I can’t live with myself anymore.
Wait a minute. What does this mean?
I can’t live with myself anymore.
If I can’t live with myself anymore, who is the I that can’t live with my self anymore?
And who is my self that I can’t live with anymore?
Just think about this for a second.
If this sentence is true, there must be two of us!
The I (that can’t live with my self) on one side, and the self (that my I can’t live with) on the other side.
This is not just a silly game. It’s the revolutionary thought that finally cured the 29-year-old Eckhart Tolle of a long-lasting “depression”. One single thought that led out of the vicious circle of destructive thinking. One single thought that resulted in two books, one of them the New York Times best-seller and this month’s book review The Power of Now.
However Eckhart wouldn’t call it a thought, but rather a so-called “spiritual awakening” or his personal “inner calling”.
But this is not a story about a man who managed to fight depression, nor is it about some naïve, spiritual dreamers, who walk around in white garments pretending to understand the meaning of life while not being able to handle it successfully.
It’s about something we all can profit from. It’s about how we function as human beings, how we think, how we feel and, most of all, how the ability to use these functions for our own good totally changes our perception of the world.
It’s about how this book really managed to change my view of the world and most of all the view I had on others including myself.
But what is Eckhart Tolle’s basic idea?
Well, Tolle’s message is actually too big to compromise into a blog post. This is why I want to give you a very small but essential insight into one of his theories of human mind.
How does our mind function?
Maybe the most important thing about our mind is that we all have a voice in it that can’t shut the fuck up. To say it in Eckhart’s words:
“You have probably come across “mad” people in the street incessantly talking or muttering to themselves. Well, that’s not much different from what you and all other “normal” people do, except that you don’t do it out loud. The voice comments, speculates, judges, compares, complains, likes, dislikes, and so on.”
Through these speculations, judgments and comparisons of the incessant voice in our minds, we often tend to put ourselves down. We all have this kind of “tape” running through our minds that tells us things about ourselves like “I won’t accomplish this, because I’m not good enough”, “I can’t ask for a pay raise because actually I’m just a small nobody in this big company”, “I’m not smart enough; why should anybody be interested in my opinion?”
These detrimental thoughts make us feel that way, that is to say: bad, unworthy, small and weak.
And so we don’t only think that way. More than this, we start to act out of the way we think, which means that we live and therefore really become these thoughts. In fact they are often the real reason we don’t get what we truly wish for ourselves. Thoughts preventing us from being at peace with ourselves. And lastly preventing us from living a satisfying and happy life.
What we think is what we feel
Our emotions are the products of our thoughts. But who guarantees the truth of our thinking? Who actually says that, how and what we think about ourselves, is really true?
That’s the thing: Nobody.
But through identifying with our thoughts, we deeply believe that our way of thinking is the only truth.
“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.”
But, what does that mean?
Who are we, if not our mind? The answer is: Learn to disidentify from negative thinking!
Start doing this by “watching the thinker”. This means: listen to the voice in your head and be there just as the witness. To start with try to create a “gap” in your mind through asking yourself the question: What is going to be my next thought? Through waiting for it, you’ll create a moment of no-thinking. You will then be totally conscious about the first thought that crosses your mind. It really works. Just try it.
Don’t analyze or judge what you are thinking.
Just listen to your thoughts like a neutral stranger.
Be totally present. You can try this through focusing on your breathing.
Just to be conscious of a thought will help you enormously to disidentify from it, because you then no longer see it as a part of yourself. You are just “watching” or “listening” to the thought.
“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.”
And if you really manage to get to this state, Eckhart says, then you’ll know who you are, that is to say: the “watcher”. You are the one who is aware of your thinking. Wow!
When I first started reading this month’s book review I have never even tried something like meditating or allowed myself to get into this topic without judging or condemning it. Meditation was something for old health gurus who were living in their own “weird” and “crazy” world. However, looking back I was able to learn so much about the human mind so that I came out with a totally new and better understanding about what spirituality really is. The truth is, we all function quite the same way. We all have the same tools to improve our thinking in order to have a more peaceful and inspiring life! Everybody should know how to use these tools – and since I was able to learn a lot about using them through The Power of Now, I would recommend it to every single person on earth.
The best Croatian coffee house to read this book in
Yes, what you just read is true! Since I am having a great time in Croatia right now, I thought about recommending a great Croatian coffee house for this month’s book review. It’s the one and only Café Vitriol in Novigrad with a wonderful view of the Mediterranean Sea. By the way: They serve the best coffee ever here!
Photo credits: All images by the author.