Book: The Untethered Soul
Author: Michael A. Singer
Who should read this book: Everyone.
If you haven’t read Part 1 of this series, you should do that now. Click here. This post will make more sense to you if you’ve read part 1.
Part 2 – Open Mind
You know that voice in your head? The one that’s always distracting you when you’re trying to focus on something? The one that is always reminding you of things, or judging things you see? The voice that is anxious, stressed, worrying, saying ‘what if’ all the time? That voice isn’t you. Just because it’s inside your head doesn’t mean it’s you. You are the one listening to that voice. Just like how you are not your emotions, you have emotions. You are not your thoughts, you have thoughts.
This is the biggest lesson I got from this book. To step back and listen to this voice. When I first finished the chapter about this voice in my head, I was a little confused. How could that voice not be me? But then I listened to it. I was in the shower, and I just listened. I let my mind wonder as it normally would in the shower. (If you don’t follow r/showerthoughts on reddit, you can check that out and see what I mean). The first thing I noticed about my inner roommate, as Singer calls it, is that she was pretty negative and anxious. She was thinking about the work day ahead and worrying about all the different ways that could suck. As soon as I observed how much she was stressing about work, I laughed out loud.
I have an important job within my company and it definitely comes with some stress, but I also work for my husband and a friend. I make my own hours and I can work from home. My job is not stressful. My job is great! I love my job, I love that I can bring my dog to work, I love that I can work from home when I have to. Like today while I’m writing this and there’s too much snow for my baby car to handle. Why was my inner roommate complaining so much? That’s when I understood what Singer was saying about how that voice isn’t you. That voice that was stressing about the work day ahead wasn’t me, because I love my job, that was some other concept that I have learned from society. Work isn’t supposed to be fun or easy, it’s supposed to be stressful. The media tells us all we are supposed to dread the work week and live for the weekend. So that’s what my inner voice was doing. But it’s not how I actually feel.
Every moment of your day is a battle between inner energy and outer energy. Where will you focus? You know those moments when you zone out? You’re doing one thing and your mind starts to wonder and suddenly something snaps your attention back to reality, and you realize you weren’t paying attention? That’s your inner voice distracting you. That voice is always trying to help you take the infinite possibilities of reality and make them finite and controllable.
“Your views, your opinions, your preferences, your concepts, your goals, and your beliefs are all ways of bringing the infinite universe down to the finite where you can feel a sense of control. Since the analytical mind cannot handle the infinite, you created an alternate reality of finite thoughts that can remain fixed within your mind.” (Untethered Soul page 120)
This concept of control is very hard to see sometimes. Singer talks about how we create this self concept of ourselves. As we grow older, ideas and concepts of other people and society pass before us. Some of them we let go by without a thought and some of them we pull into ourselves and use to construct our self. These ideas are like walls we build around ourselves to create an identity. And when someone or something comes along that doesn’t agree with our walls, we defend, we judge, and we push it away.
“If something happens to challenge the walls of your psyche, you get highly defensive. You have built a self-concept, moved inside, and now you defend that home with all you have.” (Untethered Soul page 116-117)
This self-concept is our way of controlling what’s around us. We use it to attempt to control everything in our lives, including other people. We are constantly trying to control every situation. I’ve met very few people in my life that are truly free from this. Some people can relinquish control in some situations but it takes a lot of self-awareness. But we all need to let go of this need to organize our lives in our heads. Life is unpredictable, people are going to react differently than you expect, and you can’t control it. And! You don’t know why they are reacting that way! They might have a block in their heart that causes them to get angry or act a certain way. (See Part 1).
“If anything happens that challenges how you view things, you fight. You defend. You rationalize. You get frustrated and angry over simple little things.” (Untethered Soul page 120)
My point is, everyone has that inner roommate in their head talking to them incessantly. How they handle every situation is out of your control. For example, the bakery ran out of your favourite muffin before you got there, out of your control. There is no sense getting upset with the cashier. Or maybe the woman in front of you is getting mad at the cashier about this and you roll your eyes. Well you don’t know, maybe that woman comes to this bakery for that muffin once a week to bring to her dying father. If you knew that, would you roll your eyes? She’s getting angry over something simple and out of her control but it’s because she has built a wall, a concept, about taking care of her dying father and today she feels like she can’t do it. So she fights.
“The alternative is to decide not to fight with life. You realize and accept that life is not under your control. Life is continuously changing, and if you’re trying to control it, you’ll never be able to fully live it.” (Untethered Soul page 73)
You should listen to this voice, observe what it says, where it goes. The phrase ‘train of thought’ is legitimately what is going on in there. When you stop hearing that voice and start listening to it, you can tell it to shut up. You can tell it to let go, stop worrying, everything will be okay. You can take a higher seat within yourself, and if something pulls you down and you start trying to control again, just notice this and stop. Then climb back up to that higher seat and tell yourself you are loved, you are happy, you are enough. And live your life.
“You’re just on a planet spinning around the middle of nowhere. You came here to visit for a handful of years and then you’re going to leave. How can you live all stressed out over everything? Don’t do it!” (Untethered Soul page 135)
I hope you read this review and decide you can open your mind to the full possibilities of life. If you feel you are ready to open your mind and open your heart to the infinite, you are ready to read this book.