Oprah and Eckhart’s 2nd webcast: How to Become Present

Susan Smit and ABC’s Femke at the New Earth Discussion NightOn Friday March 7th, the American Book Center and Penguin Benelux organized the first of in total three discussion-evenings on Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth in the ABC Treehouse in Amsterdam. And what a meeting it was!

More than 60 people showed up; special guest Susan Smit (Dutch author, book reviewer and writer for the magazines Happinez and Marie Claire, among others) shared her insights on the awakening process with us and we watched parts of the first New Earth-webcast, organized by Oprah Winfrey and Eckhart Tolle, together.

By now the second and third webcast by Oprah and Eckhart have been broadcast (they can be viewed on www.oprah.com). Millions of people worldwide are participating in this “Online Class on Awakening��? and the number is still growing.

ParticipantsDuring the second webcast (March 10th) Eckhart and Oprah introduced us to the concept of the Ego. According to Eckhart, the Ego is our false sense of self, based on mental concepts. These concepts consist of social conditioning, ideas we learned from our parents or other authority figures during our youth, and conclusions we have reached ourselves as a consequence of dealing with painful life experiences in our past. What all these concepts have in common is that they are based on fear. The Ego clings to them because they provide the Ego with an identity: ‘Me and My Unhappy Story’. The Ego is a mental construct, and it needs this story to survive. But the past is not the Ego’s sole obsession; it is also obsessed with the future. The Ego either worries about the future or expects it to deliver some sort of completion: to save it from its current unhappy state.

oprahtollebanner.jpgBecause the Ego is made up from thoughts about the past and future, the biggest enemy of the Ego is the Now. If we become alert and really experience the Now, we stop the maelstrom of thoughts and leave the confines of the Ego. By practicing being present in the Now, we loosen the grip the Ego has on us and we begin to experience who we really are: pure Consciousness, temporarily focused in a physical body.

So HOW do we become more present? How do we step out of our all familiar thinking mode? Not only are we trained by society and our upbringing to use our mind constantly, many of us are actually addicted to thinking. The impulse to think and label is so strong because many of us are almost completely taken over by our Ego. Interrupting our thought processes provokes heavy resistance from the Ego, which feels threatened in its existence.

Luckily, there are some relatively easy ways to become more Present. Eckhart gave us the following tools, all of which have in common that they stop our continuous stream of thoughts and help us to more fully experience ourselves and our surroundings:

1. Do breathing exercises, for example during meditation practice.

2. Be in nature; pay attention to all the flowers, plants and trees we see and truly experience their essence (instead of labeling them mentally).

3. Feel the inner body, meaning the energy field inside of our body. Sports like yoga, tai chi, chi qung and aikido all help us to become aware of this energy field.

A fourth way of becoming present is to become aware of your emotions. You could call this tuning in to your emotional body. The action of becoming conscious of how we feel takes our attention away from our thoughts and helps us become present, just like the tools offered by Eckhart.

But there is another reason that paying attention to the way we feel increases our awareness. All our feelings correspond with thoughts. Negative, fear-based thoughts produce corresponding negative feelings – these thoughts make you feel heavy, contracted, tense and down. Positive feelings, on the other hand, make you feel light, free and energized.

Thus, by checking how you feel, you can catch yourself when you have slipped into a worrying mood. Your negative emotions will function as alarm bells, letting you know that you are thinking negative thoughts. Even if you do not succeed in changing your negative mood by turning the downward spiral around and reaching for thoughts that are more positive,* at least your awareness of your negative thoughts has created some ’space’ around them. You are not completely identified with these thoughts anymore and don’t take them to be the Ultimate Truth. This creates a feeling of relief: you become aware of your freedom to redirect your thoughts, instead of running on autopilot and letting your thoughts control you.

newearthevent02.jpgAt this point I would like to ask you, dear reader of the ABC Blog, what your own methods of stepping out of your mental maelstrom are. What kind of tools do you use to become present? Does physical exercise help you to calm down your mind, or activities as listening to beautiful music? Please share your habits and insights with us, so that others can learn from them as well!

I hope to see you all on our 2nd discussion night – on Friday April the 4th in the ABC Treehouse in Amsterdam! In the meantime, keep on eye on this Blog: another article on the Oprah/Eckhart webcasts will follow! For those of you in or near Den Haag, there will be a discussion night on April 10th at the ABC Treehut.

* Esther Hicks (The Teachings of Abraham) has written an amazing book on this subject: The Astonishing Power of Emotions: Let Your Feelings be Your Guide, available at the ABC.

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7 Responses to “Oprah and Eckhart’s 2nd webcast: How to Become Present”

  1. Howard says:

    OPRAH … from spending several years in Jeremiah Wright’s anti-American racist church, listening to sermons like “God Damn America”, and giving life time achievement awards to the likes of Louis Farrakhan … to her newest opportunistic religious beliefs … who could possibly take Oprah seriously? This woman’s ego is soooo big, being a billionaire celebrity isn’t enough, she has to start her own religion … not to mention all the additional money she is going to make selling all those book, tapes, CD’s, etc. to her poor followers. Oprah’s new power hungry ambitions include efforts to replace traditional America with Obama … and access to a President she puts into office … to her efforts at replacing Christianity with a new religion she controls. I think it’s time for America to deny Oprah access to our television sets.

  2. Femke says:

    Well you’re very welcome, Louis.

    It was nice to see you yesterday at the second New Earth meeting. Hopefully, next time we meet we will have a chance to talk a bit about all this: about how to reconcile consciously creating your life experience (by using your willpower) with surrendering to your Source/Higher Self. Because how do we find out if the things we want to create are desires from our ego instead of desires from our Source?? Can we feel the difference or can the ego still ‘trick’ us into manifesting something that doesn’t serve our highest good?

    I think the ‘Let go and Let God” fits into the 3rd phase of the creation process; to relax and by doing so, allow in all the good things you have asked for in phase 1 (the ‘asking’ phase). If you surrender, you release all resistance and raise yourself to the vibration of that which you have asked for. Probably that’s what you were aiming at as well ?

    I have heard this quote by Neale. D. Walsch before, but I haven’t read his Conversation with God-series yet. This quote and the comment made yesterday by another participant about Neale D. Walsch’s work trigger me into wanting to read his books. I think I will start this week :)

    If you like the Abraham/Hicks teachings so much, i can really recommend watching their Law of Attraction DVD’s. A few new ones have just arrived at the ABC last week. They give us a taste of how incredible the energy during a live Abraham-workshop must be… ! You can also watch their (short) videos on You Tube: http://youtube.com/user/AbrahamHicks.

  3. Louis Lugita says:

    Femke,

    What a beautiful answer you have given me. In a way your comment has cleared the contradiction that I felt between Esther’s teachings (be aware of your thoughts because they manifest) and Eckhart’s encouragement to let go of our thoughts. Can I say that by being aware of what we are thinking – and at the same time examine which emotions we are feeling – we create what we want and also the space ET is talking about. Then by letting go (and let God, as Neale D. Walsch says) we live the life we desire.
    Thanks again,
    Louis.

  4. Femke says:

    Hi Louis,

    I understand what you say about the Teachings of Abraham. For me they are easier to practise, because it feels so very good and exciting to practise them. It hardly takes discipline because it is just plain fun to do it (and besides; they offer processes for every possible emotional condition so you can always start somewhere – in that way, they are easy accesible.)

    While Tolle’s teachings bring me insights and serenity, the Teachings of Abraham trigger me on a emotional level, bringing me enthusiasm and zest for life :)

    What is interesting though is that Tolle is encouraging us to let go of our thoughts and mental labelling, why Abraham actually encourages us to us our POSITIVE thoughts and labels/affirmations (e.g. this flower is beautiful/i have a lovely day/ my body is healthy) to consciously create our own reality.
    Abraham encourages us to think a lot, while Tolle says thinking almost always takes us out of the NOW and into our ego.
    So Tolle points us towards awakening from the dream, while Abraham wants to assist us in making our dream more beautiful by using the magnetic power of our thoughts consciously.

    However, perhaps the difference between the two teachers is not so big as it seems because by “playing’ with our thoughts and investigating their effect in our daily lifes, we actually come to realize that we are the indwelling Awareness/Source that can use these thoughts as tools, instead of identifying with these thoughts and seeing them as Truth (which is what the Ego does). By playing with our thoughts we create a space between us and the thoughts. In short, by using Abraham’s teachings we can just as well awaken to
    our true Essence as by using Tolle’s teachings.

  5. Louis Lugita says:

    What I find most helpful in becoming present is indeed being aware of my emotions, always. This wasn’t easy in the beginning but a lot of practice will turn it into a second nature. Becoming conscious of our own emotions is a surefire way to get out of a negative mood and return to being thankful again for all the blessings we have, which then will make us feel joyous and happy again. Esther Hicks and her books are my guidance in this. Personally for me, the teachings of Abraham are easier to grasp and to practice than Eckhart Tolle’s. This is only personal though.

  6. Femke says:

    Hi Donna,

    Thank you for your compliments!

    Dancing and using your senses intensively sure are good ways to get out of your head and into the moment.
    That’s why listening to beautiful music is something I like to do – besides the fact that it puts me in a good mood :)

    Yesterday I received the following quote which perfectly reflects the teachings of Eckhart Tolle:

    “People or circumstances cannot disturb your clarity and peace.
    You ultimately come to see that the only thing that ever disturbs us
    is our own thoughts and imagination.”

    Best regards, Femke

  7. Donna DuCarme says:

    Dear Femke,
    What a great posting – you make me look forward to hearing more. To share what I do to calm the maelstrom: I have 3 methods, used depending on the situation.
    1. Physical excercise – I work out most mornings, and always include some dancing, it reconnects my emotions with my body, and my brain gets out of the way.
    2. Nature – in the middle of a busy street, I’ll pause to listen for bird song amongst the sound of traffic; or I’ll go to a park and see how many colors of green I can count (you’d be surprised how many there are!). It’s a kind of meditation, and pulls my eyes and ears out of the noise from my head. It also reminds me that the world is bigger than the space between my ears!