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The sky is gray and sprinkling rain.  It’s not what you’d call chilly, exactly, and yet I feel it in my bones.  The dampness has set in.  I have nothing in particular to feel badly about, except maybe the weather.  But I am fussing and picking at everything! Things that usually slip off me like fine silk are rubbing me the wrong way.  I can’t stand the way he does that!  Why does she always do that me? It’s the kind of day where I might spill cottage cheese all down my shirt and then be really upset with myself, too.  I feel like I really, really just want to be somewhere else!

This, it would seem, is exactly the state of mind Eckhart Tolle says produces no choice. It was not my choice to stub my toe, I shout!  But I can tell my head is full of other things and I just walked right into that chair.

It’s a very intriguing concept to me.  This having no choice. I have long believed we make our own choices.  We are co-creators of our own lives.  How can this be that I have no choice?

But it makes a lot of sense, when you think about it.  Perhaps it brings some relief to say, I didn’t consciously choose to lose my best friend. I can see that when I’m all tangled up in the stuff in my head, it’s not easy to be making real choices.  I can’t even control my thoughts.  You wouldn’t really say that you chose to break your arm.  Maybe you needed it to slow down and face some other things.  But that was not your conscious choice. Your head was probably buzzing with complaints, past dredging or future dreaming.  When you get right down to it, if you’re not in the present moment, truly aware of what’s going on, you really do have no choice.  Yikes!  But it answers a lot of questions when you realize there are things in your life you didn’t consciously create.

And that’s just the problem:  we are not conscious.  How can we expect to make good, healthy choices for ourselves when we’re wrapped up in repetitive, unconscious thinking?

Noticing that this is happening is clearly the first step.  Then I stop, notice my breath and try to feel my body.  A good way in is to note how your body is:  are your shoulders up?  Tightness in your back?  What’s going on in your body?  That immediately brings you out of the nasty chatter in your head.  Like taking a shower allows insights to arise.  The funny thing is that being out of your head is the best place to be for good conscious, real choices.

Once I’ve gotten in touch with my body, I feel I have some control.  I can dig deeper to the feelings under the physical sensations.  That is where the true answers lie, where the guidance is found.

All of sudden, from that place, I can say to myself, Joe didn’t mean to do that.  He doesn’t really do it all the time.  He may just be tired.  Like I am.  I didn’t get enough sleep last night. That’s why I’m so cranky.  I may be back in my head, but I’m feeling a lot gentler now.  I’m directing and choosing my thoughts.  Choosing to have kinder and more loving thoughts.

Then I notice I do have a choice how I’m thinking and feeling.  And lo and behold, the sun has come out!

“You don’t have to make anything happen.  Just align yourself with what wants to happen and let it.” – Alan Cohen

Alan Cohen always gets me thinking with his simple prescriptions of ease.  I like this one especially. It seems to capture so much.

I am intrigued by this notion of “aligning’” myself with what wants to happen.  How do you do that?  I had a thought that it’s kind of like putting yourself in glory’s way.  Why put yourself in harm’s way when you can step into a spot where good things can get you?

There’s also the job searching/networking theory of putting yourself out there.  I guess that’s good for a lot of things.  If you want something good to happen to you, it’s a little foolish to hide out at home, talking to no one.  It simply can’t find you.

Maybe it’s about flowing with life.  Letting go of the resistance and allowing it to happen, to come into your life.  Alan asks us to let it happen in the second part, but maybe it’s in the moving piece too, the lining up.  Makes sense that there’s a certain amount of letting go involved in getting in line.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this Resistance thing. Eckhart Tolle says it’s the ego trying to protect itself. Resistance causes blockage and dis-ease. (Doesn’t sound like a clear flow to me.)  I’ve always been taught to fight through resistance.  But I’m getting the message lately that it’s better to accept it. The tides of my life are trying to flow in a different way than how I’m going. That is Resistance.  If I let myself move where life wants to take me, perhaps I will align myself with what wants to happen.

I just love the ease in this.  It’s about surrender which – though I can’t say I practice as well as I’d like –  I do believe in.  It’s that softer touch, going with the flow.  Acceptance of what is going on is the only sane way to live. Anything else is useless, and perhaps bordering on madness. We haven’t yet figured out how to bend space.  You can exert effort, but you are not often enough to change the course of things.  You can only affect its path a little.

Perhaps it’s a daily practice.  Aligning day in and day out.  Trusting, sort of sitting back and watching life happen.  After all, we’re all conscious and aware.  We’ve set intentions. We can trust in that.  Making choices in the now, accepting and aligning with what is happening in front of us.

In SARK’s recent newsletter, she talked about how taking good care of yourself is more than just deep tissue massages and healthy foods.  The heart of taking good care is in speaking kindly to yourself. I believe that if most of us took a moment to listen to the chatter in our heads, we’d find an endless stream of criticisms and corrections.

Esther and Jerry Hicks have a process they call “segment intending” where you stop and decide what you’re after with each segment of your day.  I’m borrowing that concept by segmenting my day and then asking how I’m doing.  Eckhart Tolle suggested the question.  If the thoughts or feelings I find are not to my liking, I rattle off a few of my favorite things:  a summer breeze, watching a great film, listening to Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell, crackling fires, a perfect cup of tea.  I’m calling it Segment Check-ins.

I try to set these segments up ahead of time, based on how my day unfolds.  Like, when I’m putting on my jewelry in the morning and when I’m taking it off at night, just before I get ready to drive, when I get into work and settle in, before lunch, etc.  I just take a breath and notice how I’m doing. 

In this way I’m practicing present moment awareness.  I’m also filing my head with good thoughts and improving my mood. 

Sometimes it’s just a matter of slowing down a bit, taking a breath.  I give myself permission to toss out any thoughts that I can’t do anything about right now.  Either there’s an action I need to take now, or there isn’t.  If there’s something I need to do later, I just put it aside.  As Eckhart Tolle says:  there’s nothing you can’t handle right now. When I narrow it down to just those things I can do right now, I feel calmer.  If I can do it now, I do. If not, I dance around in my faves and lighten my day.

Slowly making my way through Eckhart Tolle’s “The Power of Now.”  Just reading it does something to me, puts me in the present moment, maybe.  But I always feel better after reading.  It also gets me thinking.

He was talking about waiting.  Or more accurately, not waiting.  He said that people who are present minded are never waiting.  They are just being.

Last Friday I left work early, unexpectedly.  I thought I might stop at my mechanic’s so he could listen to the odd sound the car was making.  I figured, 15 minutes, in and out, and was busy planning what else I could do with this found time.  Turned out it was the rear brakes.  And rather than go through the hassle of trying to figure another time to bring in the car, and with no particular place to go, I said, go for it.

So, I settled in with a couple books, some fresh paper and a pen and easily entertained myself for the 2 hours he promised it would take.  But two hours later, I watched 3:00 come and go and still the car was up on the lift.  I started to feel antsy and bored with what I was doing.  I became aware of how chilly it was in the waiting room and how stiff the chair.  I kept having visions of the next stop, where I could be warm and have a cup of tea . . . I was calm and easy before, now I was stressed, uncomfortable and having a hard time sitting still.

Why not try Eckhart Tolle’s method?  I felt myself sitting in the chair, here and now.  I allowed myself to accept the fact that I was there and until they finished the job, I wasn’t going anywhere.  I let go of thoughts of the next stop and focused on where I was.  I consciously felt my muscles relax and sink into the chair.  Almost as soon as I did that the anxious waiting feeling disappeared and I even felt a little warmer.  The rest of the time passed quickly and I was in a good mood when it was time to pay the bill.  The mechanic thanked me for waiting, but I didn’t feel like that at all!

Now, Mr. Tolle is clear to say that there is small scale waiting, like this one, and there is large scale waiting like waiting for a new job, mate or home.  I don’t know if I could be as successful with that kind of waiting, but if I practice on these small ones, it might be a lot easier to wait for the big things.

For something so hard to hold, Time certainly is powerful!

I’ve been reading “The Power of Now” again. Eckhart Tolle has much to say on the subject of Time and I’m still early in the book.  He talks of how we get caught up in psychological time.  Though we might have to live within “clock” time, we take it way too far.

Time claws at me from behind, reminding me of all the time I’ve wasted.  And it cackles from the future, taunting me to move faster.  Time is always there to demand I go there, or do this.  What exactly am I doing with my time?  I would venture to say Time is at the heart of most stress.  It’s so hard to make it do what you want.

So, how do we step aside and let time tick by without being so attached to it?

Perhaps, like most things, it‘s about controlling the thoughts.  It’s not really time’s fault, after all.  You can’t blame the clock. The time is what we’ve decided it is:  2:47 pm, Eastern Standard Time. But it’s all the thoughts that gather around it which cause such stress and angst.  The judgments that can spew forth!

I wonder if I can practice releasing the thoughts, the stress, the anxiety about time?  At the moment it’s literally hours before I have to note the time.  Can’t I just let go and be in the now?  At least for the next few hours? 

It feels almost impossible to escape it. I have had fantasies about going to sleep when I’m tired, getting up when I’m rested, eating when I feel hungry. Instead of being such a slave to the clock.  Even at times in my life when I could do that (with no particular place to go and no particular time to be there) I still couldn’t do it.  I can’t even do the “it’s 5:00 somewhere” game.  I’m just so locked into the structure of time (except for a fondness for having breakfast for dinner).

I know well the value and peace, as well as all that can be done in the now.  That means gaining control over my addiction to psychological time.

Stay tuned ~

A friend of mine said, “I have a book you might like. I got to page 12 or something and just didn’t like it.” I already own it, but it got me to thinking . . .

The Power of Now is one of the most powerful and important books I’ve read. Perhaps one of the most influential books of the last 10 years. I put it up there with “The Law of Attraction” / “The Secret,” “Conversations with God,” maybe even “A Course in Miracles.” Like “The Course,” it attempts to explain what may be simple in practice, but very difficult to comprehend. The Power of Now uses the question and answer format to try to contain these large concepts in a vessel that can more easily pour out small amounts.

Mr. Tolle tries to explain to other minds what can’t be fully understood with the mind. It’s not housed comfortably in the brain. It has to be felt in the bones. Like the elusive meaning of what it feels like to be in love, experience happiness, or after love-making.

These are Huge Concepts. I have read, studied and discussed the power in the now at length. With some familiarity, this book still fills my brain to the point of overload. It reminds me of when I was reading “Conversations with God III” about God, the Universe and Everything. Trying to comprehend the immensity of the Universe, images well beyond my usual view, when someone would say, “Can you move your car?” or even, “Isn’t it a lovely day?” I had trouble shifting perspective.

There is an amazing amount of power in the now. It’s not easy to hold it all. Marianne Williamson, in her brilliant book, “A Return to Love,” infused the principles in “A Course in Miracles” and brought them down to concrete, modern words. The Power of Now could use that. I would suggest to my friend, and anyone else who has trouble with this book, to read it in small bits. Like a Daily Reading or when you have a sit-down in the bathroom.

I read the book a second time and got even more out of it. Now I poke in wherever it opens. And every time I do, reading even a paragraph of it, I feel more powerful and at ease. Like a magic pill that offers instant relief from the ravages of Time. When you get stuck in that volley between questioning your past and trying to get a hold on your future, reading from this book makes you aware of a sudden hush. The fog clears and you see what is really going on around you. As if life has slowed down, so you can get a better look. In that moment you can feel more intensely and hear more acutely what is being whispered in your head all the time: The Truth that it is a Loving Universe and this is what Love would do right now. You see the world just exactly as it is. Not haunted by the past or striving for the future, unfettered, you can make clear and effective decisions.

I appreciate Eckhart’s efforts to explain why it’s so easy to slip out of that place of equanimity and power in the now. That pesky ego needs so much, and sees this place of trust as a threat to its very existence and constantly tries to pull you out of it. Tolle uses text from the Buddha, The Bible, the Sufis and others to show how many ways this message has been delivered through the centuries.

I get glimpses of the power of now and then I’m tossed back into the arena, getting batted back and forth again. My ego proving that life can’t be like that. But I figure, the more time I spend in the now, the more I practice being there, the more I will be there and someday, it will be my dominant state of awareness.

Will all my problems go away? Not likely. Will I see my problems differently? Absolutely. Will I know what to do to solve them? Probably have a much better idea.

This book isn’t easy to get through. But it is worth every moment.

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