An evening with spiritual guru Eckhart Tolle saw Madeleine Dwyer trade in self-improvement fatigue and embrace his brand of simplified mindfulness
I was lucky enough to attend An Evening with Eckhart Tolle, spiritual teacher and bestselling author, with the lovely KK this past week. The spacious room was filled to the brim with bodies – people like me who were eager to hear the man that has played a large role in defining modern spirituality & living a life of happiness and purpose. My own experience with Tolle’s teachings began shortly after I discovered yoga back when Flow Athletic opened in 2013. I devoured his New York Time bestseller ‘The Power of Now’ – a book dedicated to finding peace and promise in the present moment – and his teachings along with my asana practice led me to discover other new-age spirituality gurus such as Danielle LaPorte, Brene Brown and Wayne Dyer. As of late, however, I’ve felt like I’ve been suffering from self-improvement fatigue. There are only so many Instagrams, Facebook posts and hashtags eagerly advocating for sunrise walks, savasanas and smoothies that I can digest before it becomes an overwhelming overload. It’s easier to forget it all and fill my brain with comedy shows on Netflix instead.
This event was the cut-through I was craving. Tolle himself is an unassuming, gentle character and as he took his seat I could see that twinkle in his eye and smile on his lips that suggested he has found this world to be equal parts fascinating and bemusing. Before I researched more about this man I had assumed Tolle to be a statuesque, glorious spiritual god that commanded attention and respect due to his vast spiritual knowledge. But – there he was, the same age as my father and cracking silly jokes much like the ones that my dad makes, which cause me to roll my eyes but laugh in spite of myself. Softly spoken yet sincere, Tolle tackled big theological & philosophical topics in an accessible, thoughtful and digestable manner that had the whole room (including me) spellbound. His central theme was the concept of the “deep ‘i'” that he described as the core of ourselves that is truly authentic, that has existed within us since birth but over time has been blurred or shadowed by events and experiences that alter our perception of the world and who we really are ourselves. This “deep ‘i'” is what we all crave to uncover, and we try desperately to peel back the layers we have wrapped it in so we can achieve the inner peace we feel like we’re meant to feel.
Leonard Cohen once sang “there is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in” and how Tolle used this quote to explain mindfulness & being in the present was my biggest takeaway of the evening. Allowing for those tiny cracks that inperceptably penetrate our daily lives – those little moments where you are completely present and in ‘flow’ (whether that be in a yoga class, at work or simply going for a walk and noticing a handsome tree) – allows for the light (or, that “dimension of spaciousness”, as he called it, where the voice in your head is silent and you are completely present) to seep through. That, Tolle quipped, is the moment where your “inner ‘i'” is exposed and one is at peace. By stripping away the noise and going back to basics by exploring what makes us feel happy and in the moment, we are inviting those tiny little cracks to come pepper our day-to-day. Sounds pretty sweet, right? I reckon Instagram scrolling can wait.