Friday, December 17, 2010

One Thing at a Time

On Wednesday I attended an Eckhart Tolle meditation and discussion group with my parents at this center. I loved it. There were 6 of us sitting by a fire meditating together, listening to some of Eckhart's teachings and discussing how they resonated with us. The first question the leader asked was how I got interested in his teachings. The answer was that I was reading an Oprah magazine on an airplane and read this one page article about Tolle in the back. In it he talked about how you are not your thoughts. That you are the awareness of your thoughts, and not the thoughts themselves. This simple mental shift astounded me. I am not my thoughts? These thoughts that have consumed me and defined me since I was born? I can step away from the thoughts that emerge in me and observe them as their own entity and not identify with them whatsoever? I can't explain how powerful that was for me. I went on to explain in the group that I have read many spiritual texts that talk about this concept, but it never rang true as clearly and as loudly as the language that Tolle used. There is a simplicity and directness in his teachings that really work for me and continue to help me as I revisit and reread his work over and over again.

One of the statements that resonated with me when we listened to him speak at this group was this : "Zen is doing only one thing at a time." Yes. I agree with this. In those moments that I am truly present, truly alive and aware, I am doing but one thing. One beautiful precious thing. But those moments are rare. Multi-tasking is an innate behavior in me that I am working to battle daily. It is celebrated and rewarded in our culture. But I don't like it. I want to just talk to someone on the phone, just drive my car, just eat my meal. But boiling our lives down to individual experiences seems impossible to me sometimes. Should I not listen to music while I am in the car, or talk to others while I eat my meal, etc...? But then I think about it and realize its something you work towards- not submit entirely to - like just slicing a beautiful tomato, or just looking someone in the eye and talking to them intently. The more you can create those moments of just doing absolutely one thing, I think the more aware, alive and conscious you are. And the more conscious we are, the more conscious the world is. I want to work on this on my trip. To not be thinking in the future about the next location, not thinking in the future about where we will eat, sleep etc. all of the time. Be present in the moment experiencing and enjoying where we are, what we are doing and how it feels, smells, sounds, and tastes. Cherishing each second with the understanding that that is all that we ever have. As Tolle said with a laugh, The future doesn't exist, you never get there. There is only always the now....

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