Let’s forget about Oprah and self-help as a collective genre and consider the text for exactly what it is: brilliant, thought provoking, life-changing. It seems that this book was waiting for me, for just the right moment when I was ready for the material, and I am glad beyond words.
At some point, I borrowed The Power of Now from my mother, but it had been sitting on my shelf for months and months until this past weekend. Something happened to make me stop and think: the way I’m handling my current situation is all wrong. I need help. And, by current situation, I mean intense creative and personal frustration. After months of aggravation, it suddenly dawned on me that I was fighting the situation much too hard, but I just couldn’t let go. Choosing to let go is unbelievably hard to do; but, the relief and peace it brings is indescribable. Everyday is a choice to let go or live in tension, fighting what is, sort of like trying to argue why 2+2 does not equal 4. It’s enough to make a person go crazy.
Tolle’s vocabulary is so clear and accessible, I feel compelled to share a few of my favourite excerpts, which became great sources of release for me:
Your physical energy is also subject to cycles. It cannot always be at a peak. There will be times of low as well as high energy. There will be periods when you are highly active and creative, but there may also be times when everything seems stagnant, when it seems that you are not getting anywhere, not achieving anything. A cycle can last for anything from a few hours to a few years. There are large cycles and small cycles within these large ones. Many illnesses are created through fighting against the cycles of low energy, which are vital for regeneration. The compulsion to do, and the tendency to derive your sense of self-worth and identity from external factors such as achievement, is an inevitable illusion as long as you are identified with the mind. This makes it hard or impossible for you to accept the low cycles and allow them to be. Thus, the intelligence of the organism may take over as a self-protective measure and create illness in order to force you to stop, so that the necessary regeneration can take place.
When I read this, though it’s on page 155, I shook with agreement and sudden understanding. The entire book is full of moments like this, when everything you’ve ever experienced suddenly makes sense because you’re looking at it from a new, non-judgemental perspective.
Here’s another one that I loved:
Surrender is a purely inner phenomenon. It does not mean that on the outer level you cannot take action and change the situation. In fact, it is not the overall situation that you need to accept when you surrender, but just the tiny segment called the Now.
And one more:
Surrender is perfectly compatible with taking action, initiating change or achieving goals. But in the surrendered state a totally different energy, a different quality, flows into your doing. Surrender reconnects you with the source-energy of Being, and if your doing is infused with Being, it becomes a joyful celebration of life energy that takes you more deeply into the Now. Through nonresistance, the quality of your consciousness and, therefore, the quality of whatever you are doing or creating is enhanced measurably. The results will then look after themselves and reflect that quality. We could call this “surrendered action.” It is not work as we have known it for thousands of years. As more humans awaken, the word work is going to disappear from our vocabulary, and perhaps a new word will be created to replace it.
Reading the methods and philosophy Tolle describes are like coming home, like a part of me recognizes the innate truth in his words. That doesn’t mean it’s not difficult to implement, but I am completely willing to try, because I’ve already been able to catch a glimpse of this peace he so eloquently describes, and I love it, and I love knowing that I can access that stillness if I really want to.
The most freeing shift has been my obsession with waiting: waiting for something interesting to happen, for someone incredible to enter my life, to experience something extraordinary, to make more money, to achieve something “great.”
The big secret? We are not waiting for the future. We are living NOW. Every moment, every breath, every inconvenience.
And what a relief it is.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this book. I’m inclined to argue, peacefully of course, that Tolle’s masterpiece defies self-help as a genre, and perhaps labeling a book by genre does it a disservice. Have you read any eye-opening texts lately?