The day before flying to India, I discovered Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now. This was just as transformational as the initial spell of mindfulness meditation. Without completely reading the book (until things started getting more spiritual than I was prepared for), Eckhart convinced me that the present moment is always this neutral place where life happens. All our worries and anxieties stem from the past or the future.
This understanding took days/months to dawn and grow on me. But it was deep. This was the foundation of the next big steps in my life. Think of sky diving. You feel scared, you feel those butterflies in your belly until you jump off. But once you are free falling, you are completely in the moment. This is thrill. This is why some people like to live their life on the edge. Life happens in the moment.
Present moment is the only reality. Rest is manifestations of your mind. These manifestations have a place, but when they start getting in the way of you experiencing the present moment, you are living the life in an imaginary world. You are living a life of shoulds, seeking approval, and the real you is hidden underneath the stress and anxiety you are holding on to.
I soon extended this to everything I did. Pay attention to something in the present moment, doesn’t have to be your breath. Stage fright becomes less and less. Spontaneity grows. Conversations become natural. Sex becomes more subtle, food tastes more subtle, you can read people way better. Compassion becomes more natural as you get out of your head and notice what is really out there.
Seeking approval becomes history, as you become a natural who does things because you instinctively want to do it. The mind still has a place but it is not the center stage.
I come back to Seattle in love with life. And I discover a whole series of things to do. I meet this girl, who was into MMA (Mixed Martial Arts). She was just as high on “Power of Now” as me. We talk about consciousness. We talk about animals. I discover my fondness for ‘Jaguar’ the big cat. We debate why Jaguar is the way it is. Monk in the cat world?!
And then April and early summer happens. I feel more anxiety. I can’t understand how are people so outgoing in summer. How are they so happy? My body thought of heat and resulting stress as something to be worried about. Going out becomes harder for me. I become jealous of all those folks who could handle themselves well in the heat.