When we are experiencing difficult feelings, like anxiety or depression for example, it can be very easy to feel overwhelmed and helpless. What if you were able to take control back for yourself?
Eckhart Tolle is a spiritual teacher who now lives in Canada and is most known for writing the book ‘The Power of Now’. In his book Tolle suggests that emotional disturbances are a result of over identification with either the past or the future. This concept draws on the psychological theory of the Ego, and how it uses impressions of the future and past to construct the view of the world. When we identify with the Past feelings of anger, resentment and depression arise, and when we identify with the future feelings of worry, anxiety and stress occur. Tolle describes this process of linear thinking as ‘Psychological Time’ where over thinking about past or future events means that we exclude what really matters, ‘now’. After all, it is suggested, all we really have is ‘now’. Neither the past nor the future truly exists as the Past is only a memory, and the Future is purely conceptual. The only certainty that we have is ‘now’, this very moment. Achieving ‘enlightenment’ is attributed to living in the ‘now’.
The concept of ‘Now’ is very similar to the theory of ‘Mindfulness’ in its approach; bringing to your conscious attention what is happening with your body right now, what is happening with your emotions right now and looking at those processes without judgment or analysis. By bringing these to your conscious awareness you are able to take away any power they may have over you.
Why is this useful to practice?
You don’t have to be searching for ‘enlightenment’ to be able to find these concepts of use. Many of our negative feelings and experiences can be nullified by simply accepting that they are there and bringing them to your conscious awareness, as in the practice described above.
For example, if you are feeling anxious it may be possible to use this technique to accept the anxious thoughts and physical feelings, and to realise that they are not necessarily relevant to the reality of the present moment. This process can take some practice as it can be quite uncomfortable to accept these feelings without judgement and also without analysing them. With practice however, it can feel very empowering to be able to free yourself from certain feelings that have been present for a long period of time.