water, like a bird in the air.
Songs like this one seem to speak more to my conscious self. I especially like his reference to staying present and not focusing on the past or future.