Becoming Finders, my book club, met last night. There were laughs and wine and cheese and chocolate…all the staples you’d probably imagine. But there was also insight and listening and sharing and connection – which can feel like a real treat when you find it.
We chose The Power of NOW – A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment by Eckhart Tolle. A dense read with some very simple advice on how to stay in the “Now” as well as some lengthy mind-bending takes on the mind and the ego.
Tolle is described as a “contemporary spiritual teacher who is not aligned with any particular religion or tradition,” and I like that description because it feels welcoming to me.
I’m not even going to try to summarize the book for you, because honestly, I can’t. It’s engaging, challenged me in a good way and I definitely recommend it if you’re curious to learn more about how time is an illusion, how pms can deepen your spiritual practice or how spending too much time thinking about the past ages you faster than you may like. He pulls on teachings from various traditions. There’s a lot to take in.
I liked how the whole book was basically about mindfulness but I don’t think he used the word mindfulness once.* It seemed creative that he was able to describe mindfulness in 229 pages without using the actual word, however, the book was first written in 1999 and I don’t know that “mindfulness” was a trendy buzzword back then. *Please correct me if I am wrong, but I don’t recall the use of the word.
One of our group’s discussion questions asked if there was a single point or an “ah-ha!” moment for you in the book. For me, that came in chapter 9 which is titled, “Beyond Happiness and Unhappiness There is Peace.” He talks about cycles of life and the section was about success, failure, doing and sickness. Page 183 explains,
“Growth is usually considered positive, but nothing can grow forever. If growth, of whatever kind, were to go on and on, it would eventually become monstrous and destructive. Dissolution is needed for new growth to happen. One cannot exist without the other.”
Wowza. That slapped me in the face. I shared it with the group because we are a group of 6 women, and it often comes up how much we do and how busy we all are. Not in a competitive way, but it’s just our collective nature it seems. So I thought they could relate. I find myself growing a family, growing a soap business, growing and deepening all of the important relationships in my life through continuous work and dedication and lastly, growing fresh herbs in little pots on my porch. All of these things bring me joy, but they all simply cannot continue to grow at all times. I find myself feeling somewhat lost in the down cycle or the wake of a period of extreme growth.
“Your physical energy is also subject to cycles. It cannot always be at a peak…Many illnesses are created through fighting against the cycles of low energy, which are vital for regeneration.” page 184
I actually love to do nothing, but I often feel like I’m forgetting something important that I should be doing. That makes me think: even though I love to relax, I’m not super comfortable with the idea of it quite yet. I’m so conditioned to do. A great opportunity that I get many times a day is through play with my kids. I actually enjoy playing babies or making up silly games and dances. When I can be in the flow of it, I’m allowing myself to relax. When I feel distracted, I realize that I’m trying to “do” my way out of something and try to refocus.
This book helped me be a watcher of my thoughts and observer of my self. I’m curious to see how the ideas are expanded on in A New Earth. I’ve already checked it out of the library…
Next week I’ll be taking a brief pause from writing as I soak up some sun.