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5.0 out of 5 starsInspiring and Useful!
Reviewed in the United States on January 20, 2020
I have read a great number of self help books, many of them on living in the moment and staying present. I often end up feeling like a failure, like something is fundamentally wrong with me, so wrong in fact, that I need to read a book to fix myself. With Ernest Holm Svendsen's books I feel supported and respected as a human being and instead of feeling like there is something wrong with me I find that I have a deeper understanding of myself and others. He presents the material without urgency or judgment, only a clear-eyed look at the human condition. It is not like other books I have read on this topic that are more suited for hermits and monks with nothing to do but meditate and take long contemplative walks. "How to Live in the Now" is a book written for ordinary people, living ordinary and busy lives. It is unpretentious and straightforward. I found his exercises to be useful and eye-opening. His scientific approach to how our brains work and why they work that way allowed me to appreciate my humanity. You don't have to abandon your life or your personality to have peace of mind and heart. This book gives you a way to do that. I will be buying this book in a hard copy so I can keep it near me for regular reference.
I have already read a few books on how to live in the now, so a lot of the information in this book was familiar to me, including some of the exercises. But one point did give me an epiphany of sorts: the fact that dishonesty in your life can keep you from living in the now. It does so because being dishonest about yourself and to others makes you not only inauthentic, but also keeps you scheming ways to keep up this image of yourself. And when your mind is busy with protecting your forged identity, you are not living in the now, ever. Svendsen gives an exercise to help bring you back to your authentic self that may just be the scariest thing you’ll ever have to do—so, I implore you to read about this and I dare you to try the exercise! In fact, I think you must do this before you can do any of the other exercises that get you to just live and enjoy life while you’re here. A very good job done on this topic!
This book has lots of good information. It is designed to give one the experience of living in the present moment. While, I find all the information accurate, the inspiration to be present, for me at least, does not come from doing exercises. It comes from feeling feelings. All feelings. Feelings can transport into past and future, and left unfelt can block presence. Once allowed, feelings can be integrated by presence itself and so set us free to experience what is actually happening now. While I appreciate the hard work it took to put all of the information in this book together, I found the format a bit too intellectual for my taste. It didn't draw me in emotionally. There is plenty to consider intellectually, though, and for some that may be the invitation to feel presence. Thank you, Ernest Holm Svendsen, for your work.
5.0 out of 5 starsHow to Live in the Now: Why This Is So Hard To Do and How You Can Actually Do It
Reviewed in the United States on January 20, 2020
Finally a book about living in the present moment that explains why it’s so difficult for most of us to actually practice presence. Ernest Holm Svendsen’s newest book begins with a clear explanation of how the very nature of the human brain predisposes us to escape into the past, future, or just an alternate version of the present. Like a Russian doll, the sections of this book contain more and more specific information, each chapter growing organically out of the preceding layer. In the beginning the author presents fundamental facts about our concept of time. Next he tells about the human brain and its ability to self-organize to the point where it forms patterns and is able to work on a kind of autopilot. The author then considers how our developing an understanding of ourselves and maintaining this self-identity happens at a great cost of energy and leads to a distancing of ourselves from honesty and thus from the present. Having introduced a foundation for a training program, the author spends the second half of the book introducing the training program for how we can become less involved in the struggle to maintain a largely false identity and instead become better at just being present and living now as opposed to in some illusory past or future. The remaining sections are devoted to helping the reader with putting the training into practice. The author’s writing style is clear and spare, with carefully chosen words and elegantly crafted sentences. The information is liberally augmented with experiential components that bring the concepts into the body of the reader. Svendsen’s exercises are almost game-like; yet, after engaging in each exercise, I understood the preceding content on a much more physical and emotional level, like the difference between reading sheet music and actually playing a tune on an instrument. After each exercise I felt that I owned the skill being presented and would be able to repeat it on my own. Among the strengths of the book are the sequencing and organization of the material, the exercises, and the examples from Svendsen’s own life. The diagrams increase the accessibility of the exercises; the appendix about Einstein’s theory of time is a very useful addition. I also appreciated the list of references and the careful explanatory footnotes throughout. I love this book and highly recommend it.
Ernest writes in a flowing, clear and easy-to-understand style which is particularly helpful in his explanation of the neurology of the brain and how it traps us in circular thinking patterns. He gives anyone who cares about becoming more conscious a compelling reason to practice his simple exercises like the brilliant Seeing Your Blind Spot. As someone who has facilitated and practiced The Work of Byron Katie for ten years, I am aware of the need for practitioners to understand how the brain works in order to support depersonalizing old self-defeating habits and patterns and Ernest compellingly conveys this information.
He writes, “What keeps us out of the now is our own aversion to it. The fact that we do not want to accept the now as it is.” Byron Katie is known for “loving what is” which in my experience is a stretch for most of us, so I am pleased that Ernest stresses “accepting what is” about the now which is so much more doable and still positively life changing. A truly captivating read and I highly recommend it to anyone who longs for inner freedom!
5.0 out of 5 starsI loved this book for the way the author took me gently by the hand....
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 21, 2020
....and led me through a simple explanation of how the brain works, of why we cling to autopilot and identity, and, finally, took me step-by-step through the exercises he has designed to point us towards living in the now. For days after reading this book I heard, as if for the first time, how many things my friends and family were worried about, complained about, how they reinforced their identity in their choice of language, possessions, decision-making, how much they wished for better weather, a different job, better health, longer holidays. And of course it was not them, it was me…. I saw and heard all the times I have complained and wished for something other than what is. It was as if this book had helped me hold a mirror up to myself and gently, kindly, encouraged me to take a good, long look! For the last two years I have been reading deeply and widely across a range of spiritual teachers - which is how I came to learn about The Art of Being Human - and, until this book, I hadn’t come across a guidebook to living in the now as simple and clear as this - do-able ideas and exercises grounded in clear language. Simple, clear, awakened living.
5.0 out of 5 starsNOW is where we need to be - a practical guide to get there
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 23, 2020
A fantastic read yet again by Ernest Holm Svendsen about getting present and living ones life right here right now!! I love how the book is so easy to read and in particular his exploration of the mind he takes a close look at the human brain and ones struggle for identity , While also offering brilliant tools to put living in the now into practice . I like this book because it’s short easy to read , mind provoking and mind resetting with its practical tools .
5.0 out of 5 starsA training programme for being in the Now
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 21, 2020
I bought this book after reading ‘How to end the stories that screw up your life’ and it didn’t disappoint. Ernest Holm Svendsen has the gift of being able to clearly articulate concepts in ways that makes sense to me in my busy personal and professional life. Despite reading many books about living in the present, I had a number of ‘I understand now!’ moments in part one and thinking about some of the actions suggested took me out of my comfort zone even while reading! But this is where this book is different from many I’ve read - part two suggests a pragmatic ‘training programme’ that will no doubt challenge me but encourages me to develop the discipline of living in the Now.
5.0 out of 5 starsExcellent guide to Byron Katie's Work
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 20, 2021
This an excellent guide to self inquiry in its own right. However for me it was a really good expansion on the work of Byron Katy. It is a very easy book to read and yet it goes deep into one's mind, reminding over and over to be totally honest in questioning who we are, what we are afraid of and most importantly the assumptions we have that we didn't notice that we had. If you want to do self inquiry this is the book to have.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 20, 2020
It gave me a much better understanding of why it is so difficult for me to live in the NOW. And it suggests practical tools for re-tuning myself to the magic of being here, now. I am really excited about putting the tools into practice!