Sitting here on a quiet Monday morning in west Texas, waiting for the camper’s hot water heater to warm my tiny shower in my tiny bathroom, waiting for everyone else to wake up so we can get on the road to Dallas.
I’m looking forward to visiting my brother and his family in Dallas. I only see them a couple times a year. And then, after our visit, I’m really looking forward to getting home.
I’m reading The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle, which has tipped me off to the secret of happiness: live in the present moment and realize the power of now. Tolle warns against living in the past or the future, since those are the places pain and fear exist (think: guilt, regret, resentment, grievances, sadness, bitterness, and non-forgiveness in regards to the past and unease, anxiety, tension, stress, and worry about the future).
He also warns against thinking too much, since thoughts can churn up pain from the past and worry for the future. Instead of thinking so much, we should simply BE more, feeling our presence and the presence of the entire beautiful web of the Universe. This is true enlightenment.
“The word enlightenment conjures up the idea of some super-human accomplishment, and the ego likes to keep it that way, but it is simply your natural state of felt oneness with Being. It is a state of connectedness with something immeasurable and indestructible, something that, almost paradoxically, is essentially you and yet is much greater than you. It is finding your true nature beyond name and form. The inability to feel this connectedness gives rise to the illusion of separation, from yourself and the world around you. You then perceive yourself, consciously or unconsciously, as an isolated fragment. Fear arises, and conflict within and without becomes the norm.” — Eckhart Tolle
The Power of Now is not easy to read since Tolle’s teachings are so counter-cultural and so opposite of everything I’ve learned about how to think and feel. I live in the past and the future all the time! I forget to enjoy the present moment just about every moment! And so I am reading rather sheepishly but voraciously, trying to discover another truth that will help me weave together the secret of life.
And Eckhart Tolle, of course, is not the only author and spiritual teacher who is making the point that living in the moment is the way to happiness. Many of the great teachers throughout history have pointed this out.
Thich Nhat Hanh tells us:
“Most of the time, we think too much, and mindful breathing helps us to be calm, relaxed, and peaceful. It helps us stop thinking so much and stop being possessed by sorrows of the past and worries about the future. It enables us to be in touch with life, which is wonderful in the present moment.”
And Jesus gives us the same message, although we often skim over this part in the Bible:
“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough troubles of its own.”
I think of all those times I’ve experienced pure joy:
- holding my newborn child for the first time
- pushing myself past the limit in a workout
- listening to a favorite song on the radio
- hugging my husband
- a sky like an artist’s canvas
- being inspired by a charismatic speaker
- getting to the tear-jerking part of a wonderful movie
- dancing with abandon in my living room with my kids
Each of these experiences is an example of living in the moment. In each example, I become completely ego-less and uninhibited. I’m not thinking at these times but instead merely being, existing completely in the present moment with no thought about the past or the future. These are times of unadulterated joy.
So today my challenge–and yours–is to find those many moments throughout the day when pure joy is accessible. I have a feeling I’ll be listening more deeply, enjoying people more thoroughly, and appreciating beauty more often. And loving my life in a way I should have been all along.
What moments give you the greatest joy?