Episode 40: Confidence in the Present with Eckhart Tolle
Episode 40: Confidence in the present with Eckhart Tolle
Welcome back everyone! I got some happy mail this week that I’m excited to share with you all. If you’re in my Facebook group I have a limited time promotion where you could get your very own custom designed Catalyst tshirt. They’re totally awesome and I just love mine. It says, Catalyst – change one thing, change everything and that’s really why I chose the name Catalyst because when I was first learning about these tools and the model and life coaching nothing really changed for me externally. My circumstances didn’t change but internally, everything changed.
It was one thing, I learned the model. I learned how much agency I really did have over my life, my thoughts, how I get to choose my emotions even, how my thoughts changed my relationships, and the things I was able to accomplish. One thing changed and yet, everything changed. I realized that I didn’t have to rely on outside sources or for my circumstances to change, I didn’t need more education, more money, a bigger house, more accolades for me to feel happy and fulfilled. I learned that I was the catalyst for all that change, that everything that was missing lived inside of me already. That was coined from Mary Poppins just so you know, She says, “Maybe all that’s missing lives inside of you” and it’s true. YOU are the catalyst. YOU create the change you want in your life. That’s powerful! Change one thing, change everything.
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Okay, the last two weeks we’ve been talking about time, the past, and last week feeling confident in our future, and now, today, we’re talking about feeling confident in the present and because it’s the 40th episode, as you know I like to spotlight a book, a person, one of my teachers or someone that I’ve learned from on every tenth episode and this worked out so perfectly because whenever I talk about the present moment I have to highlight and give credit to Eckhart Tolle who taught me so much about the present and especially in his book, The Power of Now.
It’s an incredible read and it will absolutely change the way you think about things. So let’s dive in.
I want to start by asking you a question, when are you most confident and why?
Here’s another question, when are you the most insecure and why?
Take a moment, pause this recording and really answer those for yourself.
Generally for most of us when we’re confident it’s because we feel like we have the know how, we’re certain we can accomplish whatever task is in front of us. We’re pretty certain of the outcome and we know we’re going to be okay so we feel confident.
In contrast, when we feel insecure it’s because we don’t know that things are going to be okay. We don’t have the know how. We don’t know how we’re going to be received or perceived. We don’t know if people are going to like us, accept us, want to be with us and so we doubt ourselves.
In both cases – confident or insecure – these feelings both generated from thoughts. You have thoughts in your mind and these thoughts create a feeling for you. We tell ourselves stories and these stories create the world around us.
Eckhart Tolle teaches us that we need to separate ourselves from these stories. That our mind’s are amazing but when we identify with our ego, our natural man, our primitive brain or however you want to address it, lower brain – we tend to create suffering for ourselves.
He says, “The mind is a superb instrument if used rightly. Used wrongly, however, it becomes very destructive. To put it more accurately, it is not so much that you use your mind wrongly — you usually don’t use it at all. It uses you. This is the disease. You believe that you are your mind. This is the delusion. The instrument has taken you over.”
So many of us operate from auto-pilot. We live day in and day out going through routines, eating similar foods, taking the same roads, thinking the same thought, feeling habit loops. The circumstances change but notice your go to thoughts and feelings.
For me for a while before coaching I would get frustrated daily. The circumstances changed daily but I would think, “this should be different” and those thougths, those expectations would create frustration. It was me operating from auto-pilot. My mind was just like, oh, this is what we think when we see that. This is how we feel when we think that. It wasn’t bad or operating without my approval. It was merely operating from what I had given it. The expectations I had put in place and believed, the biases I’d picked up through the years and I didn’t even realize what was happening. I believed that the circumstances created the frustration and for the life of me I couldn’t figure out how some people were just naturally patient, calm, and all the things I wanted to be.
We have to get out of auto-pilot and how do you do this? Eckhart teaches us that we need to observe the mind. We have to become the watcher of our thoughts. Everyone has a voice in their minds. Eckhart says,
“The voice comments, speculates, judges, compares, complains, likes, dislikes, and so on. The voice isn’t necessarily relevant to the situation you find yourself in at the
time; it may be reviving the recent or distant past or rehearsing or imagining possible future situations. Here it often imagines things going wrong and negative outcomes; this is called worry. Sometimes this soundtrack is accompanied by visual images or “mental movies.” Even if the voice is relevant to the situation at hand, it will
interpret it in terms of the past. This is because the voice belongs to your conditioned mind, which is the result of all your past history as well as of the collective cultural mind-set you inherited. So you see and judge the present through the eyes of the past and get a totally distorted view of it. It is not uncommon for the voice to be a person’s own worst enemy. Many people live with a tormentor in their head that continuously attacks and punishes them and drains them of vital energy. It is the cause of untold misery and unhappiness, as well as of disease.
The good news is that you can free yourself from your mind. This is the only true liberation. You can take the first step right now.
Start listening to the voice in your head as often as you can. Pay particular attention to any repetitive thought patterns, those old gramophone records that have been playing in your head perhaps for many years. This is what is meant by “watching the thinker,”
which is another way of saying: listen to the voice in your head, be there as the witnessing presence. When you listen to that voice, listen to it impartially. That is to say,
do not judge. Do not judge or condemn what you hear, for doing so would mean that the same voice has come in again through the back door. You’ll soon realize: there is the voice, and here I am listening to it, watching it. This I am realization, this sense of your
own presence, is not a thought. It arises from beyond the mind.”
I love this so much. Whatever you’re doing right now, washing the dishes, driving in your car, scrolling through social media, whatever you’re doing right now I want you to notice what you’re doing and then I want you to pan out and watch you from above almost. I’m recording this podcast. But I can see myself from an outside view talking into the microphone. I can see myself outside of myself. This is what the watcher does. It distances itself from the thought and notices that a thought is present.
You’re no longer the one thinking the thought, you’re now the watcher of the thinker.
Tolle says, “So when you listen to a thought, you are aware not only of the
thought but also of yourself as the witness of the thought. A new dimension of consciousness has come in. As you listen to the thought, you feel a conscious presence — your deeper self — behind or underneath the thought, as it were. The thought then loses its power over you and quickly subsides, because you are no longer energizing the mind through identification with it.”
Did you catch that? The thought loses it’s power over you because you’re not feeding it anymore. You’re just watching it.
This is hugely important to remember when you’re struggling. When in the present moment you’re struggling – you can step back, stop identifying with the thought and instead become the watcher of the thought. From here instead of judgement – “gah! I shouldn’t be thinking this way” it’s more compassionate and curious, “I wonder why my brain thinks this is important right now?”
Questioning it takes you from the thinker to the watcher. It brings you into the present moment, the here and now, and offers you a choice, a different path, a different outcome.
This is really amazing because it will help you to create confidence in the now. Again, remember, the only reason you’re not feeling confident is because of a story, most likely something that happened in your past. The past doesn’t exist in the present moment. The only thing that exists is your current thinking about the past. So when you bring yourself into the present moment as the watcher instead of the auto-pilot thinker, you get to choose a new identity.
Tolle say, “As you grow up, you form a mental image of who you are, based on your personal and cultural conditioning…To the ego, the present moment hardly exists. Only past and future are considered important…It is always concerned with keeping the past alive, because without it — who are you? It constantly projects itself into the future to ensure its continued survival and to seek some kind of release or fulfillment there. It says: “One day, when this, that, or the other happens, I am going to be okay, happy, at peace.” Even when the ego seems to be concerned with the present, it is not the present that it sees: It misperceives it completely because it looks at it through
the eyes of the past. Or it reduces the present to a means to an end, an end that always lies in the mind-projected future….The present moment holds the key to liberation. But you cannot find the present moment as long as you are your mind.”
Did you catch that question in there? Without the past, who are you?
This can be an incredibly enlightening question. Instead of I’m defined by my past and I’ve never been able to do that before so therefore I shouldn’t even try now. You get to ask yourself, who do I want to be right here, right now?
In this sense, personality is purely a thought. We like to label ourselves. We like to say, “oh, I’m not a math person”, “I’m not a morning person”, “I could never do that” and all this is based on the past. But right here in this moment, the past doesn’t exist. Only the now exists.
Tolle says, “Realize deeply that the present moment is all you have. Make the NOW the primary focus of your life.”
And in this very moment, who am I? Who do I choose to be?
There is so much power in this. You’re not confined to the past. You’re open to the infinite possibilities before you.
When I was first becoming a coach there was a lot of tech stuff that I needed to do. I needed a website, I needed a social platform, I needed a domain and site housing, I needed to learn how to do some coding, and such and all of this freaked me out. I was not confident that I could do that because I didn’t know how, I’d never learned my brain wanted to scream, “I can’t do this, I’m not a tech person” and for a while I believed that voice. I identified with the story. Until I decided to just become the watcher instead. Oh, that’s interesting that my brain thinks that, of course I don’t know how yet, it’s new but that doesn’t mean I can’t learn. YouTube is amazing my friends. And any time my brain wanted to throw the past back out there I’d just observe it, hmm…that’s interesting but I always remained focused on the present moment and right now, there’s nothing stopping me from becoming a tech person. Why can’t I be techy? I observed the story, I questioned it, and then I became very present and decided that maybe I was and because I created a new dialogue, a new stepping stone I became techy. My website was born and thankfully it’s been redone several times because that first one was very rough but I tell you what, I was super proud of it because it proved to myself that I could do it and I didn’t need the past to move forward. I created a new future, a new result because I questioned the thinker.
You can do this too. When you find yourself doubting, questioning, feeling insecure just pause. Notice that you’re not in the present moment. You’re living in the past and what things, what memories happened before or you’re living in the future and worried that things won’t work out, that they won’t be okay but when you bring it back to the present nothing is wrong.
Tolle says, “You can always cope with the present moment, but you cannot cope with something that is only a mind projection — you cannot cope with the future…
Because of its phantom nature, and despite elaborate defense mechanisms, the ego is very vulnerable and insecure, and it sees itself as constantly under threat. This, by the way, is the case even if the ego is outwardly very confident.
– People will tell me, I’m very confident but they’re still struggling and it’s because of this, the ego may in deed be outward, extroverted and seem confident but still inside struggling, wondering how other’s see them, wondering if they’re really okay, wondering if they’re enough. It’s this ego that feels that constant threat – and notice how it reacts, Tolle continues –
“Now remember that an emotion is the body’s reaction to your mind. (we know this, right? Your thoughts create your feelings” Tolle says, “What message is the body receiving continuously from the ego, the false, mind-made self?
Danger, I am under threat. And what is the emotion generated by this continuous message? Fear, of course.
Fear seems to have many causes. Fear of loss, fear of failure, fear of being hurt, and so on, but ultimately all fear is the ego’s fear of death, of annihilation. To the ego, death is always just around the corner. In this mind-identified state, fear of death affects every aspect of your life….The ego’s needs are endless. It feels vulnerable and threatened and so lives in a state of fear and want….it’s always seeking for something to attach itself to in order to uphold and strengthen its illusory sense of self, and it will readily attach itself to your problems. …
So once you recognize the root of unconsciousness as identification with the mind, which of course includes the emotions, you step out of it. You become present. When you are present, you can allow the mind to be as it is without getting entangled in it.
The mind in itself is not dysfunctional. It is a wonderful tool. Dysfunction sets in when you seek your self in it and mistake it for who you are….True power is within, and it is available to you now. “
You can always cope with the present moment. Let that sink in just for a moment. When you’re struggling. When you’re anxious. When you’re feeling low or lonely or discouraged you have to remember and notice that you’re not operating in the present anymore. You’re either in the past or the future. Get out of those and come into the present. You are always okay in the present moment.
Last year I went snowboarding for the first time and it was challenging for me. I had never done anything remotely like this before. I don’t like the cold. I don’t like heights and I certainly don’t like being confined to a slick board on top of mountain that I have no control over yet. So the first half of the day I was doing okay on the teeny bunny slopes. I had just started to feel more comfortable with the board and learning how to stop on my own without falling and my husband said, “lets go down a real slope” I was terrified of this idea but with much coaxing and convincing he assured me that it was really easy, not steep at all, it was just going to be beautiful and less people and just lots of fun. So I reluctantly went and my mind is having a field day. I’m realizing that I’m going up a steep mountain and that the only way down is to go down with my board. I know, very logical. Right off the bat, the lift I like pummeled my daughter trying to get off the lift and the first 5 feet or so was a pretty good slope, definitely one that I wasn’t ready for so I fell a lot and it hurt a lot.
I was determined to make it work so I got up and tried again and again but each time not making much progress and with each painful fall more thoughts crept in. I’d see little little little people gliding by like it was nothing. My kids were getting it easily. I didn’t want to appear lame in front of my husband – which was really interesting because when I’m off auto-pilot I don’t really care but my ego – my vulnerable ego was insecure and struggled with others watching me struggle. So at one point my physical body was just aching and my head was throbbing and I was no where near the end and I just had this slight panic attack on the mountain.
My mind was racing with a ton of irrational thoughts and I knew I needed to come back to the present because all my thoughts were past and future based. So I sat there in the snow talking to myself inwardly and just telling myself again and again, in this moment, I’m okay. In this moment I’m safe. In this moment it’s beautiful out here. In this moment everything is okay. And I just kept talking to myself like that. I noticed my breathing and how it was so rapid just moments ago it was starting to calm and slow down. Nothing was wrong in the present moment. All my fears were future based and worried about how ridiculous I looked and how I’d never get it.
But bringing myself back to the present moment created a stillness inside me. It didn’t matter what happened 5 minutes ago because that’s in the past and the past is gone. Becoming present focused gave me a gift. I could be anything I wanted to be in this moment. That thinking gave me enough confidence to stand up and try again and again and again all the way down the mountain.
The present moment is liberating.
When you find yourself struggling. Pause and remember, you can cope with the present moment. In this moment you are okay. In this moment nothing is wrong.
Tolle says, “The more you are focused on time — past and future — the more you miss the Now, the most precious thing there is.
Why is it the most precious thing?
Firstly, because it is the only thing. It’s all there is. The eternal present is the space within which your whole life unfolds, the one factor that remains constant. Life is now. There was never a time when your life was not now, nor will there ever be now”
This is amazing because this means that there isn’t anything you can’t accomplish and do. It doesn’t matter what happened yesterday. It doesn’t matter what happened when you were 5. What matters is what’s happening right now. What you’re choosing right now. You can feel confident in your present by letting go of time – the past and the future and just be in the now.
Tolle says, “Nothing exists outside of the now…Nothing ever happened in the past; it happened in the Now. Nothing will ever happen in the future; it will happen in the Now.
What you think of as the past is a memory trace, stored in the mind, of a former Now. When you remember the past, you reactivate a memory trace — and you do so now. The future is an imagined Now, a projection of the mind. When the future comes, it
comes as the Now. When you think about the future, you do it now. Past and future obviously have no reality of their own…In the Now, in the absence of time, all your problems dissolve. Suffering needs time; it cannot survive in the Now.”
Stop and think about that. Suffering needs time. It cannot survive in the now.
With my snowboarding experience all suffering was because I wasn’t operating from the present. I was all over, the past, worried about the future and if I’d ever get it. These thoughts created suffering. But when I became present all problems stopped. Right now, I’m okay. Right now I’m alive. Right now I’m still breathing. Right now I choose to get back up. Right now. Right now.
It’s allowing you to take one step at a time. Each step is beautiful and allows you to access joy instead of the suffering that comes with the confinement of time.
This doesn’t mean we don’t think about our learn from the past or that we stop planning for the future. This just means that we stop living from them and using them both against ourselves to create problems where there doesn’t need to be any.
Tolle says, “Make it your practice to withdraw attention from past and future whenever they are not needed. Step out of the time dimension as much as possible in everyday life. If you find it hard to enter the Now, start by observing the habitual tendency of your mind to want to escape from the Now.
You will observe that the future is usually imagined as either better or worse
than the present.
If the imagined future is better, it gives you hope or pleasurable anticipation. If it is worse, it creates anxiety. Both are illusory.
Through self-observation, more presence comes into your life automatically. The moment you realize you are not present, you are present. Whenever you are able to observe your mind, you are no longer trapped in it….
Be present as the watcher of your mind — Notice how often your attention is in the
past or future. Don’t judge or analyze what you observe. Watch the thought, feel the emotion, observe the reaction. Don’t make a personal problem out of them. You will then feel something more powerful than any of those things that you observe: the still, observing presence itself behind the content of your mind, the silent watcher.”
The present moment offers you a clean slate. It offers you possibility when your primitive mind believes there’s none. When it wants you to believe you’re stuck.
You can choose a completely different course of action in the present moment because you’re not confined to the past anymore or the worry and fear of the future.
At any given moment, in the now, you can choose a different path. You can choose to different you. You can shed all those thoughts and beliefs that aren’t serving you anymore. Question them, challenge them, and then in the present moment choose what’s best and most helpful for you.
I could go on and on and on about this. The present moment is incredible and offers you beauty, joy, and relief. Let me end with this:
“As soon as you honor the present moment, all unhappiness and struggle dissolve, and life begins to flow with joy and ease. When you act out the present-moment awareness, whatever you do becomes imbued with a sense of quality, care, and love – even the most simple action.”
“In your everyday life, you can practice this by taking any routine activity that normally is only a means to an end and giving it your fullest attention… For example, every time you walk up and down the stairs in your house or place of work, pay close attention to every step, every movement, even your breathing. Be totally present. Or when you wash your hands, pay attention to all the sense perceptions associated with the activity: the sound and feel of the water, the movement of your hands, the scent of the soap, and so on. Or when you get into your car, after you close the door, pause for a few seconds and observe the flow of your breath. Become aware of a silent but powerful sense of presence. There is one certain criterion by which you can measure your success in this practice: the degree of peace that you feel within.”
You can create confidence, peace, fulfillment, and love in each and every moment of your life by choosing to be present. You can handle anything in the present moment. Start watching your thoughts, when you notice problems and suffering bring it back to the present moment and from here you’ll be able to clearly make decisions for what you want to do next. You’ll be able to make decisions based on confidence and love verses fear and lack.
This is powerful stuff. Go read his book, The power of Now and I’ll talk to you all next week!
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