If you’ve read my stuff you know that I’m a huge Eckhart Tolle fan. His teachings, his overall bearing…everything about the guy.
Eckhart has said and written many things that have resonated in the deepest parts of me, including my favorite:
“Awareness is the greatest agent for change.”
I wrote a whole piece about that one, which you can find here.
But coming close behind is his saying:
“Accept this moment as it is.”
Why? Because accepting each moment as it is would be a profound gamechanger for most of the 7.7 billion lives currently inhabiting our planet. And that’s because most people don’t accept each moment as it is.
What do most of us do with most of the moments of our lives? We resist them. And we’re not even aware that we’re resisting them. Just becoming aware of that would be an immense step forward.
Outcome and process
What do I mean by resisting the moments of our lives? How about this? Do you or someone you know work your buns off at your job, always with an eye toward a future payoff — be it more money so you can live in a better house, drive a better car or become more powerful?
Where the outcome is all that matters and the process, what you’re actually doing in your moments, is always secondary. Your present moments always sacrificing for future moments that will be AWESOME…but that rarely seem to arrive.
In America it’s actually considered virtuous to say, “I’m never satisfied. I’m always working hard to get somewhere. The day I feel satisfied is the day I lose my mojo!” If you’re constantly resisting the moments of your life to “get somewhere,” that you never seem to get to, what’s the point?
Accepting our moments during the day
This work example is global in nature. So how about some everyday examples? You’re in line at the grocery checkout and you’re anxious and fidgety. Why? Because you don’t want to be in the moments you’re in. You can’t wait to get to the future moments you’ll experience once you get home with the groceries, put them away, then sit in front of the television watching the news, beer in hand. Or you’re on a plane and you resist all those moments because you can’t wait to arrive at your destination.
There are countless examples of these everyday situations where we resist the moments at hand. And they may sound trivial. But when we examine them closely, we see that we spend an inordinate proportion of our moments in a state of resistance.
How does that manifest inside us? It produces an insidious, persistent, mild, anxious feeling. Something we feel most of the time. It’s a feeling that things are never quite right.
What we can do about it
Is there anything we can do about this? Heck yes. And it’s not that hard.
As with virtually anything involving our inner world, the first step is to follow that other fantastic Eckhart saying:
“Awareness is the greatest agent for change.”
That’s it. Make a point of using your will to become aware when you’re resisting the moments you’re in. For most people it is fairly constant.
Catch yourself waiting
One helpful pointer Eckhart offers is to be become aware any time you find yourself waiting. For anything.
Think about it. When we’re waiting, it almost always sets up a scenario inside us where we say, and feel:
“Once I get through these moments of waiting to get through the checkout/to get home for dinner/to get that job promotion…then I can relax and feel good when those future moments arrive. But until such time, I’m going to resist these moments spent in waiting.”
So the practice is to continually ask yourself: “Am I resisting this moment? If so, what am I resisting?” Then just say and feel inside, “I accept this moment as it is.”
A crucial point is that you’re not telling yourself to love and feel joy every moment of your life. That’s impossible. You’re merely saying:
“Hey. Life brought me this moment. That’s what is. I can either resist it or accept it. I choose to accept it.”
If you do this, it’ll be a big deal. Why? Because you’ll feel a ton of anxious guck just melt away from your gut. Practicing this has been one of the most tangible benefits I’ve received from my meditation and mindfulness practice.
Use this in your meditation
Speaking of meditation, if you’re a regular practitioner or plan on being one, this will do wonders for your sessions. How? When doing mindfulness meditation, while you’re simply noticing whatever is in your field of awareness, you just keep at the forefront of your being, “I accept everything happening in this moment just as it is. I don’t need to change a single thing.”
That could be a persistent ache in your shoulder, a lawnmower blaring outside your window or a slight pang of anxiety in your gut. Doesn’t matter. They’re all just things happening in that moment and you accept them completely.
I actually add a word to Eckhart’s dictum and I encourage you to do so as well. I say, “I accept everything in this moment EXACTLY as it is.” The ‘exactly’ drives home the point for me that the way things are in a given moment don’t need to be changed one iota. We’re just there, in our meditation sessions AND in our daily lives, a conscious presence experiencing, exactly as they are, the moments the universe has brought us.
Flush out the anxiety
And again, I can’t emphasize enough how much doing that will result in a flushing out of a ton of anxious feelings that will make you feel lighter and better.
Another way of looking at it is that when we accept the moments of our lives as they are, we flow with life and the universe; and when we resist our moments we fight against life and the universe.
Flow with the river
The life as river metaphor captures this beautifully. We can either flow with the river and enjoy the ease and peace that brings, or we can constantly try to swim upriver against the current and incur the psychic exhaustion and frustration that creates.
The takeaway: We can continue resisting the vast majority of the moments of our lives or we can use our will to become aware when we’re resisting and then decide to accept those moments exactly as they are.
It’s our choice.