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#47: Lessons from Eckhart Tolle

Thanks so much for joining me in today's “Lessons from Eckhart Tolle.”

Here's a collection of links and a (mostly) complete transcript of my podcast if you're short on time and just want to skim.

The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment

Exkhart tolle, the power of now






A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose







Lessons from Eckhart Tolle

(a…mostly…verbatim transcript)

Hello, my friend. How are you doing today?
It’s still raining here in Northern California. I don’t want to complain because it’s wonderful to not be talking about drought. But it was really nice when we had a sunny day the other day. It made me appreciate that day so much more.
I want you to keep an open mind in this episode.
Today we’re talking about lessons from Eckhart Tolle. It took me a while to read his books because they just didn’t speak to me at the time.
That’s usually how it happens, right? The teacher appears when we’re ready.
The fun part about his books when I got to them was that I’d already created the foundation for them in my daily practices and the teachings were consistent with what I’d already learned, so I feel like I was much more ready for him when I opened the books.
That may be your experience with him too.
You may have heard of his New York Times Best Selling book The Power of Now or A New Earth, or heard him on Oprah. He actually broke down his book “A New Earth” in a series of shows with Oprah that I’ll link to in the show notes.
He’s known as a spiritual teacher, but I’m not approaching this podcast from that specific angle.

I’m going to share with you how he actually breaks down how our brain works and how, when we apply what he teaches, we can reduce stress. 

If you’ve been following a long with my podcasts, then you have a foundation for what we’re talking about. Even if you don’t, I’ll break down some of his lessons that will help you reduce overwhelm in your own life with some simple practices you can try every day.
Before I jump in, I want to tell you something I'm excited about right now.
I’ve revamped my website, and I’ve cleared my calendar, so I could make a couple things available to you.
First, if you’re a lawyer, then I’ve opened the 10 Day Lawyer Life Detox. For less than a cup of coffee a day, you can revamp your life and clear out old habits to make change in your life.
Second, whether you’re a lawyer or not, I have a few one-on-one coaching spots available right now. If you’ve been thinking about doing something big, but you’ve been procrastinating, then this may be for you. When I began seeking mentors to help me on my path, I discovered that they helped me get there faster than I possibly could on my own. There’s something about someone acting as your mirror to help you work through limiting beliefs to get you where you want to go.
Okay, so let’s talk about Mr. Tolle…

1. Give up the illusion that you are your mind

You are not your thoughts. You are the thinker of your thoughts. Therefore you can change your thoughts.
We get so attached to our thoughts that we begin to identify them.
I am a stressed person.
I am liberal person.
I am a conservative person.
I am a religious person.
I am not a religious person.
Give up the labels and feelings and just be a watcher of your thoughts.
Tolle says, “Identification with your mind creates an opaque screen of concepts, labels, images, words, judgments, and definitions that blocks all true relationship. It comes between you and yourself, between you and your fellow man and woman, between you and nature, between you and God. It is this screen of thought that creates the illusion of separateness.”
You know this is true just by being in the world. It’s so easy to label someone else as right or wrong, just or unjust, bad or good, attractive or unattractive.
And this is normal because that’s how our brain works when it’s on autopilot.
It’s like we come into this world with this incredibly powerful tool then we never bother to read the owner’s manual. In fact, we don’t even get an owner’s manual, and we have to figure things out on our own.
Now, if you’re Eckhart, he’d tell you that there are plenty of teachers in history who have tried to explain the owner’s manual to us: Jesus and Buddha are a couple that come to mind.
If we want to use this tool to its fullest advantage the first big thing we can do for ourselves is to release labels and observe how our mind thinks.

2. When you give up the illusion that you are your mind, you’re able to become the watcher or the witness.

Have you ever noticed that when you begin judging someone or something or you have a strong opinion about something, you get worked up? You actually feel energized like you could go on and on about a topic.
Eckhart would say that your mind is using you. That you’re its slave in that moment.
He says, “It’s not so much that you use your mind wrongly — you usually don’t use it at all. This is the disease. You believe you are your mind. (I’ll interject and say that you believe you are your thoughts.) This is the delusions. The instrument has taken you over.”
“The moment you start watching the thinker, a higher level of consciousness becomes activated.’
Now if you’ve meditated at all, and you begin observing your thoughts, you may have experienced this.
You also may have experienced this when you’re on a hike, and you look at something indescribable or majestic. Or if you go on a nature walk and rather than label things thinking, “Nice tree,” you just look at it, appreciate it.
We feel grounded, Centered, present, in the moment. Whatever word you want to use to describe that feeling. The important thing is that you feel more at peace.
It’s this quiet space that he calls a gap of “no-mind.” That’s pure consciousness. You actually feel that deeper indescribable self underneath all the chatter in our head.
I love this phrase from the Power of Now, “Thought cannot exist without consciousness, but consciousness does not need thought.”
One of the reasons I began doing the work on myself is because I wanted to feel more peace in my life. I knew theoretically what the tools were to get connected to that underlying consciousness, but I didn’t see the results until I implemented them regularly. And I still have to continuously do the work. This isn’t a one and done solution like you take a pill and suddenly you are consistently “present.” This is all a practice.
(My journaling practice helps me a lot with the practices I'm talking about in this episode. You can get the free template I created here:)

3. Our ego is what keeps us addicted to the chatter/thinking.

Eckhart describes the ego as a false self created by the unconscious identification with its thoughts.
I like to think about it as the little child running around in our head talking about what makes it feel good, bad, shame, fear. It’s always right, and someone else is always to blame when it feels bad. 
The ego is not about the present moment. It only cares about the past and the future. And when it seems to be chattering about the present, it’s actually making misinterpretations because it’s seeing everything through the past or what it ultimately wants in the future. 
He goes on to talk about what he terms the “pain-body.” The pain body is “the dark shadow cast by the ego.” I’m not going to go into how he talks about it in depth, but here’s the list of it. This part of our ego wants us to stay reactive rather than responsive to the world around us. It Our awareness of it is like kryptonite to it.
Any time you notice yourself become angry, snap at someone, or respond angrily to someone, your pain body/ego is at work.
That means being aware that our ego is impacting how we act is key. When we see what is happening, we see that we’re reacting.
If our goal is to reduce stress and overwhelm, then watching how we react to situations is important. Are we snapping at people because we feel stressed? Are we taking it out on others? Or do we simply notice it.
Because if we do the work and take more moments to notice what’s happening, we have more ability to change the thoughts we have to create the feelings we want.

4. Use your emotions to bring your thought patterns into awareness.

This is one we’ve talked about before on the podcast. We don’t usually notice that we’re having thoughts. We notice what we feel.
We feel hurt, love, shame. They can hit us deeply. Then it’s up to us to notice that and work our way backwards to see which thought or thoughts caused that feeling.
Feelings are physical reaction – an actual chemical reaction – that’s a product of our thoughts. Our thoughts really do create our reality.
One practice I do is a daily journalling practice. I’ll link to my podcast on journaling for high achievers because that’s what I do.
One of the questions I ask myself is how am I feeling. When I do that, it requires my brain to start noticing what thoughts are creating those feelings and helps me notice any unhelpful thought patterns I have.
So for example, if you’re feel shame about overspending on something you may consider unnecessary like a brand new car, ask yourself what thoughts you may be having to create that feeling. If you have the money, then why do you feel shame? Is it because you are afraid of what other people think of you? Is it because you don’t feel like you deserve nice things for one reason or another? Or if you don’t have the money for it, do you feel like you lack control over your spending? Is it because you’re trying to impress others?
We could go on and on. The point is, notice what you’re feeling and ask yourself what thoughts are causing that feeling.
You can do that throughout your day. When you notice you’re stressed, stop and ask yourself why? 
If you’re really motivated to do this, set your alarm for once an hour for a few days and during those pauses ask yourself what you’re feeling in that moment. Get still. Breath. You don’t even have to label the feeling if you don’t want to, the act of taking a moment during your workday to get still helps you have longer and longer moments of presence.

5. Stay in the material.

Okay, I didn’t read this in his books, but it’s a takeaway that we all need.
You and I live in the real world. We aren’t hobbits living in the Shire, we aren’t monks in a monastery. We go to an office where things are moving a million miles a minute, and sometimes we feel like we have very little control over what’s going on in our life.
But that’s not really true.
We have control. Our decisions got us to this point in our life, and our decisions moving forward will get us he results we work towards.
If one of the results you want is to reduce stress and be more in the moment, then you can consciously choose to use the tools available to you through the magic of the internet to help you on your path.
If one of the results you want is to reduce your weight and feel healthier, the same thing applies.
No matter what we want, we can make conscious decisions to get there, but we need to continually work on ourselves. There is no one and done solution.
Oprah actually said that she had A New Earth on her bedstead and reads from it consistently, so that she can be reminded of Eckhart Tolle’s teachings.
This is a marathon not a sprint. We must steadily reach for those things that serve us and release those things that do not if we want to design the life we deserve to have. The life we know we can have.
I could do multiple podcasts on what Eckhart Tolle teaches.
I haven’t even touched on some of the energetic and spiritual teachings he talks about. There’s so much to his work, and I highly recommend his work. I’ll link to everything we’ve talked about in the show notes.
I hope this has piqued your interest, and maybe you want to learn more about this kind of work.
There’s some additional resources that I’ll link to in the show notes, so you can see what resonates with you.
I hope you have a wonderful rest of your week, and I’ll talk to you again soon!

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