Many of us have read books by Eckhart Tolle, Byron Katie and others and have been inspired to try and live in the Now. We hope that by doing so we will experience the bliss and serenity that these writers appear to experience on a permanent basis. It all goes great for a while, we go about our days mindfully and in the Now – but then suddenly there’s a crisis, and in a flash those old feelings of anger and sadness and disappointment are with us again. What happened to the bliss of being in the Now?

What happened is not that we fell out of the Now, it’s that we walked right into the biggest trap of them all – the Enlightenment trap. We made the assumption that when we are enlightened, or when we have found the Now, we will exist in a state of bliss where nothing bothers us and uncomfortable emotions and reactions never arise. So when any anger, irritation and discomfort do occur, we take it as evidence that we have fallen out of this ideal state, and inevitably conclude – with some frustration – that we’re obviously very far from ever being enlightened.

But is this really the case? Are we really so sure that the Now is a place filled only with groovy feelings? When we read books about being in the Now or being in the moment we can get carried away by what these teachers are saying and conclude that their bliss is comprised of non-stop happy feelings. However, this isn’t what is really happening at all. When we look closer, it becomes apparent that the bliss of the Now is not because there are only happy feelings and no sad feelings. The bliss of the Now is realising that neither happiness nor sadness define us or say anything about who we really are. These emotional states are just passing experiences – happy, sad, comfortable, disgruntled, irritated, bored, sleepy – they all arise effortlessly without our involvement and do not refer to our true self in any way.

When you no longer chase after happiness or run from sadness and discomfort, that is bliss. If happiness arises in you, good. If discomfort arises, good.

What enlightened masters have that the rest of us don’t have is the knowing that they do not need to get enlightened. There is nothing to get, because nothing in this world is who you are. So here’s the invitation – let happiness and discomfort exist in you, and favour neither. The moment you try to change the experience by having more of one and less of the other you move out of the Now into time. Let the Now be the place where you know nothing can change because the Now is all that is possible. And let the Now be the place where you know that nothing has to change in order for you to be in bliss. Happy, sad, irritated, ecstatic – all the same. None of these is who you are. You are that which is aware of these experiences, and this aware presence is always fully enlightened.

Author's Bio: 

Russel Brownlee is a hypnotherapist and life coach. For an enlightening approach to therapy, visit