When it comes to achieving true freedom, there is one particular area each of us must examine – our relationship to the present moment.
As explained by Eckhart Tolle, the problem is the ego. Tolle refers to ego as a state of complete identification with the voice in the head. He further points out that the problem with this, is that the ego is always dissatisfied with the present moment; seeing it as either an obstacle, an enemy, or a means to an end.
Within this relationship to the present moment, there are three main facets to be considered – Acceptance, Awareness and Alignment; we can think of these as three parts of a whole.
Acceptance, or non-resistance is death to the ego. The key to understanding here is that when we resist the present moment, we create a sort of log jam in which nothing can move and there is no flow. What we resist, persists. The sooner we can allow things to be as they are without pushing back against them, the sooner the circumstance can shift and ultimately change. An example of resisting what is might be someone who is unwilling to face a prominent problem or conflict in their life -denial, distraction and so on. The ego loves to play the victim and to complain. If you feel stuck or if you know you are resisting something specific, try to come up with an honest picture of the situation while repeating this mantra:
I am willing to accept myself and my circumstance in this moment.
Awareness, or non-judgement is the antithesis of the ego. It is possible to witness something without forming an opinion. The ego loves to compare and contrast and puts everything through a filter of: good/bad, right/wrong, yes/no. The more we can refrain from judging, the more our relationship to the present moment improves and the more peace we feel. An example of judging that might not be so obvious, is the tendency of looking for the differences between oneself and others rather than looking for similarities. The ego prides itself on being separate, different, and apart from what it sees, even when it feels less than. If you feel you are stuck in judgement (being judged or judging others/yourself) or feel very separate and alone, consider your circumstance and repeat the following mantra:
I am willing to see this differently.
Alignment, or non-attachment is freedom from the ego. The underlying idea here is that we can choose to recognize the impermanence of all things, no matter what the circumstance. To choose this is to release the perceived obstacles and barriers to a better way. The more we can remember that nothing is fixed, the more we can align with the natural flow of life - like padding with the current rather than upstream. The ego likes to latch on to circumstance that limits progress and positive change and will often attach itself to the aspects of the present moment that are least helpful. An example of this tendency is to focus on the petty, the problems of the past, and even potential problems in the future; anything but the positives. If this sounds like you, consider your current attachments and repeat the following mantra:
I am willing to choose again.
Another way we can understand this is - until we are willing to make friends with the present moment, we cannot expect to find True Freedom.