The Calm Center: Reflections and Meditations for Spiritual Awakening

The Calm Center: Reflections and Meditations for Spiritual Awakening

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781608683307
Publisher: New World Library
Publication date: 05/12/2015
Series: Eckhart Tolle Edition Series
Pages: 128
Sales rank: 600,921
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author


Steve Taylor’s books, published in eighteen languages, include Waking from Sleep, Out of the Darkness, and The Fall. Since 2011, he has appeared annually in Mind, Body, Spirit magazine’s list of “the world’s 100 most spiritually influential living people.” He teaches at Leeds Beckett University and lives in Manchester, England.

Read an Excerpt

The Calm Center

Reflections and Meditations for Spiritual Awakening


By Steve Taylor

New World Library

Copyright © 2015 Steve Taylor
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-60868-331-4



CHAPTER 1

    The Only Place


    When the future is full of dread
    and the past is full of regret
    where can you take refuge except in the present?

    When maelstroms of tormenting thoughts
    push back the barricades of your sanity
    the present is the calm center where you can rest.

    And slowly, as you rest there,
    the niggling thoughts and fears dissolve
    like shadows shrinking under the midday sun
    until you don't need refuge anymore.

    The present is the only place
    where there is no thought-created pain.

    The present is the only place.


    The Challenge


    How will you know how strong you are
    unless your strength is tested?

    How will you know how deep you are
    unless turmoil breaks your surface
    and forces you to dive?

    How will you know what sleeps inside
    until the whole of you is challenged to wake up?

    Then you'll turn inside to gather your resources
    your untapped reserves of strength and skill
    then rise like a sun, amazed by your own brightness,
    stronger than you ever suspected
    deeper than you ever dreamed.


    Divine Dissatisfaction (The Opening)


    When you sense there's something more
    when the life that used to satisfy you no longer seems enough
    and security seems suffocating and pleasures lose their taste
    when dreams of success don't motivate you anymore
    and diversions don't seem to divert you
    when familiarity seems oppressive, like a coat that's too old and tight,
    and every repetition of the old routine
    makes you feel more stale and weary

    When you find yourself aching
    with a sadness that doesn't seem to have a source
    with a hunger that seems too subtle to satisfy
    when strange energies are pulsing through you
    like the tremors of an earthquake deep down inside
    and you can feel the ground shifting
    and are afraid of losing balance
    and you ask yourself, "What's wrong with me?
    Why can't I be happy anymore?"

    Have no fear — there's nothing wrong with you.
    This isn't anxiety or depression,
    it's divine dissatisfaction.
    You're not breaking down but breaking through.

    This is your awakening
    the tearing of the veil
    the opening of your soul.
    Your real self is emerging, slowly, painfully,
    through the hard skin of your chrysalis.

    The old world is receding behind you
    and you're waiting at the threshold of the new, disoriented,
    wondering how to make sense of this strange place.
    But as long as you have the courage to move forward
    a guide will appear and your path will form before you
    and a glorious adventure will begin.

    And soon the lushness of this landscape won't startle you anymore
    soon the brilliance of this sun won't dazzle you
    soon the vastness of this space won't feel overwhelming
    and the magic and meaning of this new world will embrace you.


    Become the Sky


    This cage you've been trapped inside
    for longer than you can remember
    might seem so sturdy and secure
    that you don't even dream of escaping anymore
    like a bird that used to beat its wings
    but now just lets them hang limply by its sides.

    But the bars of your cage aren't solid.
    They're a mirage made up of fears and desires
    projected by your restless mind
    fueled by the attention you give them.

    Just for a moment let your mind be quiet
    and see how fears evaporate
    see how desires withdraw
    like the claws of an animal that's no longer threatened.

    Watch the bars melt away
    and let the world immerse you.

    Let your mind-space merge with the space out there
    until there is only space without distinction —
    stretch your wings and become the sky.


    The Voice inside Your Head


    One day you'll grow fed up with the voice inside your head
    with its constant murmurings of discontent
    its fearmongering thoughts of the future
    and its questioning of every choice you make.

    One day you'll turn to it and calmly say, "I refuse to listen"
    then stand back and look away
    turning your attention to your surroundings
    or to a quietness and spaciousness you can sense
    inside you, just behind the voice.

    The voice is so self-absorbed
    that at first it won't even notice it's being ignored
    and will carry on chattering away to itself.
    You'll still hear its complaints and criticisms
    but they won't convince you anymore —
    you'll doubt them, laugh at them, reject them.

    And gradually, without the fuel of your attention,
    the voice will become more hesitant
    will stumble and slow down, leaving space;
    until eventually that self-assertive drawl that demanded to be heard
    and seemed to submerge the rest of reality
    will be no louder than a whisper, like a gentle breeze
    that seems to be part of silence.
    


    The Core


    It can take a whole lifetime to become yourself —
    years of feeling adrift and alone
    acting in a role you were never meant to play
    stammering in a language you weren't meant to speak
    wearing clothes that don't fit
    trying to pass yourself off as normal
    but always feeling clumsy and unnatural
    like a stranger pretending to be at home
    knowing that everyone can sense your strangeness
    and resents you because they know you don't belong.

    But slowly, through years of exploration,
    you see landmarks that you recognize
    hear vague whispers that seem to make sense
    strangely familiar words, as if you had spoken them yourself,
    and ideas that resonate deep down, as if you already knew them.
    And slowly your confidence grows
    and you walk faster, sensing the right direction,
    feeling the magnetic pull of home.

    And now you begin to excavate
    to peel away the layers of conditioning
    to shed the skins of your flimsy false self
    to discard those habits and desires that you absorbed
    until you reach the solid rock beneath
    the shining molten core of you.

    And now there's no more uncertainty —
    your path is clear, your course is fixed.
    This bedrock of your being is so firm and stable
    that there's no need for acceptance
    no fear of exclusion or ridicule.
    Everything you do is right and true
    deep and whole with authenticity.

    But don't stop. This is only the halfway point —
    maybe even just the beginning.

    Once you've reached the core
    keep exploring but more subtly
    keep excavating but more delicately
    and you'll keep unearthing new layers, finding new depths,
    until you reach the point that is no point
    where the core dissolves
    and the solid rock melts like ice
    and the self loses its boundary
    and expands to encompass the whole.

    A self even stronger and truer
    because it's no self at all.

    A self you had to find
    so that you could lose it.


    The Secrets


    You can't grasp at the secrets
    prize them from the earth
    or pluck them from the air.
    The harder you try to hold them
    the more they lose their form
    until they leak away.

    You can grind matter down to the tiniest grains
    until it collapses into nothing
    but its essence will always elude you.
    You can pin nature down and torture her
    but she'll never tell you what she knows.

    You can't use force or even effort —
    you can only create the right conditions
    reverse the beam of your attention
    and make a sacred space inside.

    Let your mind become as empty as a cloudless sky
    and as calm as the surface of a lake
    until your depths are rich with stillness
    and the channel is wide and clear enough
    for the secrets to flow through
    and reveal themselves to you.


    The Story


    Your story is always there
    if you need to remind yourself of who you are
    like a stream flowing beside you
    that you can always step into and swim with for a while
    whenever you lose direction or feel vulnerable
    and need to refresh your sense of self.

    And when you're flowing with that stream of memories
    you might feel proud of how far you've come
    to this moment of bright achievement
    look back upstream and smile with vindication
    at the fools who slighted and doubted you.

    Or you might ache inside with failure
    looking back at the meandering muddy tracks
    that haven't led anywhere
    except to this place of pain.

    You can be a hero or a villain, depending on your story.

    Or you can let the stream flow by
    and accept this moment in its wholeness
    without reference to any other, before or after.

    You can sit and observe, outside the story,
    not as a character but as the author
    grounded in another identity
    that was never created
    and doesn't need a plot or conclusion
    because it's already complete.


    The Alchemy of Attention


    When a mist of multiplying thoughts fills your mind
    associations spinning endlessly
    images jostling and memories whirling
    free-falling through your inner space
    you can always bring yourself back to now.

    This morning, making breakfast for the kids,
    I catch myself daydreaming and with a gentle mental nudge
    remind myself of where I am.
    And straight away the kitchen clutter turns into spacious presence —
    a mosaic of sunlit squares across the floor
    fading and brightening with the passing clouds
    the metal rims of stools firing sparks
    steam-curls floating over cups
    reflecting silver spoons
    the perfect stillness of spilt coffee grains
    the gaudy yellow and blue of detergent bottles
    and the window smudges exposed by sun —
    everything perfectly still and real
    everything perfectly itself.

    Attention is an alchemy
    that turns dullness to beauty
    and anxiety to ease.


    The Spiritual Teacher


    "You can't find happiness in the world," the teacher said.
    "It's a place of imperfection. That's why it's full of suffering.
    You have to go beyond it, into the realm of spirit.
    That is where fulfillment lies."

    There was an otherworldly glow in his eyes
    as if he was from another dimension
    too ethereal for the earth
    just visiting, with no desire to stay.

    "The body is a husk, nothing more," he continued.
    "A temporary vehicle for the soul.
    And the more you indulge its desires
    the weaker the spirit grows."

    I left the meeting and wandered the streets, looking at the sky.
    I walked through the park, along the promenade,
    underneath the swaying branches of the trees.

    And I felt spirit speaking
    through the quiet sentience of the trees
    through the gentle murmurs of the wind
    through the hissing and swelling of the sea
    through the smooth soft flowing of the clouds.

    Every blade of grass, every wave of the sea,
    every cloud, every stone, every particle of air
    glowed with its own consciousness
    subtly sentient, quietly alive,
    always there but at a secret frequency
    beyond the normal spectrum of awareness.

    I felt the awesome power of spirit
    pouring through and pervading the world.
    I opened myself up, I let the power embrace me
    and became part of the communion too
    my whole body tingling and sparkling with spirit.

    And I never saw the teacher again.


    The Shock


    There are so many ways to feel dissatisfied
    so many different needs to meet
    so many goals to keep striving toward
    so many problems to try to fix
    so much of the past you wish you could change
    so many fears about the future.

    No wonder you feel overwhelmed
    like a traveler carrying too many bags
    with too many paths to choose from
    who has to keep stopping to rest
    until he can't go on, and collapses.

    How could you ever be happy?
    Life's too demanding and complicated.

    But then — the shock of an illness or an accident.
    Death creeps behind you and swipes you hard across your back
    awakening you from your torpor.
    Suddenly the fog dissolves
    and you can see the narrow ledge you're walking
    — the one you've always been walking — between life and death.

    And now it's all so simple and makes perfect sense —
    life is temporary and fragile, precious beyond measure,
    and life contains nothing except this present moment
    this beautiful bright river of experience.

    And suddenly those needs stop niggling at you
    the guilt and fear stop gnawing
    the phantoms of the past can't scare you anymore
    there's nothing to worry about or to be afraid of.

    Everything obliterated
    but the glory of this moment
    and the grandeur of the world itself.
    And you know that this is all there is
    that this is where fulfillment lies
    and everything else is only a shadow play of the mind.
  


    The Light (from Different Lamps)


    I saw the light burst across the sky
    like a flower opening behind the clouds
    and the whole world was flushed with harmony
    shimmering like the sea at dawn.

    I saw the light glow inside my mind
    seeping through the darkness of inner space
    at a certain point of stillness
    like a pool of pure white water.

    I saw the light shine through my baby's eyes —
    two crystals gleaming with unconditional love
    straight from the universe's golden core.
    All-emanating, all-embracing — the light of light itself.


    The Mask


    Don't make yourself a mask to meet the world
    a mask that plays your life so well
    that's so affable and entertaining
    that you're always the center of attention —
    a mask you can't let slip, even for a second,
    in case your real self shows through
    and the audience realizes that they've been tricked
    and their affection turns to ridicule.

    The mask makes life easier —
    there's a storm of impressions, thoughts, and feelings
    that could confuse and overwhelm you
    but you can stand firm, with the mask protecting you,
    reflecting back the world like a cold metallic shield
    deflecting any pain that comes your way.

    And it's easier still when you don't stand back and watch anymore
    when you become the role you're playing
    and forget you were ever anyone else.

    But the mask is like a child that never grows up
    that will never be self-sufficient;
    you have to keep feeding it with attention
    and make sure it never meets silence or solitude —
    the two predators that threaten it.

    And eventually the mask will crumble
    when you can't keep up the effort anymore
    and collapse like an exhausted parent at the end of the day.

    Then your real self will stumble free
    stunned after such a long imprisonment
    dazzled by the brightness of the sun
    reeling from life's complexity
    naked and open to terror and delight.

    And the world will trust you
    the human race will welcome you
    and slowly others will unmask themselves around you
    as you feel yourself connecting to a deep nourishing flow
    beyond the fragile separateness of masks —
    the richness of your being, opening
    to the richness of others' beings, and of life itself
    the wholeness of your being opening
    to the wholeness of life itself.


    When Problems Seem to Lie Ahead


    When problems seem to lie ahead
    don't rush forward to meet them
    as if they're long-lost friends —
    let them lie there, let them wait.

    Let them sleep until it's time to meet
    then give them due attention
    resolve them as best you can
    then go on your way, leaving them there
    without ever looking back.

    Or even, when the appointment comes,
    you might find yourself waiting, waiting, waiting
    until you realize that you've been tricked
    that there was never a problem and there's nothing here
    except a long thin shadow, cast by your thoughts.
  


(Continues...)

Excerpted from The Calm Center by Steve Taylor. Copyright © 2015 Steve Taylor. Excerpted by permission of New World Library.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


Contents

Introduction by Eckhart Tolle

The Only Place
The Challenge
Divine Dissatisfaction (The Opening)
Become the Sky
The Voice inside Your Head
The Core
The Secrets
The Story
The Alchemy of Attention
The Spiritual Teacher
The Shock
The Light (from Different Lamps)
The Mask
When Problems Seem to Lie Ahead
The Struggle
The Pressure to Do
The Fall
The Sea
Space
The Smile
There Is No Need
A Moment without Thought
You Don’t Have to Think
Time to Stop Striving
When You Lose Yourself
The Night Is Alive
The Wilderness
The Mellow Glow
The Fortress
The Primal Soul
The Same Substance
Death, the Mysterious Stranger
The Great Dictator
The Gentle Sway of Death
The Off-loading
The Trees
I Am Eternally Grateful
I Am One of the Free
The Play
Can You Be Happy with Nothing?
Step Outside Yourself
The World Is Reborn
The Beginning of the Universe
The Trees (2)
The Unease
The Meaning
The Strangeness
The Force
The Perfect Paradox
The End of Success
The End of Desire
Savor This World, Savor This Life
The Project
Back Home
The Essence

Acknowledgments
Index of First Lines
About the Author

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