Awaken Your Spirit
"Being able to share this material with you is a gift and a part of the fulfillment of my life's purpose," she said. "It was an awakening for me that I want for you too."
To bring Eckhart's spiritual teachings to readers around the world, Oprah teamed up with the author for the first live, interactive Web series in Oprah Show history. Every Monday, people come together in the Oprah.com online classroom to discuss the chapters' themes and ask questions.
The 10-part series kicked off on March 3, 2008, and since then, Oprah says it's all she wants to talk about. "It's just the most exciting thing I've ever done," she says. "Millions of people around the world have begun experiencing A New Earth for themselves and are awakening to the possibilities of their lives."
During the classes, Oprah says she and Eckhart have touched on topics like how to quiet the mind, how to put the ego in check and how to be fully present in the moment. "The one thing I know for sure is that you cannot even begin to live your best life without being connected to your spirit," she says.
New Earth students from as far away as Iraq and Australia are joining Oprah to continue the conversation about her favorite topic.
"For many people, that's a very important lesson when suddenly they do lose something," Eckhart said. "It can be a wonderful spiritual lesson. Then perhaps you suffer, and then your attachment gets broken, and suddenly, you go beyond the attachment. There have been people who have lost everything and suddenly become free of the ego because the ego had nothing left to identify with."
Jillian says Eckhart's words helped her learn to accept the present moment as it is. "[It] helped me was to see that those attachments were very, very superficial," she says. "What I was experiencing—the anxiety and the loss and everything—was really just an acceptance of looking in the mirror and seeing myself...and finding out what was left when all those things were stripped away."
As the mother of two grown children and four adopted children with special needs, Jillian says she always tried to play the role of perfect, therapeutic mother. "That role nearly buried me," she says. "This book helped me to see that really my gift to my children is that I'm present. That I'm with them. That I'm here."
Doug says he's also noticed changes in the way Jillian lives her life. "She's much more peaceful," he says. "It's been a wonderful change in the past few weeks."
Now that she's been stripped of her material wealth and her ego, Jillian says she's getting the best sleep she's had in years. "I sleep very peacefully."
Over the years, Krys says she's maintained an active lifestyle, run marathons, played sports and worked out with a personal trainer, but the extra pounds stayed put. "I have a struggle with food that has kept my weight about 30 pounds above where it probably should be," she says.
Krys says she read a passage on page 86 of Oprah's latest Book Club selection that resonated with her. On this page, Eckhart writes, "Behind every negative self-concept is the hidden desire of being the greatest or being better than others."
Krys says these words helped her recognize the real reason she's been battling the bulge for so many years. "My inner ego desire was to be skinnier than other people or better than other people because I was skinnier," she says. "It just really resonated inside my entire being because I don't think I realized that I had that inside of me."
From that day on, Krys says she stopped emotional eating. "I just eat if I need to. It's like a fuel," she says. "If I get upset about something, I don't know, I just have this ability now to sort of stay in the moment that I'm in. ... It takes work, but I'm a lot better at it than I ever was."
Before learning to live in the present, Krys wore a size 16–18 and weighed herself several times a day. Her new outlook on life has helped her drop three pant sizes, and she's stopped stepping on the scale. "I don't really need to weigh myself anymore," she says.
Before reading Eckhart's first best-seller, The Power of Now, and his latest work, Jim says he would waste hours trapped in the movement of his own thoughts.
"Sometimes I've spent two hours of my day thinking about one person I resent and going through orations and [thinking], 'If he ever says this, I'll say that,'" Jim says. "I find myself now, when I get caught up in something like that, becoming conscious suddenly and going, 'Oh, wait, I'm here. I'm not with that person right now. I'm creating things that don't even exist.' It's useless. It's time badly spent."
As the co-founder of Omega Institute, America's largest adult education center focusing on health, wellness, spirituality and creativity, Elizabeth has studied and worked with leading figures in the fields of healing and spiritual development for decades. "[Omega Institute] is one of the premiere centers for spiritual growth and healing in the United States," Oprah says.
Elizabeth says the teachings in this book are not part of another belief system. In fact, she compares the lessons to the honey in your tea or sugar in your coffee. "It's really a sweetener," she says. "If you are a religious person, and you practice ... being fully present and alive in the moment, and let's say your moment is church or the mosque or temple. Wow, that's just going to make it even better."
Read Elizabeth's definition of spirituality and religion.
Oprah says books like A New Earth help readers connect to their spirits, souls, consciousness...or whatever you want to call it. Elizabeth says they also help answer questions like, "Who am I?" and "What's my purpose?"
"Every one of us here in this audience, we long for something more than just getting up and battling our way through life," she says. "We somehow sense that there's something more, that we came from somewhere, that we're going somewhere. This journey we're on in life is really an eternal journey. Religions grew up around those deep questions."
When she was in her mid-20s, Elizabeth had a defining spiritual moment, which she shares in the May 2008 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine. The moment occurred as she sat at the bedside of a close friend who was dying from cancer. "I sort of followed her breathing out, and as she took her last breaths, I sort of went a little ways with her," Elizabeth says. "It was in that moment, I really had something that you can hardly describe...some miraculous moment where I really got in touch with my eternal soul."
By dropping some association of herself as only her body, Elizabeth says she was able to go a little ways with her friend as she passed away. "That really set me on my path," she says.
A New Earth has also shown Margit a different way of looking at Jesus Christ. "I've always tried to find a deeper inner connection with the purpose that Christ had here on earth," Margit says. "All my life, I thought it was just for him to die on the cross for my sins. But I now recognize that Jesus actually taught me Christ consciousness. To be fully human is to be Christ-like."
"I looked out at them, and I saw their faces, and they looked like my mom or my aunt or my friends, and I thought, 'Today's really about them. It's about them having a good time and enjoying being here on this show,'" she says. "So I took a deep breath, and I was able to leave my nerves behind and I made peace with the present moment. I sat down on that couch, and I had the best time and I enjoyed every moment of it."
"I was so glad that she watched that class," Katie says. "She hasn't been calling me and giving me unsolicited advice. When we talk, I feel more like we're having a conversation—like she's one of my friends. My mom's my best friend, so I'm happy about the shift."
Watch Jim and Jenny discuss living in the moment.
"The only peace you can ever find is in the now. In this moment right here. As soon as my thoughts go out to tomorrow—I'm worried about this bill I have and I need to pay off, or my mortgage, or Evan's behavior or medicines—I am unconscious," she says. "If I come right back to the present, which is me sitting in this chair and I'm talking to you, there's peace."
Oprah says she was afraid she and Eckhart did not fully answer that question, but Kidada says the answer became clear during the class on Chapter 4. "I would have to say that his very specific instructions of feeling the subtle body breathing, paying attention to nature...those very specific instructions brought a space into my life that I haven't experienced," Kidada says. "Within the space came all of these gifts—compassion, patience, newfound oneness. All of my time kind of slowed down. Everything just kind of had brakes. When I pay attention to those very specific directions, it's a whole new reality for me."
Kidada says her mind used to be like a moving freeway, but slowing down has been like lifting a veil. "I feel a greater sense of confidence," she says. "I feel a greater sense of togetherness. I feel like we're all on the same path. We're all headed to the same thing, and there's no need to be judgmental."
"Recently, my depression has been getting worse because I'm now approaching the five-year mark," she says. "I'm coming to terms with my mortality, thinking about how I'm going to die, when I'll die and if it will be painful."
During the Chapter 4 class, Eckhart explained why he does not fear death. "The ego has dissolved, and so only the ego fears death," he said. "I know there is no death. Usually when people talk about immortality, they use certain arguments, perhaps from physics. They say the energy never gets destroyed. Energy can only become transformed. So the vital energy that is your life, because energy cannot be destroyed, must survive in some form. That is often the argument for the survival of that life—there is no death. Only the form dissolves."
Penny says she now no longer struggles with depression and anxiety. She's just excited to live! "I planned a trip to Vegas. Even when I bake a pie now I smell it, I feel the dough. I know my body's crumbling. I'm out of energy a lot, and it's probably happening. But at the same time, it doesn't scare me."
Mason says reading A New Earth has helped him cope with the stresses of war. "My mom gave it to me to read before I came here and, like I said, with the recent fighting that's going on, I've realized at any moment—not to sound melodramatic—but I could be casualty number 4,003 or 4,004. And that can drive you crazy," he says. "I've tried to just calm myself down and stay in the present moment and realize that I'm probably going to live through this. When I get back home, I don't get a gift certificate or anything with all that wasted energy worrying about it."
To remind himself to stay in the present, Mason says he carries a card in his pocket at all times with 10 principles from A New Earth written on it. "It says, 'Getting through Iraq and beyond—some practical steps,'" Mason says. "I wrote, 'Be aware that what I think to a large extent creates the emotions that I feel. See the link between my thinking and my emotions. Rather than being my thoughts and emotions, be the awareness behind them.'"
Jenny says a passage on page 8 of A New Earth helped her let go of her negative emotions. On this page, Eckhart writes, "When you can recognize the unconsciousness in you, that which makes the recognition possible is the arising consciousness, is awakening. You cannot fight against the ego and win, just as you cannot fight against darkness. The light of consciousness is all that is necessary. You are the light."
Although she and her husband are still separated, Jenny says she now reacts to her husband without anger. "Reading Tolle and accepting what he is and realizing that advice about pain-bodies, we're just trying to be built up, and our egos were trying to be inflated, that really helped me," she says. "When I read Eckhart say that's what was happening, to not do that, and to let go, that was quite a relief."
"It's not too late for you to be a part of it," she says. "I promise you this, if you're ready, it can help transform your life...in little ways and big ways."