“Put your thoughts to sleep, do not let them cast a shadow
over the moon of your heart. Let go of thinking.” ―
Stop Fighting Reality
Stillness Speaks (Eckhart Tolle) teaches that when we connect to the stillness within, we transcend, we overcome the habitually active bodymind to discover another order of reality completely. We light upon peace and serenity at the core of this reality. One of the greatest blocks to experiencing stillness is our tendency to fight against reality, to have opinions about what should and shouldn’t be happening. Eckhart says: “The greatest difficulty is the mental resistance to things that arise, and the underlying assumption that they should not.”
By mentally resisting reality we have built a great prison of our minds and hearts. Resistance comes from clinging to stories that the mind (ego) has spun about past events. The ego can never fully perceive anything as it is now. It filters all experience through its historical understanding and so taints the present. It brings forth from its memory banks remembered ‘knowledge’ which is only biased and conditioned ideas, opinions, judgements and beliefs and imposes them on either the future or whatever you are experiencing in the present moment. This completely distorts reality and renders it impossible for you to experience directly the true nature of what is really happening moment by moment. This habit of mind causes endless suffering.
There is an antidote. Suffering is alleviated when these automatic habits of mind and heart are unlearned, uncoupled from memory (what was) and desires (what ought to be) and replaced with open, non-evaluating attention to what is now. This means not looking at life as if you’ve seen it all before. It means not arguing with life as it unfolds. It means getting behind your present experience with all your focus and energy. So be fully open to it, climb aboard it with no judgment and no demands that anything be different than it is. When you do, you get past all your stories; you empower yourself to truly engage with your life and the people in it from an innocent, not knowing place that doesn’t judge and doesn’t resist what is presenting itself in reality:
“I can be very content and get positive feedback from others if I am ‘in the moment’ and meeting people where they are. I used to pre-judge people and was reluctant to assist people who don’t ‘deserve’ it. How my awareness has grown” (N.Y., client).
Awareness grows as you surrender to present experience or Presence. In addition to freeing you from the past, being in the moment releases you from future worries:
“I’ve learned how to surrender to and “be in” the moment of instead of planning. (E.W., client)
Being and responding in the moment engages the authentic you as opposed to the re-presentation of you, the rehashed self-image that you present to the world:
“Aha moments have become a constant reminder of being authentic in the present moment”. (S.D., client)
Client F.L. has learned to surrender to ‘what is’ and with it gains the power that comes with not resisting reality:
“I now am aware that there is another much more powerful place for me. And at the same time I feel I don’t want to put up an act that everything is always easy and joyous in my life. It is about the awareness of feeling what is real and having the attitude of wanting to be with exactly that – with what is”. (F.L., client)
Surrender means giving up control:
“Shift in control from needing to keep hold of everything to allowing things to be, knowing that whatever happens I can deal with it.” (S.B., client)
The next extract reflects the excitement of a man in his sixties who has learned for the first time in his life to concentrate on the present rather than the past or future:
“I’ve spent all my life thinking about then (past and future) and never appreciated the pivotal role of NOW. It works – I’ve tried it!” (R.B., client)
The NOW is a dimension of reality that can be experienced only when you let go of the ego mind and stay present and open to life. Presence is like a state of meditation. You don’t need to be sitting cross-legged on your cushion to have a still mind, to be present and alive to what’s happening now. For client L.H., the outcome of stilling the mind means that:
“Perception crumbles and is replaced by something clearer and more real” (L.H., client)
1. Put all your attention and energy into living in a state of beginner’s mind, a state of innocence. At the deepest level act like you are seeing, hearing, tasting, touching and smelling for the very first time. Try eating just one mouthful of your next meal in full presence. Try walking through the park, being fully present with each flower and each tree. Look into the eyes of a loved one as if truly seeing them for the first time. Try being fully present with your children or your friends even if it is just for a few moments. You can’t live in the world like this all the time. But spending some of each day in a state of innocence and Presence will open up your awareness to the sacredness of life. This in turn will transform you. You will begin to remember who you are. You will begin to have a taste of Heaven on Earth. (These ideas are taken from Leonard Jacobson).
2. Some people like to sit regularly in meditation and be in the now of their experience. Others prefer to be mindful, or present as they go about their day. Some like a mixture of both. Experiment by surrendering your ego in both situations and feel the difference between a life lived in the conditioned mind, i.e. the past and one lived in the joyful reality of the present moment.