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Ego management: Eckhart Tolle on controlling psychological time January 9, 2013

Posted by Dennis Mellersh in Ego Management.
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Eckhart Tolle tells us that one of the main causes of emotional and mental distress is the tendency of the ego or mind to dwell in the past and the future, rather than focusing on the present.

Tolle considers this past/present thought process of the ego or mind to be psychological time, as opposed to “clock” time. Clock time might involve activities such as preparing a report for a meeting on Friday, or getting our kids ready to take them to a doctor’s appointment in the afternoon. Psychological time or mind-time, ego-time, by contrast would be worrying about possible outcomes of presenting your report on Friday, or fretting about what the doctor’s report will be this afternoon.

Tolle believes that there are serious emotional and mental consequences from our tendency to dwell frequently in psychological time. In The Power of Now, he writes, “All negativity is caused by an accumulation of psychological time and denial of the present. Unease, anxiety, tension, stress, worry—all forms of fear – are caused by too much future and not enough presence. Guilt, regret, resentment, grievances, sadness, and all forms of non-forgiveness are caused by too much past and not enough presence.”

For Tolle, one of the first steps we can take to get out of this endless mind/ego loop is to simply recognize this tendency, to be watchful, and observe when we are doing it. He does say, however, that this approach will take a lot of practice because the mind and ego are so fixed in this tendency that we are constantly dwelling in the past and future, and thereby coloring our thought process, that we do not usually recognize that it is happening.

Tolle recognizes that it is difficult to grasp that “time”, and more specifically psychological time, is the cause of our problems, and says that although everyone has problems in their “life situation” that need to be either dealt with or accepted, he says the biggest problem we have is ultimately the “time-bound mind itself.”

Tolle devotes close one-third of his 230-page book explaining this problem and working to convince us of the emotional and intellectual difficulties it causes. Then, for the most, part the remainder of The Power of Now is dedicated to presenting strategies and tactics to help remove ourselves from this conundrum.