Mental Illness and the Power of Now

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I’ve been reading the book, The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle, for about ten months. I can only read a few pages at a time before it becomes too intense in its truths and suggestions for my brain to handle. It’s a fascinating book that gives me a lot to think about and meditate on.

Today, I wanted to share a quote from the book that particularly related to my mental illness symptoms, and maybe to yours as well. It has to do with surrender, which Tolle explains is an inside job, meaning that while you can take action to try to change the overall situation if you want to, you still need to accept the tiny segment of Now that is occurring.

If I equate this with my mental health symptoms, I may need to accept, for example, that I am feeling sad and agitated at the present moment. Overall, I have been feeling this way for the past week, which I can work towards changing by reporting these symptoms to my doctor, praying, writing, and focusing on what tasks I have in front of me – in the Now.

It is when I do not accept or surrender to my current feelings that I become even more depressed and agitated to the point of wanted to harm myself in some way. (Some people may cut, abuse drugs or alcohol, overeat, engage in risky behavior, or attempt suicide.)

So, here is the quote:

“Non-surrender hardens your psychological form, the shell of the ego, and so creates a strong sense of separateness. The world around you and people in particular come to be perceived as threatening. The unconscious compulsion to destroy others through judgment arises, as does the need to compete and dominate. Even nature becomes your enemy and your perceptions and interpretations are governed by fear. The mental disease that we call paranoia is only a slightly more acute form of this normal but dysfunctional state of consciousness.

Not only your psychological form but also your physical form – your body – becomes hard and rigid through resistance. Tension arises in different parts of the body, and the body as a whole contracts. The free flow of life energy through the body, which is essential for its healthy functioning, is greatly restricted. Bodywork and certain forms of physical therapy can be helpful in restoring this flow, but unless you practice surrender in your every day life, those things can only give temporary symptom relief since the cause – the resistance pattern – has not been dissolved.”

Aren’t these ideas amazing to ponder? I can relate to all of them. I have a fear of people hurting me; feel like I am in competition with everyone; filled with fear of natural disasters, or some harm coming to one of my children. Fear rules my life, and I don’t want it to.

Physically I am usually in pain – tension headaches, muscle cramps, migraines, neck stiffness, clenched jaw, exhaustion, etc. I exercise, go to the chiropractor, and get massages to try to relieve my physical pain. The results are always temporary, lasting a day or two at the most.

I must work on surrendering to what is in the Now. I must work on dissolving the “resistance pattern.” But, how? I will keep reading and let you know what I find.

What are your thoughts on this? How do you work on surrendering in your daily life?

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8 thoughts on “Mental Illness and the Power of Now

  1. I think, from experiencing trauma in my childhood, and being diagnosed with Bipolar 1 many years later, fear is embedded in my psyche. I fear more intensely than many, especially those who don’t have mental health issues.

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  2. I’ve been reading Eckhart T. For a while but I find it difficult to surrender the faith of my son, he is bipolar and smokes marijuana and I’ve been trying to get him to detox and to seek help but to no avail, I am scared that if I let him be, he’d just spiral down out of control to a point of no return, he still lives at home, he can’t find a job, I hear all these advices about tough love etc. But honestly I’m so very confused as to what would be best. Sometimes I just feel like running away and never come back.

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    • As a parent of a teenager with depression, possible bipolar type II, I can understand your anguish. It’s so hard to watch our children go through something we have no control over. Of course I can control things like taking her to doctors and counselors and making sure she takes her meds properly and supporting her emotionally as best I can without making myself sick in the process. But she is still a minor, a child, only 14. If she was an adult it would be a different story. She would have to be responsible for her own recovery. That’s just the way it works. God bless you.

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