I certainly would not identify myself as a spiritual person. Well not until the last couple of years that is. It used to be that when it came to spiritualism, meditation and mindfulness, the idea of some hippy psychic gazing into a coffee cup and trying to make some worldly sense of her crema was all I could conjure up. For me, the concept of 'live every day like it's your last' had merit but was also an excuse for an individual to take no responsibility for their reckless behaviour in the present.
Yet when I hit a really difficult time in my life around 4-5 years ago, a certain spirituality from deep within me was born. It was almost as if I'd hit a low-point and the world responded by throwing me a line. That line came from my cousin in the form of a book by Eckhart Tolle called 'The Power of Now'. He insisted I read it to help put into context my worries and start working on a plan to bounce back.
The first few chapters were a really difficult read. The author himself suggests not getting caught up on trying to understand each paragraph on a literal level for the words are more like signposts pointing to a greater meaning. I was used to reading books on self-development and sales theory; this was from another world.
Yet as the pages turned, I felt an incredible resonance of familiarity with the book. In fact, within four weeks I ended up reading it cover to cover no less than three times. With each subsequent read, the meaning became clearer and clearer to me. I felt closer to understanding the true me more than ever before. Oh god, this sounds very artsy farts doesn't it!
The book is intended as a guide to staying locked in the present moment whilst living in the stressed, modern age. It sheds light on the reality of today - that we spend so much time mentality deliberating on scenarios of the past or future that it has left us with little time to enjoy the present. It suggests that if only we were not so occupied by the incessant chatter that goes on inside all of our heads, we may be able to reach a state of peace and inner tranquility more often and even if only for a moment.
I feel that the clear uprising of mindfulness pursuits like yoga and mediation in modern society has occurred as a result of our wider acknowledgment that we cannot continue to torture ourselves with 'what ifs'. Mental ill-health is at an all-time high and unless we stop and give attention to addressing these rising stress levels, it will continue to rise.
Call it spirituality, call it focussed relaxation or call it 'commitment to doing nothing really well', we men need to recognise that our quality of life is measured according to more than just the speed at which we operate. We must take time out to stop, breathe and enjoy what is. I'm not suggesting you need to run out and get a 'Carpe Diem' tattoo on your bicep, merely take a minute to do something that refreshes you, reinvigorates you and gives you a chance to experience the very essence of life. The power of the present moment.