How Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now taught a fashion CEO that ‘your mind is your greatest enemy’

The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment (1997), by German self-help author and spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle, is a guide to living based on various spiritual traditions, which advocates for the power of living solely in the moment rather than focusing on the past or future.

Frederieke van Doorn, the Netherlands-born founder and CEO of Hong Kong-based women’s tailoring brand Frey, tells Richard Lord how it changed her life.

I started reading it two or three years ago. It was at the beginning of what I’m doing now with my own company and brand. It was stressful; it still is. A very good friend recommended it: “You need to read this; it’s really going to help you.”

Through the book, you find out that your mind is your greatest enemy.

Eckhart Tolle speaks at the James L Knight Centre in Miami, in the US state of Florida, on April 24, 2019. Photo: Getty Images
If you learn to control your mind by living in the now, not the future or the past, and just pay attention to what you’re doing now, it’s so powerful.

At this moment, there’s no pain or stress – it only comes from the future or the past. I can get lost in thinking about things I’ve done in the past or about the future.

The book had a calming effect. I really, really needed it at that time. I’d started my own business, there was still Covid, and my thoughts could really run away.

It was a revelation to me. I’m not really a spiritual reader, and it wasn’t recommended to me as a spiritual book. The funny thing was, when I started it, in the first chapter, he’s talking about being a spiritual guide, and I thought: “Oh God – who recommended this to me? I’m not a spiritual believer.”

But I carried on – I was intrigued by the fact that he said the mind was so powerful, and also an enemy.

The cover of The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment.
I’ve listened to the audiobook many times because it helps me ground myself, without spiralling into stressful thoughts and anxiety. It still happens – I’m stuck in the past or the future, and I can just listen to it for five or 10 minutes, and I’m back to what he’s trying to say: that your mind is doing this to you.
I especially listen to it when I’m walking outside. He describes really looking at the trees and butterflies – it sounds so corny to say it out loud, but he taught me to go back to the now and enjoy the now.

Also, when you’re with someone, really be in the conversation. It’s so easy to think about other stuff, but it’s so powerful to have a conversation with someone just in the now. I try to enjoy engaging with every person who comes into the store (in Central), not just focus on what I need to sell.

It gets much lighter when you just focus on that one person.

When people would say “enjoy it now”, it used to be such an empty sentence to me, but after I read the book, I understand it now, especially with my children. I feel really different. Now I hear myself saying it to other people.

I don’t know where my brand is going to be in five years; I just want to enjoy it now.


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