Book review: The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself, Michael Singer

A book about meditation gave me a lot to reflect on this Easter weekend. First of all, ask yourself “who am I?” These and other soul searching questions are the theme of Michael Singer’s “The Untethered Soul”, a book that offers meditations on existence and consciousness.

So what are our souls tethered to anyway?

Are you your name? Are you someone’s partner? These are labels. Are you your life story? Those are experiences. So who are you? When you sleep, who dreams? What does it mean to dream? Who sees your dreams when you dream?

So far, so Hamlet.

With meditation you can learn how to observe your thoughts, the emotions and you realise emotions come and go. Singer says let them. Let go of experiences. Who is experiencing the experience? *You*, the experiencer.

Contemplate the source of your consciousness. When you contemplate the nature of self, it is meditation. You become aware of who you are. 

Energy

Have you ever been dumped? The energy of the dumped is lethargy and depression. Then imagine the phone rings and the ex apologises. You might experience a burst of energy, and smile. 

Depressed people have blocked energy. So how do you unblock the energy? In Yoga it’s called Chakras. In Chinese medicine it’s called Chi. Spiritual energy is what you experience when love enters your heart. To be receptive to spiritual energy, don’t close off your heart.

Healing old wounds

A closed heart is usually based on past experiences. A Samskara is a term in yoga that sounds like ‘scar’. A Samskara is a blocked energy pattern, an experience that keeps circling around itself. The heart holds Samskaras, and if it builds up, forms a depression.

Singer uses the metaphor of the thorn, get to the root, pull out the thorn instead of adjusting your life to make allowances for your thorns i.e. avoiding emotional pain. Don’t resist the painful energy, relax into pain and let it go. It’s easier to let go of pain if you accept it than try and resist it.

Every time you relax and release, a piece of the pain leaves forever, yet every time you resist and close, your psyche builds up pain like a dam.

When in Rome, do as the Romans do

I did this with some thoughts I kept putting out of my mind and let myself experience those painful thoughts, and my chest became hot, my heart felt a burn. It’s called the “fire of yoga” and pain is the price of freedom. Face your emotional pain and it will free you. Do not try to change your life to avoid emotional pain or this inner work because it is spiritual growth. 

One decision

Singer says you have one decision to make in life. Do you want to be happy? Or not? If the answer is yes, then say “yes” regardless of what happens in your life. Your happiness is under your control. 

Not “as long as this doesn’t happen or that doesn’t happen.” If you decide “yes”, then you’ll become enlightened. You have to mean it when you say you’ll choose to be happy no matter what life brings. It could be an awakening.

Big issues

Later chapters Singer talks about Death and God. Death is there for perspective, to remind us of what is important in life, that our time is limited, and we should be grateful to death for this gift.

Singer’s concept of God is less Old Testament and more Book of John and Luke; God is love. God isn’t vengeful. He looks at all people the same way we look at different flowers and can appreciate the beauty in each one.

Love

Singer believes God (however you understand Him) loves us and you can tap into that energy anytime you decide to be happy no matter what life throws at you.

Make that decision, and untether yourself from the pain of hurts and injuries by accepting them, and being aware that you are not your emotions, you are not what happens to you, because really, you are the “experiencer” of your emotions and life.

It is this mental distancing from the immediate impact of life as an *experiencer of life* that can give you the space to experience inner peace.

I enjoy the physical exercise of Yoga because it takes me out of my cerebral mode for a while. Now I will take a new appreciation for the cerebral space and distance from the existential pain of life that Yoga gifts me.

Chocolate Easter Eggs are quite good at making me happy too.

Happy Easter.

Published by

LucyBower

From tiny acorns mighty oaks grow.

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