I recently finished reading Michael A. Singer’s book, The Untethered Soul; and it is one of the best books on spirituality that I have ever read. It is deceptively simple guidebook to connecting with your inner essence. By tapping into traditions of meditation and mindfulness, Singer shows how the development of consciousness enables us all to dwell in the present moment: releasing painful thoughts and memories that keep us from achieving happiness and self-realization.
Copublished with the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS) The Untethered Soul begins by walking you through your relationship with your thoughts and emotions, helping you to uncover the source and fluctuations of your inner energy. It then delves into what you can do to free yourself from the habitual thoughts, emotions, and energy patterns that limit your consciousness.
Although it is hard to boil this wonderful book down into a few key messages, here are five that resonated with me:
Instead of identifying with the incessant chatter in your head, you can bear witness to it. In doing so, you create awareness and separate yourself from it, rather than get caught up in it.
Singer states that if see yourself as an observer of the voice, you can view it more objectively. You can say to yourself, “These are just my thoughts. Just because they are doesn’t make them true. I don’t have to identify with them.” Awareness is key. Singer encourages you to live in the “Seat of Self”— the space where you allow events, thoughts, and emotions to pass before you, without drifting off with the current.
We try so hard to avoid pain that we construct a life designed around it.
Singer provides an example of having a thorn (pain) embedded in your body. If you do not remove it, you start to avoid bumping into things, so not to disturb it. You do not get too close to people because you do not want it to be touched. You have difficulty sleeping because you might roll onto it. In order to live with it, you construct a contraption to keep it from touching your sheets. You order specially tailored clothes to fit around it. The pain that you are trying so hard to avoid dictates all aspects of your life. If you instead face the pain and fear, you grant yourself permission to be free.
We tend to either cling to or resist things, rather than accept them.
What we focus on expands. If we cling to something, we are operating out of fear. We are not allowing it to pass through us so we can be fully present in the next moment. We hold on and get stuck instead. When we no longer cling or resist, we witness our fear and pain without satisfying the impulse to protect ourselves from it. This frees up energy and enables us to be present, not caught in the past or paralyzed by what might happen in the future.
We unnecessarily expend a lot of energy reacting and recovering when we could be enjoying freedom and happiness.
A lot energy is wasted swinging the pendulum from one extreme to the other—reacting and recovering. A healthier response is to notice a reaction and then choose to relax and release it.
We are most effective when we are balanced. If we forgo the extremes, we naturally have more energy available to us to live our lives fully and with purpose.
We qualify our happiness.
Singer states choosing happiness can be simple. He provides an example of a starving man who is asked what kind of food he wants. The starving man simply answering “food” rather than requesting something specific. He is not picky about the kind of nourishment that he receives.
When we are too particular regarding how we define happiness, it becomes less available to us. If we choose to embrace it in its broadest sense, we let go of our parameters, and we find peace with more far more ease and frequency.
If you would like to learn more, here is an in-depth interview with Oprah and Michael A. Singer on The Untethered Soul:
You can access free audio highlights from the book here.