Originally published in the late 1990s, The Power of Now was written after its author, Eckhart Tolle, had an epiphany at age 29 and became “enlightened”. The book achieved huge success once it was recommended by popular talkshow host Oprah Winfrey.
The author holds some very strong beliefs which almost feel like his own religion in a way. This may turn you off if you are fairly anti-religious or already follow a religion.
He also makes some (to me, dubious) claims about his teachings. For example, that it will help you age slower, and strengthen your immune system.
Although I was left feeling sceptical as I read his claims, I am open to acknowledging that his teachings could help lower your stress, which in turn probably helps you to stay healthy and live a little bit longer.
Nonetheless, for all that I disliked about the book I still enjoyed it enough to write this blog post about it!
People spend almost all of their time thinking. Sometimes, we might dwell on things that have happened to us in the past, or worry about things that might happen in the future.
Holding onto these thoughts isn’t very useful. It prevents us from enjoying the “now” because we spend so much time stuck in the past or the future.
When these thoughts come into your head, you should take a step back and observe the thought impartially. Don’t beat yourself up about these negative thoughts either (because that’s just creating more negative thoughts). Acknowledge it, and by acknowledging it you’ll have an easier time of letting it go.
In a way, a lot of what Eckhart Tolle talks about is very similar to the concept of mindfulness, which you may be familiar with. Using meditation apps like Headspace can help you to hone your mindfulness skill, even for as little as 5 - 10 minutes a day.
This is something I’m very guilty of. It’s very easy to fall into the trap of thinking “I’ll be happy once I attain X” or “I’ll be happy when I become Y”. But the truth is that you’ll reach that milestone, and then you’ll set yourself another one! You’ll forever be chasing happiness in the future, when instead you should be focusing on happiness in the “now”.
Being happy today is easier said than done. I recently listened to an audiobook, Habits for Happiness, which gave a couple of tips:
- Every day, think of three things that you are grateful for
- Make sure to get enough sleep, and regularly exercise
- Create a vision board for yourself that outlines all the things you want to achieve to be happy
- Set yourself goals to work towards achieving your vision
I love goal setting and creating vision boards, although it technically does seem to conflict with what Eckhart Tolle talks about. I think the way to approach it is that it’s okay to have a vision, but you have to enjoy the process of getting there, rather than putting off the enjoyment for until you get there.
As much as I rolled my eyes at some of what Tolle had to say, I still did feel that this book had an impact on me. Especially during this pandemic I sometimes do feel myself struggling a little bit and this book was a helpful reminder to spend less time worrying or yearning and to try to enjoy the “now”.
From looking at its reviews on Goodreads, if you are already fairly familiar with meditation, zen or other spiritual books I would give this one a miss. However if you are fairly new to the topic (like me) and are open to books on spirituality or willing to look past the dodgy bits, I would recommend giving this book a go.