Do you ever find yourself trying to escape the present? Rather than concentrating on what you are doing at this very moment, are you listing off the hundred things you have to do in the future? Or worrying about the past instead?
Eckhart Tolle’s “The Power of Now” was first published in the 1990s and has since become an international bestseller particularly following the endorsement from Oprah Winfrey that it can “transform your thinking… (and provide) more joy, right now”.
The book discusses how we should only live in the present moment and not worry about the past or future, which will lead us to enlightenment.
Many of us have a tendency to overthink and listen to the voices inside our heads. According to Tolle, 80-90% of most people’s thinking is repetitive and useless, and because it is dysfunctional and negative, it is also harmful. Too much focus on the future causes many of us to feel stress and tension, and we worry about what is to come. In addition, when we dwell on the past, we often experience feelings of guilt, regret, grievance and sadness. Tolle urges his readers to not overthink the past and future, if we do not want to be in a state of worry.
I particularly like Tolle’s emphasis throughout his book on ego. He suggests that many of us let our ego rule our lives, which takes over our thoughts and behaviours, and has a negative effect on our happiness. For the ego, the present hardly exists. It aims to keep the past alive so you know who you are, and projects into the future to ensure its survival. Tolle also suggests that many people consider themselves as victims, and let the pain they have experienced take over them. For these people, their whole identity is defined by their problems or suffering. They blame others for who they are now, yet their pain is only caused by themselves. In addition, Tolle offers steps on how to meditate and relax and advice on relationships. The book references spirituality but does not focus on one religion.
Given the complexity of the topics covered, it is a relief that the book is written in question and answer format based on the most frequently asked questions of the author. It is intense and heavy at times so the audio version may be more preferable to some people. But not Paris Hilton, who took a hard copy with her to prison.
The Power of Now has been life-changing for many, and could be for you too.