I'm sitting here at Los Angeles International Airport, and my flight has been delayed for two hours. I'm on my way to Vancouver to see some dear, close friends, including speaker and author Eckhart Tolle. I first met Eckhart more than 10 years ago, when he was not famous, just a quiet man with a powerful message. Although what he teaches is similar to Advaita Vedanta, Zen and many other meditation traditions, he hasn't proposed a formal practice or system. Instead, he recommends bringing meditation principles into every moment of life. Furthermore, he proposes that how this unfolds in your life is up to you.
He used to stay in the guest room of my home whenever he came to Los Angeles to give a talk or host a workshop. My partner and I adored his visits because we always learned so much about happiness from him, even when he didn't speak a word. I brought him his coffee in the morning, and the newspaper. We spent time together in silence, and we also did a lot of laughing. I remember sitting on the front steps watching birds play in the jasmine, enjoying the flight of a cloud through the blue sky. This was my first time acknowledging the profound peace and joy in the simple experiences of life, and it opened my eyes to the simple joy of being.
Since then, Eckhart's many books, including "The Power of Now" and "A New Earth," have gone on to be international bestsellers for years at a time (remarkable), with a profound message that has sent a spark of peace, introspection and love into millions of hearts. At the core of Eckhart's teachings is the realization that experientially speaking, this moment is all there ever is. The depth of your awareness of this moment, or of your effort to avoid it, is directly related to the depth of your joy in life.
For example, here I am at this airport, delayed for two hours. And to be realistic about travel, it could be longer. Who knows how long I'll be parked in this waiting room? Something handy that I picked up from Eckhart is "waiting without waiting." Normal waiting for me would feel like agitation, grumbling thoughts, complaining, stress and compulsively checking the slow-moving clock. I could be stuck in the feelings of frustration and anger for quite a while. However, there is another choice. In the face of a problem that is out of hands, such as being stuck here in this airport, my two choices are to be miserable or to let it go (in Eckhart's language, "surrender to what is").
Now that I realize I have the choice of letting go when action is not possible, I usually do, avoiding the inner grumbling, and therefore avoiding the stress and suffering. But "waiting without waiting" doesn't end there. Now that I am no longer "in resistance to what is," I can enter the present moment. Why? Because it's wonderful in its own way, even if you are trapped by a delay at the airport. What? Yes, it's true.
So what's entering the present moment? Fasten your seatbelt. It depends on how deep you're willing to go. First, shift your focus to your physical body, accessing a feeling state. In other words, notice how your body feels right now. Are there any areas where you're holding tension? If you find tension, consciously take a breath and relax.
Next, enter your inner body. This is the energetic body that animates your flesh and blood. It's that energy that differentiates your body from that of a corpse: your aliveness, your vibration, your life force. Becoming aware of yourself on this level has the potential to pull you out of your life "situation" and put you back in touch with the essence of life itself.
And, if you're daring, you can go even deeper. Do not operate heavy machinery at this time; however, sitting in an airport terminal is a perfect environment, if that's where you happen to be. While still aware of your inner body, you can become aware of the energizing life force animating the world around you. Keep your focus off the world, and look for the energy of the world. It's kind of like looking at those 3-D posters: you have to look at it while looking past it to get the full effect.
Without criticism or labels, you can take in the hustle and bustle of the airport, the chair supporting your body, the floor beneath you, the ceiling above you and the air all around you. Suddenly, while in this moment, there are no problems.
Life is circulating within you, life is circulating all around you. You might become aware of your connection to the whole. You might even feel a spontaneous, deep and effortless love for the miracle of existence, including yourself.
Maybe flight delays aren't so bad after all. The next time you find yourself waiting, try "waiting without waiting." If you don't like it, you can always just read some magazines.
You are welcome to join me in a guided meditation by clicking here.