Inside Yoga 301 (27/4/2020)
Are you a habitual “waiter”? How much of your life do you spend waiting? It is not uncommon for people to spend their whole life waiting to start living.
These are comments made by the writer Eckhart Tolle in his book The Power of Now, and this morning while I was looking for ideas of something to write I came across the notes I had written when reading this book several years ago. As I read the notes, it struck me how relevant these comments are right now, especially as we now find ourselves in a mass “holding pattern” during the current lockdown due to Covid-19 pandemic. It was what Tolle wrote next which I felt important to share:
“Waiting is a state of mind. Basically, it means that you want the future; you don’t want the present. You don’t want what you’ve got, and you want what you haven’t got. With every kind of waiting, you unconsciously create inner conflict between your here and now, where you don’t want to be, and the projected future, where you want to be. This greatly reduces the quality of your life by making you lose the present.”
It is clear we do want the end of lockdown, and that is in the future, but what Tolle highlights is that faced with the present situation, why focus on the future so much, instead notice what we do have right now, especially the good stuff. For many of us, there are some positives about being in this surreal lockdown, like spending more time with our children, which is something we can look back, however long this lockdown lasts, and realise how precious those days were. Pets are enjoying all the attention they are getting from their owners with the lockdown, like our dog who is certainly one happy pet right now.
For others, during pre-lockdown (remember those days?) we would often complain that we didn’t have the time to do some DIY in the home, read certain books and watch a particular box set. Now we can.
Some of us have been able to pause and slow down our lifestyle, not our choice admittedly at the time, but we now are seeing our life more clearly, because this is what a pause can do: offer us the time to gain some clarity about our life in the same way meditation offers us the same insights. These insights will be laying the seeds of change where some of us will be thinking about how we could improve how we live not only now, but when we reach post-lockdown.
The quote from Tolle also highlights the futility of battling with something beyond our control, which is the lockdown, but is also the future. As he writes: “With every kind of waiting, you unconsciously create inner conflict between your here and now, where you don’t want to be, and the projected future, where you want to be.”
Living in the present is the solution, tricky though it might be because we spend most of thinking time either in the past or future. With regards to what he mentions, we can plan our future, like how our life will be in the post lockdown, and we can think about what will happen, but there comes a point when we must stop those thoughts, and concentrate on living in the present. Like we do in meditation, we practice dropping the thoughts and returning to the silence. Here we focus on the present life.
Otherwise the repeated thinking of the future, waiting as Tolle describes it, will harm us. Instead, we can put the thoughts of a future in a mental folder to be dealt with when we get nearer to the time which stands distant in the future at present.
The current lockdown is teaching us to be patient and present, hard as it is, do we have a choice?
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