6 Ways of Letting Go of the Past and Embracing the Power of Now

present moment
“Don’t let the past steal your present.” Terri Guillemets

I have a confession to make.

Anyone who reads my blog knows that I write a lot about pain and heartbreak, inspired primarily by a painful and heart–shattering divorce.

Over the last couple years, divorce has taken me to the depths of my sanity, led me to question my very being and forced me to confront the deepest suffering.

Without question, this life event has held me back, kept me down and paralyzed my life.

It’s a subject I wrote about often, talked about often and thought about, even dreamt about, more often.

I allowed my agonizing thoughts to dominate my life as I embarked upon a steep path of growth and revitalization in my life.

Now that I can look back with a little more clarity, I can see how I replaced a person (my former spouse) with pain. How I made heartbreak and sorrow my companions.

Through a chance conversation with a childhood friend, I was re-introduced late last year to the one author and book that had previously touched my life.

You may also have read this ultimate guide to and celebration of living in the present moment: The Power of Now, by the soft-spoken spiritual teacher, Eckhart Tolle.

Tolle’s message of living in the present moment packs a punch of clarity, wisdom and absolute truth.

How do you live in the present moment?

It’s easy and sometimes even pleasurable to get caught up and live in our past.

You’ve likely experienced struggle, heartbreak, loneliness, failure and loss.

But you know what’s worse than experiencing any of these events once in your life?

Painfully replaying each of these moments over and over again in your mind.

In The Power of Now, Tolle reminds us that we don’t have to replay the horror, the pain, and sorrow of our pasts repeatedly in our minds.

6 “living in the moment” strategies Tolle shares in The Power of Now:

You probably aren’t going to spend another week of your life re-reading Tolle (although I highly recommend it) and it will likely take us all a couple lifetimes to fully understand Tolle’s reflections.

I’m going to take to try to take out the Tolle-speak and seemingly dense spiritual concepts and explain The Power of Now as I understood it.

Here are 6 practical and actionable steps Tolle suggests.

If you simply implement one of the strategies below and shift your mindset, I promise you that your life will change forever.

1. Stop thinking. “What the…!?” you’re wondering as you read this line…

Tolle provides a solution to reoccurring sadness and pain in your life.  Your thoughts continue to replay in your mind like your favorite iTunes track.

Each replay is a swift reminder and a continuation of past pain.

“When you listen to that voice, listen to it impartially. That is to say, do not judge…You’ll soon realize: there is the voice, and here I am listening to it, watching it,” Tolle writes.

So sit and become aware of your life’s darkest moments repeating themselves in your thoughts.

In the course of your day, when you feel sadness and loss, just call your thoughts out: “There you go again, mind! Taking me through this roller coaster of emotions. Replaying that sad and tragic past once again…”

Stop the mental replay by becoming aware of the negative.

When you stop thinking of or re-playing painful events in your mind, Tolle says, “You’re no longer energizing the mind through identification with it. This is the beginning of the end of involuntary and compulsive thinking.”

Action: Watch your mind. Or watch for feelings of sadness and pain throughout the day. When you are feeling sorrow or pain, immediately call out the thoughts that led you there.

Thinking about your difficult childhood, the loss of a loved one, your pet dying?

Shine a flashlight on these sneaky thieves wandering around the dark alleys of your mind.

2.    Be highly alert in the present moment.

Well, geez, how do you do that? By being completely present in any activity or conversation you are in.

Ask yourself, “Am I in the present moment?” in whatever it is that you’re doing.

Am I focusing on the task at hand?”

Am I here or are my thoughts floating in la la land?”

Give normal and everyday activities your full and utmost attention.

As an example, Tolle writes, “Every time you walk up and down the stairs in your house or place of work, pay close attention to every step, every moment, even your breathing. Be totally present.

Do this while you’re walking around town, getting in and out of the elevator, walking to the train station or wandering around the grocery store.

Be present in every moment by paying as much attention as possible to that moment.

3.    Become aware of the pain-body within you.

Tolle defines the pain-body as lingering emotional pain.

He notes that some of us live entirely through our pain-body, whereas in others, the pain-body may be asleep 90% of the time.

For example, I used to be preoccupied with the pain of breaking up about 90% of the time.

My pain-body became ever more important in my life because it gave me a troubling new sense of self.

In the past couple of years, I have spent less time thinking about and experiencing the pain-body of loss and heartache.

When you and I become our pain-bodies, we have something to identify with.

“I’m the person who suffered loss.”

“I’m heart-broken.”

“I’m that person who failed financially.

After marinating in this identity, you get swept over by a wave of pain, sadness and sorrow, and it supplies you with your identity. Your ego identifies with this pain-body and your pain becomes your self-image. You become your past, your loss and your hurt.

Once this pain-body has taken you over, you want more pain. You become a victim or a perpetrator. You want to inflict pain, or you want to suffer pain, or both…” Tolle reflects.

So, how do you dissolve this pain-body?

Tolle summarizes this process: “Focus attention on the feeling inside you. Know that it is the pain-body. Accept that it is there. Don’t think about it…don’t judge or analyze. Don’t make yourself an identity out of it.”

“Stay present and continue to be the observer of what is happening inside you…This is the power of the Now, the power of your own conscious presence.”

4.    Be aware of the difference between your “life” and “life situation.”

Tolle makes a distinction between your life and your life’s circumstances or situations. He refers to life situations as “psychological time.” Life situations are the past and the future.

You resist what happened to you in the past, don’t accept it in the present and are anxious about the future.

Whatever is happening to you is your life situation, which happened in the past or could happen sometime in the future. Both of those places aren’t the present moment.

Tolle says you could have a lot of situational problems, and most lives are filled with them, but you should find complete comfort and peace in the present moment.

Use your senses fully. Be where you are. Look around. Just look, don’t interpret. See the lights shapes, colors, textures. Be aware of the silent presence of each thing…” Tolle gently nudges us.

You don’t have to identify with or be defined by your past.

If you accept the present moment, you can deal with those situations as they are.

You can’t change what has happened and what is coming your way: past and future.

All you have at this exact moment is something that needs to be dealt with or accepted. That’s it! “Why make it into a problem?” Tolle inquires.

“All it takes is a simple choice, a simple decision: no matter what happens, I will create no more pain for myself. I will create no more problems.”

Although Tolle says this is a simple choice, I’m certain if you adapt this philosophy and start living it, your life will completely transform. You’ll be a new person who will no longer be crushed by the weight of the past or the future.

5.    Drop negativity like a piece of hot coal.

For more happiness and peace of mind, Tolle proposes letting go of negativity.

“How do you drop a piece of hot coal that you are holding in your hand? How do you drop some heavy useless baggage that you are carrying? By recognizing that you don’t want to suffer the pain or carry the burden anymore and then letting go of it.”

You have a choice to be entrenched in your past or to live for the moment that you have right in front of you.

Often we’re chock-full of negativity in our life because we refuse to accept something that happened in the past or are resisting something occurring in the current moment.

Tolle’s suggestion is to choose the current moment and accept what is, choosing to let go of the heavy baggage and drop the hot coals by consciously choosing to let go of the pain of the past.

When you let go of the pain surrounding the past and the negativity associated with it, you will find an ever-present peace of mind in the present moment.

6. Let go of the future. I sure love the future, don’t you? What’s not to love about it?

In my future, there is happiness, bliss, abundance and eternal joy.

Of course, Tolle bursts all our bubbles and insists on prying the future out of our hands.

Forget the future, he says:

‘When I obtain this or am free of that – then I will be okay’. This is the unconscious mind-set that creates the illusion of salvation in the future,” Tolle writes.

Sure, we could find peace, happiness, and fulfillment some day, or we could scratch that futuristic thinking and chose to have all of that in this very moment.

You don’t need to go anywhere to find this joyful state of being.

“You ‘get’ there by realizing you are there already,” is one of the most powerful Eckhart Tolle quotes in the Power of Now.

I devoured this book once a long while back, but this past year, I really started to understand it, and it’s been a life-changer.

You can CHOOSE to let go of your past pain and suffering.

Become aware of how those past misfortunes resonate with negative feelings, thoughts and emotions.

You suffered once, why suffer again?

The future is a whole other story that isn’t here – you can’t do anything about, can’t change it, can’t guarantee happiness in it. You don’t even know if you’ll be there when you get there. So why live for a tomorrow that may never come?

Live for the present. Live in this very moment.

Change your mindset and accept this very moment. Right now, chose to be happy, choose to let go, to lift that heavy burden off your shoulders and release the heaviness of the past and future this very minute.

Give yourself permission to breathe in and breathe out with peace of mind, acceptance and emotional freedom.

Would it be too much to call this enlightenment?

What are you doing at this very moment? Are you being fully present and going to leave a comment below ? 🙂 Tell me about your experiences or strategies for letting go of the past. 

59 Comments

  1. Wonderful, Vishnu. Your summary beats the heck out of re-reading the book 🙂 I do strive to be right here with you in the Present, and at the very least I can feel myself veering off into the future or the past (and somehow, it’s never a GOOD thing, is it?) Correcting course every time we find ourselves “not here” is a practice that yields benefits and gets easier as we practice. I remember when I got divorced it was very painful for a short time, but now when I look back I have zero emotion attached to it and see it for what it was – I hope you find your peace with your experience and send you lots of love.

    1. Thank you for your comment, Julie, and for sharing your experience (and for your love!) Tolle is an interesting writer and character:) so his book can be a little lethargic but with such hard-hitting truths.

      It never is a good thing but it is what we tend to spend a good portion of our life doing. Yes, it does take practice and I think that initial mindset shift was most helpful. The mindset of “I’m going to chose to live today (and in this moment) and now allow the past or future to hijack the present moment”

      I think I’m definitely find more peace as I’ve let the past be where it belongs – in the past 🙂

  2. In my meditations this morning, I asked for guidance on how I could let go of this past baggage that keeps coming up over my family. And here you are! I love the abundance the universe brings to us, if we only ask. Thank you for reminding me that I have had the power all along <3

    1. Thank you, Tracy! We do have that power and that power is in the present moment, Tolle helped me see.

      IN this very moment, nothing exists but now. Yesterday’s baggage should be lost baggage – it’s an illusion, Tracy. Why do we continue to replay something that no longer exists? And allow that past to continue to harm us. We have a choice, Tolle helped me see, to not replay what happened in the past. After that initial shift in perspective, life got a lot less heavy:) Now, I try not to look for that missing baggage.

      Wishing you all the presence of today!

  3. I agree with Julie, what a terrific summary/post. Even though you gave an overview, I’m definitely putting this book on my list and tackling it next 🙂 Sounds awesome.

    1. Chris, yes, it’s definitely worth a read. It just can be a little on the overwhelming side of things sometimes because it’s packed with so much truth. Let me know how you find it. Thanks for reading and your comment.

  4. Great info! And definitely helpful if one is going through painful emotional stuff that really doesn’t lie in one’s hands at all. The painful stuff that I undergo is that I have lots of “challenges” that need to be planned for eg. firing staff, finding a better replacement, various items that require repair/correction for my work to be carried out, children requiring help with stuff that they need to know “for the future”, school related work. It can be quite overwhelming for me and brings on feelings of despair that it’s a never ending story, constantly sitting on the phone organising things (often to no avail), constantly trying to be pro-active because if I’m not, there is a steeeeeep price to be paid, constantly dealing with all manners of folk who need me to be friendly, patient and accessible (horrors!!!). Essentially a huge boredom overcomes me at the end of the day. How does all of this fit in to “present moment thinking” and only thinking about what I do now I wonder …….. ?

    1. Aviva, thank you for commenting and welcome. I’m going to channel Tolle and try to answer this question based on my understanding of accepting the present moment.

      It sounds like you’re calling the type of work you’re doing “painful” because it is overwhelming and brings on a feeling of despair because you can never get it done. And ultimately it brings you a lot of boredom.

      So, Tolle would say, you can accept or resist every moment that comes up because all positive and negative moments are the same. But if you don’t like the moment and find yourself in a state of resistance, then I think Tolle would advise doing something to change that reality you face. So, if this is overwhelming work, the next question becomes – how do you sort out the day so you are able to manage it? Or how do you sort out your mindset and simply accept that work is never going to get done every day. What you can do is what you can do. And that’s it.

      If that’s not a long term strategy and the pain is more regular and daily, then looking at your situation and seeing if you can change it might be the other way to go. Accepting that moment that you’re not in a good place but then deciding to take some positive action to change that situation.

      The worst would be doing work you don’t like, resisting it but continuing to do it. The advice is essentially change your mindset about the work in front of you to become more accepting of it or take some action to change the type of work you’re doing. I hope this helps. Sending you much peace and presence.

  5. Hi Vishnu,

    I totally, completely agree with you that all the power of letting go our painful past and negative thoughts lies within our mind (my latest post says that) and I have written about it earlier also.

    While it is quite easy to read books and find inspiration to detach from the past, in real life it takes us months, sometimes years to accomplish what appears to be easy to those who have never experienced emotional hurts or those who are not sensitive enough to feel it as intensely as some do.

    I am so glad to know that you have dumped the baggage of past and moved on. I know it requires a lot of forbearance, fortitude and effort to forgive those who bring about those unbearable moments but if we determine to forget, if we stop thinking about them and let life take its own course, we are able to detach not only from past but also from memories of those traumatic moments.

    Thanks Vishnu…for the Virtues!

    1. Hi Balroop – I enjoyed your thoughts on the subject of letting go of our past and thank you for commenting here. Letting go of the past does vary for each person and I think books do help inspire present moment living. Although it’s not simply as easy as consuming a book or two.

      Yes, letting go of the traumatic past moments has allowed me to move forward. It gets easier with time and books like this one helped shift my perspective more. Glad you enjoyed it and thank you for your comment again.

  6. Number 4 is my favourite of them all – this is just a phase. I wish someone had just told me this repeatedly when I was going through the crap I went through a few years ago ! It would have taken the sting out of the situation for sure.

    Vishnu – I picked up My Tolle’s book once, when a friend recommended it to me. I couldn’t get past the first page! So thanks for breaking it down and saving me reading time! Whoot !

    1. Yes, sometimes it would have helped if people told us stuff like this an would have avoided pain. But Tolle’s “awakening” and our understanding and realizations may have all come through what we experienced. Sometimes, we get woken up by experiencing painful circumstances. Tolle’s realizations came after a major bout with depression and suicidal thoughts. Then, he decided he couldn’t tolerate the pain and suffering anymore and came to these concepts he talks about in the book.

      I felt like how you did the first time around with the Power of Now. I really think having a friend who truly understood the essence of Tolle, explaining it to me, made all the difference. If you want to fall asleep quick, listen to Tolle’s voice on the audio book format:)

  7. Thank you for the fab summary. A useful piece to refer to since I don’t have the book with me anymore. Pain-body is something I do struggle with. I think I have done away with it but pain is not merely social pain, it is often intermingled with spiritual pain–an almost cosmic loneliness that I find hard to shake off.
    Same problem with living in the present moment. I do I think but at some level it has become a very aloof present moment where nothing grips, nothing holds like a wave that recedes from the shore. I have not come to terms with living in present moment and living in itself. Any thoughts on these issues I would deeply appreciate.

    1. Hey Bhavana – I would say it’s a matter of awareness and acceptance. Continually observing the pain body, feeling it and being present to it. Being open and aware of it. Not resisting it. Acknowledging it as you feel it in your physical being.

      All you have to do is acknowledge the pain body without judgment and embrace the present moment. And if you’re experiencing cosmic loneliness, experience that to the fullest extent. You don’t have to shake it off – you just have to embrace it. And I think the more intently and intensely you do so, eventually any pain dissolves.

      Interesting you say that nothing grips and nothing holds – a wave that recedes from the shore. I think if that’s the case, you’re already there. Nothing sticks. The shore feels the water in the present moment and then recedes until the next moment. If I was to guess, you might already be fully embracing the present moment but might not feel you’re there. YOu might very well be there but because you haven’t experience it before, might not know that you are there.

      As Tolle says – “You get there by realizing you are already there.” What do you think – I’m open to a follow up 🙂

    1. Thanks Lori – if we can catch ourselves as we go into the past or drift into the future, that by itself is a start! Catching our states of non-presence and awareness that we are not in the present moment is probably a big first step towards present-moment living.

      Also, I’m realizing that we have a choice about where we are. In the book, a questioner tells Tolle that they insist on being in the past and Tolle says – go for it – you have that choice. You can continue to replay past pain and suffer or simply opt not too. Easy as that!

      And one of the most touching videos I’ve watched recently was by Tolle’s partner and co-teacher, Kim Eng, which explains suffering and inspires us to live in the present moment. I would like to share it with you here, Lori: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3SnJzuHCtqk

  8. Hey Vishnu, Tolle’s wisdom contains much truth. Like Razwana, I have found Tolle a difficult read, but what you’ve shared here is really enlightening! Thank you.

  9. For this year I’ve named “Watch,” this is the perfect inspiration for me, Vishnu. It is all about living in the present moment and taking it all in for everything it offers.
    Think I’ll have to read Tolle’s book, too! 🙂
    Blessings to you!

    1. Thanks Martha – if you do get a chance to read it, please let me know what you think about it. So glad you’re ‘watching’ and living in the present moment in 2014.

  10. Hi Vishnu!
    Great post with perfect timing! This is one of the most powerful things I’ve read in a long time!

    I love what you write about witnessing the thoughts without becoming them. It’s such a powerful tool. I recently started using EMDR and I find that this notion keeps being repeated: the ability to feel our emotions and the ability to witness them without judgment.

    Your comment on Pain-Body also resonated with me. It’s so easy to become our emotions and create a story out of it. I’m learning how I’ve been attracting people and situations that mirror beliefs I developed as a child. I carry them with me, feel them, and identify myself through them. What you said really echoed my new way of being. It certainly takes practice!

    It truly is a choice. Why suffer twice. I’ll definitely be coming back to this post a few times 🙂
    Thanks again!
    Amita

    1. Hey Amita – I wish I could take all the credit lol but I can’t take much of it – it’s all the wisdom of our man, Eckhart! When you get to the crux of his message, it is filled with so much light and truth. And if you want to get to the crux of his book, I should recommend to you and others the condensed and to the point version of the Power of Now – a book called Practicing the Power of Now which is the shorter and crisper version of the Power of Now.

      Looks like your realizations, insights and practices are taking you through a period of significant growth. I’m glad you liked the review and that it resonated with you at this point and time.

      Thank you again.

  11. “The Power Of Now” is one of my favorite books of all time and was so life changing and healing for me. It made me realize that I had been torturing myself for years. Yes, all of the “bad” stuff happened, but I was the one who kept hurting myself with it over and over.

    It was also a huge “aha” for me to realize that I was not my thoughts and to begin observing them and not just react unconsciously which kept my pain body fed and my life in chaos.

    Coming back into the present moment is a tool that works every time for me.

    Great synopsis of Tolle’s concepts. Thanks for the link to my blog! 🙂

    1. Lot of good insights and reflections you’ve had Debbie, inspired by the Power of Now. Glad to hear that present moment living works and that you too were able to see the illusion of our thoughts. Thank you for sharing.

  12. Thank you for this courageous, helpful and TIMELY article! I had a birthday recently and did not receive a call, eCard, or birthday wish from anyone, not even my family. I worked several of my jobs and cleaned the house like it was any other day but inside I’ve been throwing the biggest PITY party instead of birthday party. I was feeling insignificant, unloved and worthless and actually entertained the thought of not being around anymore. This post came right on time with a message I NEEDED to hear. But man I feel like my hands are hard to pry from that hot coal because I’ve been holding different versions of it for so long 😉

    Thank you.

    1. Debi – Glad the article resonated and thank you for sharing the story of your birthday. Needing to have people in our lives, the negative thoughts that run through our minds and wanting our situations to be different are all illusions. Tolle reminds us that we just have to accept whatever is in front of us – he tells us a story in the book about a monk not getting enlightened for most of his life. Then one day, in a meat market, he overhears this conversation between a meat seller and buyer. The buyer wants the best piece of meat and the seller says every piece of meat is the best piece of meat. And monk became enlightened but the bigger point was that every moment is the best moment that we have. ONly when we compare that moment to the past or future or compare it with the lives of others, does that moment begin to lose its luster. If we can simply accept what is, without referencing all the negativity that pops up, we would have more peace of mind and joy.

      It is hard like you say because we have been practicing living in illusion and other moment living for so long. Now, when my mind goes to past thoughts or future ones, I remind myself those are illusions and things I cannot do anything about. I can only deal with what is in front of me right now. Thank you again Debi for your comment.

  13. The ideas that Eckhart Tolle writes about in his books have been life changing for me, Vishnu! I learned so much from “The Power of Now” as well as from “The New Earth.” The idea of living in the present moment was a concept that I was not utilizing in my life, before reading his work.

    I felt that I was just putting one foot in front of the other and hoped that someday in the future I would be truly happy. When you can let go of all the negativity and the anxiety about what will come, life can be so much more peaceful and joyous! Thanks for sharing this amazing book!

    1. Thanks for your comment Cathy and glad to hear that Tolle had such an impact on your life as well to the point that it was a life changer! Yes, not thinking about the past or future, lessens our anxiety and the emotional baggage we have to carry around. We can be happy today, Tolle reminds us by simply confronting and accepting what’s in front of us.

  14. Thanks for the synopsis of the book – I’m interested in reading it after reviewing your blog. Every time I read your posts I come away with something that is helpful and inspiring. It is a great resource that provides some guidance and insight at a time when things can seem confusing and uncertain.

    1. Dan, can’t tell you how much I appreciate your comment and feedback. Glad that you’re finding the posts helpful and yes, pick up the book if you get a chance. Lot of good youtube videos of Tolle speaking as well.

      Life is always confusing and uncertain. I know that more than anyone else. lol I guess all we can do is learn to accept what comes up in front of us without judgment or resistance. If we simply live for the present moment and not judge, compare the moment or reminisce on the past, we’ll be ok. Shifting that mindset is a little difficult but doable.

      Thanks for your visit and friendship.

  15. Hi Vishnu,

    This was a wonderful summary of Eckhart Tolle’s key lessons from The Power of Now and I really enjoyed reading your explanation of each.

    I have to admit that The Power of Now is probably the most transforming book I’ve ever read. I remember some years back I used to listen to the audio version on the way to work, again and again over a number of weeks. I started to live totally in the present moment. Then once, I was in a yoga class, during final relaxation. Something happened in my mind, where I completely dissociated from my ego and I was totally in the present. Everything and everyone around became totally alive and and my senses become super sharp, and there was no sense of thinking or pain. The feeling didn’t last long, but that was my first taste of enlightenment and inspired me to get into meditation.

    Thanks for writing such a wonderful article, Vishnu!

    1. Hiten – I love the way Tolle impacted your life and completely changed it. I knew you were a pretty enlightened guy:) and now I know why!

      Tolle would say you are enlightened every time you live in the present moment. “You get there by realizing you already are there” is one of his quotes I absolutely love.

      After my friend re-introduced me to Tolle, and for the past several weeks, I’ve been listening to Tolle in the car and watching his videos online. He just has this ability to break down profound truths to simple nuggets of wisdom. And reminds us that present moment living is easy not hard. I think this book has been transformative for me as well. Thanks for sharing your journey and reflections of the impact of Tolle on your life.

  16. Hey V,

    Timely and wise as always. Thanks for the reminder to live for the present. Tonight, I realized that someone I’ve long admired isn’t so admirable after all. Hmm, So and So changed, I thought. A sad realization. I spent 20 minutes on Memory Lane, recalling things I’d admired about how this person lived and acted. Then I realized that this person hasn’t changed. I haven’t really, either. What I admire has changed! In order to truly live in the present and to mold the kind of future I want, I should spend more time with those I truly admire…those who inspire me to be a better person today. Thanks for your beautiful reminder, V!

    1. Thank you Jody Lamb – always enjoy seeing you drop by here.

      Glad you had this realization of living more in the present moment. As you found, you have to be and accept wherever you are in life. Not how someone was in the past or could be in the future. I’m impressed that you only went down memory lane for 20 minutes. I guess if thoughts of the person or their qualities come up again in the future, trying to let go of further analysis, comparisons or what-if’s is the way to go.

      And on a side note – you don’t need too many people to inspire you JL – you’re pretty inspirational yourself. I would say spending more time with people you admire should include lots of “you-time” 🙂

  17. Hi Vishnu

    Some food for thought here. Thanks for the tips. I specially liked that drop negativity like u drop hot coal 🙂
    I need to practice this quite often
    Reading ur blog regularly now

    Stay blessed

    1. Yes, I like that concept too. Any time we move into a negative state, we are reminded we are not being in the present moment.

      Glad to have you on board and thanks for reading! I have a post coming up next week I would definitely like your thoughts and perspective on 🙂

  18. You impress the heck out of me Vishnu. What a journey into a lighter and more loving way to live. Kudos to you. You’ve really put into practice what you read that resonated with you in Eckhart Tolle’s book…truth be told I enjoyed your synopsis more than I enjoyed his book!

    I remember reading something that Neville said about focusing on the past is merely to reinfect ourselves every time we go there. It sort of put me off from visiting past hurts and sorrows! Thanks for this wonderful read. 🙂

    1. haha Thanks Elle – what if Tolle and all spiritual wisdom could be synthesized into practical and understandable content. It’s not that complicated, right 🙂 !! Thanks for sharing that Neville quote – definitely a lot of wisdom there.

  19. Being self-aware of our past hurts (because sometimes they are hidden deep within our soul) is something we all have to do. To move forward and have a better future requires being a healthy person, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Taking the time to work through our past issues can allow us to be healthy. Great thoughts in this post!

    1. Hey Dan, yes being more aware of our past and working through the past are necessary steps to live in the present. But once we get here, no need to keep going back to old hurts and wounds. Appreciate your feedback as always.

  20. Vishnu, this really was an excellent post. It really helped me because I used to feel very alone in my mental negativity cycle.. It takes some serious awareness to call the negativity out and change the pattern. I have found that the power of forgiveness (me forgiving others and myself) is amazing in robbing the chronic negativity of its power… Thanks for the great tools in this post…

    1. Your welcome, Bjorn. Glad that youv’e been able to work through the negativity and changed the patterns in your life. That plus the power of forgiveness are two for sure formulas to live more in the present moment. Thanks for your feedback and comment.

  21. Strategy for Letting Go of the Past? ~ Well, one friend came up to me and encouraged me to write it as a post. I think more than the pain of the experience is the shame that comes along with it. My friend made me ‘see’ things realistically. That helped a lot.

    The other day, I felt my spiritual friend asking me again about my past ~ the way I related it to him was quite different now. I don’t feel the pain anymore. I guess I could call myself free.

    I believe in the power of now. I haven’t read any of Tolle’s books though, but I guess the concept is not new.

    Live in the present moment and let go of the future ~ perhaps there’s an element of ‘surrender’ there. Perhaps, when we allow God to enter into our lives, light is shed in the dark areas of our lives.

    Thanks for this great post Vishnu 🙂

    1. I’m telling you M, that friend of yours is truly brilliant. hahaha (kidding!!)

      But I am glad you blogged about your past and became free of it. And I’m so happy to hear that there is no more pain with a past that is now no more hurtful. In fact, it makes you even more unique, stronger and more remarkable of a person when you embrace your past but don’t allow it to define you.

      There’s definitely an element of surrender there. Tolle references a place of nothingness. When we embrace the present, he says we embrace the nothingness. And in that nothingness is everything. And that nothingness he alludes to spirituality, God, etc but he’s hesitant to call it that. The book is a very spiritual book and you are a very spiritual person!

      Glad to have you here visiting and sharing your insights as always.

  22. Sorry to hear about your experience. Indeed setbacks or other painful experiences in our lives put a stop on our energies and somehow if we do not go out of our way to crush the negativity, we will be taken and eaten by it!

    I like your suggestions on self-awareness. I used to brood over the past and even whatever happened a few seconds ago. and that lead me to some kind of obsessive-compulsion kind of thing! Haha. Good thing it never progressed. I had to put a stop on it. I learned somewhere the technique of ‘go cold turkey’. That is, just simply throw it out of your mind and never again mind that topic, thought or anything to do with it. and voila, it goes away. But it had to take a lot of painful ‘letting go’.

    1. Thanks for your comment and sharing your experience, Rob. Yes, it can be done cold turkey or working through the past as well. That’s a question that has come up as I’ve been reading the comments and reflecting more on Tolle. Can you go cold turkey to the present or is there some kind of emotional healing that needs to occur before you stop thinking about the past? You make the case for throwing it out of your mind and never bringing it up again. Although the letting go was painful, I have a feeling you’re completely happy with where you are today.

  23. Hey Vishnu!

    I listened to Tolle’s Power of Now many times when I was 18-19. He has a funny voice and that bell sound he uses is a clever way of anchoring presence to a sound. Very clever indeed.

    What am I doing now?

    — Reading and commenting on your post, but keeping the majority of my focus in my stomach and on my breathing. Making sure that I am not doing shallow upper-body breathing. It’s working.

    1. hahahahha you must have been in a real bad spot to be reading Tolle at such an early age, Ludwig, or an enlightened soul in the making. He either anchors you to the present or puts you sound asleep!!

      I am so glad that you were super present when you were commenting here. I am too. And thank you for commenting and your visit as always.

  24. Dear Vishnu,

    This is one of the best posts I have read from you. I read it several times because each time, it brought a different inner awakening. One of the first things I did was to order the book, Power of Now, because I simply had to after reading this.

    Sharing my thoughts on your post:
    Letting go of the past is one of the most difficult and painful initiatives one can undertake – it requires you to do a lot of introspection, contemplation and cleansing .

    In the last couple of months, I have been practicing silence, daily meditation and letting go of anything that clutters my mind space. Deactivating Facebook a/c was step number 1. It helped me tremendously to focus on my priorities and helped me to find time to do the things I always wanted to do.

    None of this means that everything is rosy and perfect – the learning curve has seen a spike than it has in several years – a good sign. Miles to go, of course.

    For instance, one of my main ’emotional’ difficulties is that I give 100% to my relationships, expect nothing in return but I become emotionally attached to the relationships I invest my energy into. Detachment is essential to progress on the spiritual path and as a person – after all, I can’t keep cluttering my mind with worries about 100 other people’s welfare but I do. I see their happiness as my responsibility and I think that takes a toll on me.

    But I must say that reading this post has reinforced my feeling that I am treading on the right track. Keep writing, Vishnu.

    1. Swapna, thanks so much for your comment. I wish I could take credit for Tolle’s work haha but just a translator and reader of his wisdom. I’m glad that it encouraged you to pick up the book – I hope you will find it to be a life-changer as well and I hope that I’ve been able to distill his wisdom accurately. If I haven’t or even if I have, you should consider a Power of Now review and write-up as well.

      You absolutely are trending on the right track of not being responsible for other people’s happiness. And it’s only fitting on Facebook’s birthday (today) that you’ve disengaged your account. I can see the positive sides of that. As well as other activities to let go of cluttering up your mind which is essentially to stop thinking (as Tolle points out) Our thoughts love to eat us up and take on an identity of its own. So glad that you’re already at a point of learning to let go.

      I think detachment is essential to spiritual progress. And I think using the power of now in your relationships can work as well. For example, when you invest in a relationship, you are being present and giving. But later, being present and giving is not thinking about the reciprocation or welfare of others. You cannot be responsible for other people’s happiness because you have no control over that. By thinking about that, you are being taken away from present moment living.

      So I think it’s just a reminder to come back to the present moment and be where we are. Accept what is and be where we are, continuously striving to be wherever we are (and not in a place that doesn’t exist – a past or future that is illusory)

  25. Letting go of the past… All I could think is how to let go of your once true love. I have a friend who had her “recent” heart break. She thought he’s the one since they had been four long years together. But then, her ex dumped her for another girl. My friend couldn’t move on even if a year has already passed. She shuts her heart.

    1. Thanks Lem and welcome! It’s not easy but possible. Everyone goes through a period of grieving and pain. A year has been a long time but different people heal at different times. The best way to break out of the past hurt and pain is when you have suffered the maximum pain and suffering in your life. She might not quite be there yet but she can get there. And Tolle shares with us some strategies to get there. Once your friend is prepared to heal, you will see her come more into the present moment. Although anyone can do this at any time, it is different for each person. They have to make the choice to end the pain and suffering in their lives.

      THank you for your comment!

  26. Superb thoughts here. I read Tolle’s book The Power of Now a few years ago and it gave me such a different way to view the world (or my thoughts, I guess). There’s something about living in the present that just gives you more peace of mind. Until you actually start to watch your thoughts, you don’t notice how little time you actually spend in the present.

    I don’t remember that section in Tolle’s book about Pain-body. Although it was several years ago and I must have forgot it. yet, It fascinates me – that concept. We all have pain from our past, but not all of it lingers with us. It makes me wonder just why some of that pain does linger inside us. More importantly, why does some of it become part of our identity. Why do we do that? A better question might be, how do we stop it from doing that? I guess being aware of it when it happens helps. Working through the issue and recognizing that pain the past should remain in the past would help too. You’ve given me some things to think about. Great post.

    1. Steve, glad you read it and it made an impact on you. Yes, that is a good question – why does some pain linger and what can we do about it. I think you’re right – he talks about awareness, acceptance and present moment living. Our egos love to live in the past and really claim our pain. Tolle would probably say we get our identity from our pain so our ego has a field day with it. This has been partly true for me. I then decided to stop feeding the identity/ego monster and it allowed me to free myself from parts of my painful past.

      Thanks for your feedback and comment, Steve.

  27. Hi Vishnu,
    it’s enlightening to read your take on pain and suffering.
    Eckhart Tolle is a darling author for scores of us who like to explore the depths of human feelings and emotions.He has shone a lot of brilliance on our lives through “The Power of Now”.
    Now here is what i think …
    Firstly we suffer fro two things the most in life:-
    -Other people
    -Our memories
    And both of these need our constat attention to resolve unconscious baggage.we often are able to cope with trying circumstances.But we are usually at our weakest with challanging relationships and people.

    Actually ,our ego comes in the way squarely.And we find ourselves unable to adjust to people ,as we would have done with difficult circumstances.We are unable to be humble.

    We fear our humility will be taken advantage of and we do not reconcile easily.We live on borrowed societal beliefs about strength and show of confidence.We confuse humility and reconciliation with weakness.
    We do not agree with the fact that true strength is aligning with our peace and calm regardless of outer circumstances.
    Thanks
    Mona

    1. Thanks for your feedback and comment here, Mona!

      You’ve made some astute reflections about suffering in our lives. And many of the human blunders we make including fear of humility, false beliefs, our thoughts about weakness and resistance to outer circumstances. Spiritual practices, conscious awakenings and living in the present moment are just some of the ways we can break our of these negative thought patterns and reduce our suffering.

  28. Thinking about the past is something I have definitely struggled with. I could spend hours thinking about events in my life that traumatized me, coming up with different scenarios or what I thought I should of done. Hours would go by as I would waste my present living my past.

    The ability to simply observe is very powerful and under appreciated, we as humans try to understand every single thing going on and happening to us. Learning to accept things and that they just are, is a great start to living in the present!

    Great post, I really enjoyed reading this!

  29. Great post, Vishnu, thanks. It hits on what I think is a big tendency for me and one that I struggle with. I tend to be very future oriented but it can often detract from my ability to be present. And yet on those (too rare) occasions when I manage to be totally present I find it to be a fantastic experience. Something that brings levity to how I go through the day or that moment. Yet it’s still something I can struggle to do. Being future oriented has often been a strength for me so I don’t want to bulldoze that tendency entirely. But it is important to find a good balance. Sometimes I succeed, sometimes I don’t. But I’m trying to get better.

    1. Trying to live more in the present is all you can do, Micah. The more present you are, the more of a present you give yourself (yup, pun fully intended!!) And if there was a choice, it’s probably better to live in the future than the past haha. If the future is a positive experience for you, keep relying on it less and less. The one problem with future living as I mention in the post, we tend to think happiness, success and joy lies in the future. And it really doesn’t.

      If we found (success, happiness, contentment etc) in the present moment and in the act of doing and being, the future looks less attractive. As I mentioned, and you too, it’s all about an improvement and getting to a place that we already know way too well – the present.

      Thank you for your comment and for sharing!

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