The Power of Now - Eckhart Tolle

The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle has become a worldwide phenomenon, praised by Oprah, recommended by thousands. Like any book on spirituality and self help, it has the potential to help some people - and just won't be appropriate for others. We all have different mindsets, different stages of life and different backgrounds. A technique which works well for one person might completely miss the boat for another.

In essence, Eckhart's message is to focus on what you are doing NOW. Don't spend all your energy complaining about a past that you can't change. Don't worry nervously for months and months about a future problem. Find ways to either -

* Get a drama out of your life
* Work on the drama situation to make it better
* Accept the drama situation as an OK part of your world

I'm sure most people would understand and wholeheartedly agree with the first two. The problem usually comes with item #3. How can you accept something as OK? What if your spouse is berating you? What if your boss is publicly humiliating you?

The key is Eckhart is not saying to APPROVE of it. He is saying to not allow your internal stress levels and health to be damaged. Don't lash out with an unconscious reaction which will typically make things worse. Instead, take a deep breath and accept that things are - momentarily - the way they are. Then take a rational step to make progress.

So let's say your neighbor's car alarm is screeching. You could get yourself all wound up about it. This doesn't solve the problem, and it damages you. The car alarm doesn't care you are upset. Instead, accept, for this very moment, that the alarm will go until it ends. With that knowledge, seek a solution. Turn on a white noise generator. Write a letter to leave on the guy's car asking him not to push the button to lock his car - to use the manual lock instead. Maybe longer term if you are somewhere very noisy and you seek peace, look into researching a new apartment you can afford.

Many of us in modern times walk around with "static" in our heads - worries about the future, hostilities about situations in our past. It doesn't matter in a way if these are "justified" thoughts or not. The issue is how they eternally eat away at our calm, how the hormones damage our systems. If instead we walked around calm and content, we could then handle any future issues or situations much more easily.

You are not *resigning* yourself to a bad situation. You are saying "Yes, I accept I am in a bad situation. Now to find a solution."

Yes, Eckhart goes over the same idea several different times, in several different scenarios. This is really typical for a book of this type, because we all react to certain ways of hearing something. Some people might "get it" with the first phrasing. Others might completely miss out on that one but get it when phrased a different way. That's why reading through the entire book is important - and also while re-reading the book can be really helpful. It's like learning multiplication. Sometimes it's the second or third pass where something clicks.

Could there be people out there for whom this book makes no sense? Certainly!! I could try to learn golf from four different instructors and not get the hang of it from the first three - and then suddenly the fourth instructor "clicks" for me and I get it. Books are like that too. I think this book is VERY well written, but definitely some people will not like it. That's fine, I'm sure there are other books out there better suited for them.

Now, that being said, is the book perfect? No. I had several issues with it. He talks about how tranquilizers and antidepressents "shield us" from obviously insane minds. The drugs "simply keep you stuck in dysfunction." For me this gets *dangerously* close to Tom Cruise's rants against post partum depression. Sometimes the chemistry of the mind means you *need* help to get the hormones and chemicals in it balanced. Eckhart shouldn't be saying that they are inappropriate! To me that's like telling a person who has lost a leg in Iraq to just get used to hopping around, instead of using a crutch.

Eckhart also talks about, as you become more conscious, that your body's molecular structure gets less dense. I really don't think your body is losing molecules - or getting larger - as you become more conscious. Either one or the other would have to be true. He says your body "ages more slowly" but then says as his proof to try it and see. Now you *could* say that when you remove stress hormones and tension from your body that it becomes more healthy, but that is different than aging more slowly. I suppose I would say more accurately that your body is damaged less quickly.

Eckhart also goes overboard on some of his "end of the world" statements. He talks about how our society needs to learn these things quickly or we're all going to self destruct. He says that modern relationships are the most harmful that ever have been. Has he read how women and children were routinely beaten a few centuries ago? Yes, some of that still goes on now - but it is FAR less than it used to be. If anything, we have a far higher expectation of respect for children and women than we ever have. Yes, we have a far way to go still, but it is better.

His male-female statements are a bit suspect. The mind is male because it "manipulates and tries to possess". I know plenty of women who thrive on manipulation, who love to possess things. The book would have been just as helpful without some of those sexist comments.

In general, if you know to be mindful and aware when you read the book, and don't take every single word as gospel, I definitely feel this is a great "directional book" to get people on the right path. Its use of examples, its question and answer format really does help. Several of the questions were exactly the ones I had in my own head.

Highly recommended.

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