I began reading the Power of Now in early 2007. I could only read it in small chunks then would need to reflect on one point, and often, return to that point. I wasn't sure I was 'getting' it, but I loved reading what Tolle said so simply and directly, some of which I'd heard from my sufi teachers. It was nice to hear the lessons in a non-denominational way that I could discuss with others not of my same religion.
I had been a smoker for a very many years. In April 2007 I got very sick. Flu, virus, whatever, I was flat out for a couple days. I could barely take care of most basic needs. I didn't smoke for two days, but when I started to come around, still pretty sick, my first thoughts were all of smoking: "where's my cigs, where's a lighter, can I make it outside or should I open a window and smoke there." My next thought was "that's insane when you're so ill!" and in the past many times I've gone ahead and smoked in that very situation, even with that same recognition of how crazy it was, thinking I'm hooked. But this time a new thought came: "those are only thoughts, and I am not my thoughts!" And I was free of it.
From that day I've not smoked another cigarette. It wasn't hard, there was no struggle, and I did not have major withdrawals. If the thought of smoking popped up, I answered it the same way.
If I got nothing more from the book or the teaching that would be hugely enough. But I use it often, in many situations. I don't know that I "understand" anything else of it, but to know I'm not my thoughts has been a major tool of liberation.
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