Tag Archive 'Eckhart Tolle'

Dec 10 2012

I’m Losing My Mind, YAY! Here’s How: – #98

In a recent interview, Eckhart Tolle told Oprah that years ago, when he was a scholar and doctoral candidate at Cambridge University in England, he was severely depressed, tormented by persistent negative thoughts, and was contemplating suicide. At the time, he said to himself, “I can’t live with myself anymore.” That sparked an epiphany, a clear awareness of his egoic mind versus his true self, and it catapulted him into the present and changed his life forever. He quit his secure position at the university, and spent his days sitting on a park bench enjoying his newfound peace and sharing with others about ‘the power of now’.

Oprah asked him how the people in his life reacted to his sudden change, and he said, “My mother thought I’d lost my mind.” Oprah smiled and said, “You did lose your mind!” They both laughed. He lost his painful egoic mind and gained the expansive peaceful presence of his true self.

There’s a saying, “Of all the things I’ve lost, I miss my mind the most.” For me, of all the things I’ve lost, I miss my mind the LEAST. I sometimes had a chatterbox mind; when I was unsettled, my busy mind was like a crazed acrobat, tumbling from thought to thought, leaping to conclusions. After my cancer diagnosis (wow, almost 4 years ago), a whole circus of crazed acrobats was unleashed in my mind! I felt highly motivated to calm those painful tumbling fears and imaginings. As a result of my efforts, I’m delighted to say…I am losing my mind! (and gaining so much more!) I’d like to share with you the ways I’m doing that.

The key is bringing awareness to the breath and body. Eckhart Tolle said, “You need an anchor for presence, and the inner body is a wonderful anchor for the state of presence.” When we focus on the body, the mind becomes quieter, because we’re no longer giving it attention. Before my diagnosis, I don’t think I’d ever fully committed to being in my body. Now I am fully occupying and feeling the dynamic aliveness of this earth suit! Here are three areas of my body that especially have become allies in stilling my mind and anchoring peaceful presence.

HEART: When I’m trying to go to sleep and my mind is restlessly chattering, I bring my awareness to my heart, and start breathing through my heart; soon my mind settles down and I fall asleep! When I’m with someone and notice judgmental jabbering in my mind, I send a beam of light from my heart to theirs, and I immediately feel more peaceful, loving, and connected (with them as well as myself). The Institute of HeartMath says that bringing awareness to our heart, breathing through our heart, and imagining someone or something we love, puts our body in a measurable state of coherence and harmony. This is a healing state; it’s the state I want to live in.

ABDOMEN: When worry thoughts start to churn, I take deep slow abdominal breaths (the belly expands with each inhalation). This simple act not only brings me instantly present, it also activates the relaxation response, the lymphatic system, and the immune system! And I feel more juicily alive!

FEET: When I’m walking and find my mind blathering away about something, I bring my awareness to my feet: I breathe in, up from the earth into my feet, and I breathe out through my feet, feeling supported, connected, and held by mother earth.

Bringing awareness to ANY part of our body helps calm the mind and anchor presence. This is something I’ve wanted and needed to learn how to do in this life. I can imagine my soul saying, “We need to be more present in our body, in our heart, feeling our feet on the ground, breathing deeply, and being fully grounded in spirit and in this life. I know just the thing that will motivate us to do that…the answer cancer!”

I answered that call to more vivid, committed aliveness, and because of that, for me, cancer has been the ultimate life enhancer, helping me lose my troubled mind (much of the time), and gain the spacious present. This foray into peaceful presence may even be what’s healing the cancer. What a lovely design – cancer made me more present, and that presence is healing the cancer! (At least, that is the story I’m telling myself, and I like that story!)

How about you? What are ways that help you lose your mind, and anchor peace, presence, and harmony in your life?

In Love,

Jan Jacobsen

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Dec 10 2011

One Very Important Rule for a Successful Holiday – #84

Recently I was browsing in my favorite store in Cambria, Moonstones Gallery, and was delighted to come across a very funny Brian Andreas Story People print that said:

Rules for a successful holiday:
1.     Get together with the family
2.     Relive old times
3.     Get out before it blows (tick tick tick)

The reason that’s so funny is because it can be so true! It reminded me of my annual visits to my family home in Mystic, Connecticut — what I liked to call The Button Factory because that’s where all my buttons were installed. I considered it my yearly exam for all the personal growth I’d achieved that year. I’d start out with such good intentions to stay calm, stay centered, stay present; but as the days went by…tick tick tick…the big KABOOM loomed and I was doomed!

It was very humbling. Ram Dass once said, “If you think you are enlightened, go and spend a week with your parents.” Eckhart Tolle, author of The Power of Now, wrote in response to that quote, “The relationship with your parents is not only the primordial relationship that sets the tone for all subsequent relationships, it is also a good test for your degree of Presence. The more shared past there is in a relationship, the more present you need to be; otherwise, you will be forced to relive the past again and again.

I was talking to Tom about the trials of family visits, and shared a joke I’d heard about it:

Question: What is Einstein’s theory of relativity?
Answer: The closer you get to your relatives the slower time goes.
He laughed and said that could be taken two ways. He has an unusually harmonious family, so for him the closer he gets to his family, time slows down in a good way because he is fully present with them, savoring every delicious moment.

This has been one of the big gifts of the big “C” for me — I’m learning to savor every precious moment with loved ones, with this planet, with this earthsuit known as Janet. The ‘tick tick tick’ of time passing has slowed down to ‘Now Now Now’. I reassure myself, “Right now I’m all right and right now is all there is.” That’s the mantra that comforts me the most when my worst fears come up — it successfully brings me back to the safety and reality of the present moment.

In the present moment, life is experienced as it is…not as it might be in the future or as it was in the past. Therefore, I believe that one very important rule for a successful holiday (and life) is to be fully present with what is happening now, savoring life and loved ones like delicious eggnog.
My mother passed away several years ago and our childhood home was sold. I can honestly say that I miss The Button Factory. I wish I’d been able to savor more the time I spent there. I wish I had allowed myself to experience time slowing down in a good way. A valuable lesson I’ve learned from that is: Better to savor than be sorry.

How about you? Do you have a mantra that helps you stay centered and present during challenging times (like family visits)?  Is there something that helps remind you to savor the delicious present rather than gnaw on the painful past? I’m wishing you a very savory Christmas present!

In Love,
Jan Jacobsen

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Apr 19 2011

Getting Free From the Grip of a Mindset – Mastering the Game of Life #71

I had an epiphany watching Tiger Woods play in The Masters recently. It was the last day of play and he was in the zone, playing like his old winner self and moving up in the pack. But then he made a mistake, and another, and another. He began to grimace, obviously upset with himself. His frustration only tightened the grip of this losing self that had taken over.

It became clear to me that the real Masters game of life is to become aware of these ego mindsets that hijack us, and to shift out of them and get back to present time, back to the soul zone of infinite possibilities. The ultimate winning is when we realize that we are not who we think we are – it is knowing that we are SO much more.

On the ego level there are many selves, personas, stories that we can get lost in and think that is who we really are. Like multiple personalities, each one takes on a life of it’s own, requiring and expecting different things. Each self believes that they are the only one and that this is the only way it is and ever will be.

In the book The Bell Jar, poet Sylvia Plath writes that her episodes of suicidal depression were like being in a bell jar where she could only see life through that oppressive distortion. I know what that feels like. In my late teens and early twenties I was also suicidal and, like Sylvia Plath, I experienced that through that filter of depression life did not seem worth living. In that context it seemed that life was unbearable, always had been and always would be — from that limited perspective I could not see it ever getting better. The bell jar is a dangerous place to be.

It was about that time that I started reading metaphysical books and realized that I was trapped in a mindset. I was excited and hopeful knowing that life would change if I could change my hardwired thoughts and beliefs. That was the big challenge that life was offering me. I accepted the challenge and after much work I eventually got free of the bell jar.

I was also trapped in a mindset about relationships – I believed that I was alone and always would be because I wasn’t good enough to be loved.  This was a painful self-fulfilling prophecy that served to keep me alone and, therefore, safe from the perceived greater pain of loving and being hurt. That mindset was only able to see the possibility of hurt. When I finally realized it was just a mindset, I set out to change it. I deliberately started seeing myself as a glorious, magnificent, beautiful soul. I bought a lavender glass swan as a symbol to remind me, “I’m not a duck, I’m a swan.” Imagining myself being loved became easier and easier, until it eventually became a reality.

In the book, Love for No Reason, Marci Shimoff talks about the love-body, which is the opposite of the pain-body (that painful mindset that Eckhart Tolle writes about in The Power of Now). The love-body is who we truly are. While the pain-body is contractive, the love-body is expansive. We can build our love-body by focusing on love. Having experienced cancer nipping at my butt, I am very motivated to focus on my heart and build my love-body — I know that in the realm of love there are infinite possibilities far beyond what any of my limited selves can imagine and create.

My love-body was tested recently. I had gotten into a bit of a funk and had fallen down the ‘rabid’ hole. It was a brief but intense revisiting of an old neural pathway of misery. I hadn’t felt that bad in many years, but I remembered well that terrible feeling of being unloved, unlovable and unloving. My husband Tom was being his sweet and loving self, but being loved was not congruent with this self I was trapped in. This self feels ugly and bad. Tom didn’t fit in with this miserable self’s story of woe. This self looked at him perplexed, “What is he doing here? He loves me? How could he love me? Doesn’t he know I’m unlovable?” In the midst of my misery, a witnessing part of me was watching all this, well aware that I was stuck in a pain-body, and knowing it would soon pass. This is what was different from all my depressions in the past – I had developed a witness that was able to see the light, even while I was in the grip of darkness.

In the thick of this episode I had a dream about being on a train that was filled with drama and danger. In the dream I had an ah-ha moment when I realized that it was all an illusion sprung forth from my imagination — I knew that I could focus on my heart and all the drama would fall away. The train represented my being hijacked by a runaway train of thought. Focusing on my heart brought the train back to the station, back to the present moment, back to my love-body. The train is also a symbol of me training myself to make that shift.

The greatest mastery in life is being able to shift out of our menagerie of mindsets and return to the present moment where love resides. I’d like to share with you a simple formula I devised that helps me do this, using the acronym NOW which stands for:

Notice — my body sensations, breath, feelings, thoughts and beliefs

Own — This is one of my selves. It is not who I am. Which self is this?

What’s the truth? — Who am I really? How is it really?

Here’s an example of this is from the recent brief bout of depression I described above: I notice that my breath is shallow, my body is rigid, and I feel angry, sad, and scared. I own that I’m stuck in a pain-body, I call her Chopped Liver, who feels unimportant and bad and is sad and mad about it. I ask myself, “What’s the truth?” The truth is I know that I am loved, that I’m important to people. I know that I’m important to myself. I see the reality check that Tom is in my life, showing me how far I have come, and I deeply value myself for that accomplishment. I take a deep breath, recognizing that I am a strong woman and a beautiful soul. The runaway train has returned to the station.

Are there mindsets of yours that take over and have you thinking it’s who you really are and how it really is? What are ways you stop these runaway trains of thought and return to the station, to your magnificent, present moment, True Self?

In Love,

Jan Jacobsen

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May 28 2009

Now Here This – The Purrer of NOW #14

Eckhart Tolle has said that he’s known three Zen masters in his life and all of them were cats.  My Zen master, Zeena, is teaching me valuable life lessons. One of the most important things I’m learning is to Be simple and to Simply be, to feel my feet on the ground and be fully present.  

Buddha said, “Be where you are, otherwise you will miss your life.” It’s easy to go unconscious and sleepwalk through our life, therefore, it’s important to have reminders that wake us up. In the novel “Island”, by Aldous Huxley, the mynah birds on the island are taught to say “Attention, Here and Now, Here and Now.” Zeena does this for me; sometimes I’ll be lost in watching some TV show and Zeena will jump on my lap and say, “Neow Neow Neow.”

She’s teaching me that Now is all there is. Whether you’re chasing a mouse or chasing a dream, be fully present with it. It doesn’t matter what your dream is and it doesn’t matter what you do; all that really matters is that you be fully where you are while you’re doing it. A cat isn’t concerned about yesterday or tomorrow. Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, right now is a gift, that’s why they call it the present. I invite all of us to open our present like a cat does. A cat enjoys all that there is about the present; the present is something to fully savor with all our senses.

I’m also learning from my cat that we are purrfect just the way we are. I’m learning to fully allow, accept, and welcome All of who I am. Like Zeena, I can sometimes be persnickety, and have been known to throw the occasional hissy fit. But like Zeena, I’m learning to accept myself just as I am. Carl Jung said, “I’d rather be whole than good.” I bet Carl Jung had a cat. A cat doesn’t judge and criticize itself and try to be good. A cat doesn’t think, “I really need to be more loving.” Or, “I shouldn’t be napping now, I should be doing something, I should be accomplishing something.” Or, “I really shouldn’t use my human as a trampoline when she’s trying to sleep.” No, a cat allows ALL of its catness. A cat is a cat and that’s that.

I was getting ready to go to a party one day and I was feeling nervous about it. I feel uncomfortable at parties sometimes. I worry about what to do or say. I feel a bit like a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. As I was worrying about this, I looked at Zeena, and these words came to me: “There’s nothing I have to do today, there’s nothing I have to do or say, just be in the Now all the way, that’s all I have to do today.  Breathe in. Breathe out. That’s all I have to do.” I love those words. They’re very soothing to me.

While driving to the party I shared those words with my husband Tom, and our friend Nicola Gordon, a singer and songwriter from Santa Barbara. She loved those words too and said, “Let’s turn them into a song!” And we did! We put the words to the tune of  “The Ants go Marching One by One”.  We call it the Now song. This song has become a great reminder to me and my friends to breathe and come into the Now whenever we feel stressed or pressured. It’s also a great reminder, just like Zeena is, that we are enough, we are purrfect just the way we are.

(This part was written a week ago)

I am laying on my back and Zeena is laying on my chest. We are looking into each other’s eyes. She is very sick; her liver is failing. She is so still. I pet her, and she softly purrs. “I’m so sorry sweetheart that this is happening. I’m so sorry you are hurting.” I realize I’m saying this to myself, as well as to her.

As we lay heart to heart, I imagine pink light radiating from my heart to hers, flooding her whole body in pink light, trying to change her yellow jaundiced skin to pink. Maybe I will suddenly be endowed with healing power and a miracle will happen and she will survive, proving the vet wrong.

We hold each other in our silent gaze. We lay together in the warmth of loving presence for a long time, heart to heart, eye to eye, soul to soul. As I look at her, my mind starts to wonder, “How will it be without her?” It is hard to imagine her not being here. I will miss so much her sweet meow, her bunny-soft fur, how she runs to me for safety when her brother Bo is chasing her, how she lets me hold her like a baby, how she nestles into Tom’s armpit when he’s laying next to me, how she licks us with sweet kitty kisses and we joke, “Zeena can’t hold her licker.” Tears slowly roll down my face.

As I wipe my tears, I look at her – she is still here. Right now, she is here. She is laying on my chest. She is looking into my eyes. She is breathing in and breathing out with me in this warm, intimate moment, in this sweet, timeless space. This moment is all that there is. She is here now, and, so am I.

Is there something that life is asking you to come into loving presence with? Breathe in. Breathe out. Now…Here…This. Right Now is all there is.

In Love,

Jan Jacobsen

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