Several years ago when I first read Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now, I was engaged in an intense self-reflective stage of my life. I had just turned 60 and retired from an executive position after a successful and rewarding 36-year career with a prominent international aerospace engineering and manufacturing company. I had decided that retirement afforded me an opportunity to make a radical change in how I lived my life.
In my life as an engineer and executive, I had focused my energies intensely on a very structured life centered around work, family and travel. I had traveled the world extensively both professionally and recreationally, having spent much time in Europe, China and Japan. Life had been very good to me and my family. My children were now grown; the company I had spent my entire career with had just been acquired by a large conglomerate; it seemed it was time to move on. I had no preconceived notions about what this next phase of my life would be. I just had an intuition that I did not want to simply shift my energies into another highly structured, intensely engaged lifestyle – and I didn’t want to retire to the golf course.
I felt alive and vital; I had a lot of life to live. The question was, "How shall I live it?"
There were invitations to consult, to return to the company, to volunteer my executive experience and enter new business ventures. Instead, I made a commitment to myself that for six months I would "do nothing." I didn’t know what this meant, but I wanted to get up in the morning with no plan, no knowing what I would do that day, with absolutely no structure to my life.
Self-reflection and Richard Moss
|Richard Moss is returning to the Twin Cities.|
In retrospect, this was almost certain to bring me to some degree of self-reflection, although I hadn’t set this as an agenda. Self-reflection had been a part of my life ever since I had entered therapy and AA more than 25 years earlier, but it had taken somewhat of back seat to career, travel and family. Quite soon, my reflections led me to attend a seminar by Richard Moss, M.D., entitled "Radical Aliveness," a 10-day intensive retreat in the wilderness near Sedona, Ariz. Richard had been teaching about living more consciously for more than 20 years and had written several books on the subject. I had had two prior encounters with him and had been strongly attracted to his energy, his presence and his teaching.
At the Radical Aliveness seminar, I instinctively knew it was the time in my life to enter into a deeper introspective journey; and something inside me resonated deeply with Richard. I requested admittance into and, ultimately, committed to a three-year "Mentor" program with him and 20 other "students" of diverse age and background from around the world. For three years, we would gather with Richard twice a year for a week. He invited us to enter into a journey of intimate relationship with him and each other. He facilitated this journey of deepening self-reflection, self-discovery and self-disclosure, assisted by his and the group’s mirroring of aspects of our shadow self, hidden from our conscious awareness. The process was aided with consciousness-raising assignments to be completed between our biannual gatherings, and a challenging reading list to help us explore our understanding of our self in relation to ourselves and the universe.
Early during this three-year process, I read The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment. It helped to increase my awareness of how my mind races with endless thought, most of it meaningless, and much of it inducing suffering in me. I was fascinated as I learned to watch my mind and to enter into the "stillness" of the Now. This was an integral aspect of what I was learning in the Mentor program. In the Mentor program, Richard introduced us to something he called the Mandala of Being. It was something he was creating to help us understand where our minds go when we leave the present moment, the various emotions attached to where we go and, from these often destructive places, back to the still calmness of the Now. We learned how we limit our innate potential and our sheer enjoyment of life through repeated patterns of emotional suffering. The Mandala gave us a practical approach to interrupt and free us from these destructive patterns.
So, if we are not fully experiencing the present moment (the Now), where are we? We are either in the past experiencing regret or nostalgia, in the future experiencing fear or hope, or we are experiencing judgment of ourselves or others. Understanding this and the emotional states attached to where we go gives us a compass back to the richness and aliveness of the present moment. We learned to deconstruct and understand the mechanisms of our repetitive emotional patterns and how to free ourselves and live more completely in the present moment.
Being in the Now
Incorporating the Mandala into my daily life has radically changed how I live my life. I find much more space for being in the Now, I much more quickly recognize when I have collapsed into a story of past, future, you or me, and find it easier to come back. The emotional traps are much less limiting. From a pretty unconscious engineering executive, my life has been transformed into one filled with much greater awareness.
Much has happened since completing the Mentor program five years ago. I left a 39-year marriage. I moved back to the state I had loved and felt connected to. My relationships with my now-adult children have blossomed open with deep trust. A beloved 4-year-old granddaughter is teaching me about being fully alive in the present moment. I now share my life with a partner who values the intimacy and nurturing aliveness of living more completely in the consciousness of the Now. I have friends with whom I share deep intimacy and openness. I meander through most days allowing life to take me wherever it leads.
My six-month "do nothing" commitment has evolved into eight years. I do teach others what Richard has taught me; I mentor others in his ways. The hardest to teach are the engineers and bankers. I’ve come to accept myself as I am. I am much more honest with myself and others. I no longer have my self-worth attached to what I do or what others think of me. I’ve shared my darkest secrets with my children, family and close friends. I meditate often and read a lot of spiritual books. I fast in silence one day a week. I facilitate a weekly meditation group led by a Buddhist monk from Sri Lanka.
I don’t think my co-workers would recognize me anymore. Friends struggle in disbelief that I was once an engineering executive. My life is radically different than it was eight years ago. Most of the time I love life just as it is; I feel grateful, especially to Richard Moss. I’m 68 now and I feel filled with vitality and energized by life.
For 30 years, Richard Moss has been teaching about the power of awareness to heal and transform ourselves, our relationships and our world. He has written six books on the subject. In his newest book, The Mandala of Being: Discovering to the Power of Awareness, Richard presents the culmination of those 30 years of teaching. The book presents the Mandala that I learned in the Mentor program. I believe as Publisher’s Weekly stated in their review of The Mandala of Being: "Readers who enjoyed Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now and are ready to take the next step should gravitate easily to Moss’s probing marriage of psychology, the transcendent nature of self, fear, faith and love."
Richard Moss will return to Minnesota to present two workshops at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum: on April 4 for mental health professionals (6.5 CEU credit hours), $169 by March 1, $170 after; and April 5 for general public, "The Mandala of Being, Living More Completely in the Now," $50 pre-registered or $60 same day, sponsored by the health crisis resource center, Pathways. On April 3 Dr. Moss will present a free talk and booksigning at 7 p.m. at Wayzata Community Church, sponsored by The Bookcase of Wayzata as one of the Literary Minds Program events. For information on these events, call 952.934.9727 or e-mail [email protected]