A New Earth revisited

19 01 2009

Back last summer when I picked up “A New Earth” by Eckhart Tolle and began to read it, I had just left for vacation in Western NC.  I’m really glad I got the chance to start this book in a setting like that, away from distractions, quiet and secluded.   I imagine that this book came along at exactly the right time for me, as it has begun to open up doors for me and I’m seeing things in a much different way.  

For me, the key to this book is understanding what Tolle means when he talks about the “ego.”  This is probably the most difficult part of the book to understand, a least for me, but once I did begin to understand it, some of the other messages in the book began to reveal themselves.  He does a great job describing the ego as that voice in our heads that talk to us, sometimes incessantly throughout the day.  That incessant stream of thought, or, as I perceive it, life based on that thought, is the ego.  According to him, most people are still completely identified with that stream of thought.

One way to look at it, one that really clicked with me was a statement he made in the book:  “When you say you have to convince yourself of something, who are you convincing?”  There is only one of you.  That is a glimpse of how your ego works, a constant stream of thought.

I can relate to that.  I’ve always been a person whose mind is constantly racing.  I wake up in the morning and the first hour of my day is spent in thought, just putting together what my day will look like.  Throughout the day, my mind bounces from topic to topic, thought to thought, and by the end of the evening, it takes extra time in quiet to let myself wind down, sorting through the day’s events.  So I know what Tolle is saying when he talks about an incessant stream of thought.

Another interesting topic Tolle covers is Identification with things.  Its the idea that the things you have make you more of a person, or others who don’t have them less than you.  More clearly stated, its the idea that not having something diminishes who you are.  I catch myself (and people around me) on a regular basis fighting this battle – i need an iPhone.  I so want an HD plasma TV.  I need that Patagonia jacket.  It’s as if we are less of a person without the thing we need.  So I should ask myself – without this thing, am I less of a person?  Am I not still as much of a human without it?

So can I get beyond this?  Can I at least start to become present, to be aware of my inner presence and see things more clearly.  Since beginning to read this book, I’ve worked to become more aware of the times when I’m more present than others.  One of the times when I am most present, most aware of my inner strength, is when I am running.  

There is no other time when I have more clarity than during a run.  I’ve discovered that when there is nothing but me and my breathe, when I can run until my mind can no longer incessantly whisper to me, when I can only focus on breathing in and out and moving my legs forward, I become keenly aware of my inner self.  My senses are heightened  and I begin to process things more clearly and see people, situations and scenarios more for what they are.  

So now my new goal is to practice getting to this point, a point of clarity, without actually having to be on a run.  I want to be able to get to that place and for now at least, the best way for me to do that is to focus on my breath – to even practice that and put myself in that state of only me and my breath, with a goal to be present when I need to be – at least at first – and a long-term hope of learning to always be present.

Advertisements