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February's Book: The Untethered Soul

I want to get back to some of my regularly “scheduled programming” when it comes to my blog. I am sure in the coming weeks I will have more to say about what is going on in our world with this virus, as well as updates on life in quarantine, but for today I wanted to share my February book review. I am still committed to my 2020 goals. The thing is, I don’t want to lose hope and I definitely don’t want to give up. I want to stay on track with my fitness goals and with my resolution to become a better version of myself with each passing day. So I am still staying on track to read a book a month. I may be a bit behind posting February’s book but I hope you enjoy it! At the end of the blog I’ll share a sneak peak of my March book and what I am currently reading in April.

For February my book of choice falls into my favourite book category, you guessed it, self-help. This book had been recommended to me a few times in the past and I actually had it in my Amazon cart for a while. Another one of my goals this year was to save more money, so I decided to check it out of my local library instead of buying it on Amazon! The funny thing is, I still have the book checked out as our library closed and asked us to keep all the books we had to ensure we weren’t spreading the virus. It’s a good thing too, as this book did take me a while to get through. It is NOT an easy read. It’s not light in anyway and it really hurt my brain. There is no other way to describe it! Did I love it? Not really. Did I think it was helpful and useful and would I still recommend it? Yes. In all honesty, I think it’s a book that you should pick up right now. It is so applicable to what is going on in the world, and seeing as most of us have some extra time on our hands it won’t matter if it takes you weeks or even months to finish it.

The Untethered Soul is all about your inner thoughts and your relationship with who you are or who you think you are and the world around you. The goal of the book was to awaken you to the idea that you are not the voice in your head. Over a decade ago I had heard this very same explanation of that voice in my head from a book called A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle. That book was another heavy read but once again I do recommend it. When I read this line from a New Earth “What a liberation to realize that the ‘voice in my head’ is not who I am. Who am I then? The one who sees that.” I was probably about 25 years old when I read that line and honestly my mind was blown. I wanted to shout at Tolle, what do you mean the voice in my head isn’t me? The voice that literally never stops talking. If you were in my head you would be screaming for me, or for “my voice” to shut up. I have been working for years and years and years to slowly quiet that voice, to stop the chatter with meditation and with yoga and I’m still in a battle trying to quiet that voice. But it’s a pretty amazing thing to realize that voice, it isn’t me!

The author of The Untethered Soul, Michael A. Singer begins the book by explaining the relationship we have with our inner voice and how that voice is shaped by our outward experiences. For example, if you had a poor experience being bitten by a dog as a child, you might say you have a fear of dogs, and that inner voice will continually tell you to be fearful of dogs and that will become your narrative. You are now not a dog person. The voice in this case took control of that narrative. I am not dismissing that you were bitten as a child, but how you carry that forward or how you deal or don’t deal with that experience can shape your life. He states that in order to attain inner freedom from this voice, you must be able to objectively step back from the voice or narrative and watch your “problem” instead of being lost in them. How quickly can we spiral down a thought path? In my case, very quickly.

The author talks a great deal about energy and how external energy can impact your internal energy or your state of mind. In one paragraph he explains this so well and I want to share it here. “When the energies inside start to move, you do not have to go there. For instance, when your thoughts start, you do not have to go with them. Let’s say you’re outside taking a walk and a car drives by. Your thoughts say ‘Boy, I wish I had that car’. You could just keep walking, but instead you start getting upset. You want a car like that, but your salary isn’t high enough. So you begin thinking about how you can get a raise or a different job. You didn’t have to do all that. It could have just been --- here comes the car and there it goes, and here comes the thought and there is goes. They’re both gone together because you didn’t go with them. That is what’s called being centered.”

This is just a short example that is given in the book, but if you take a few minutes to tune into your inner voice, you will see how quickly it can lead you down a path you had no plans of going down. For me, I find this often when I meditate. Whenever I am teaching a mediation class, I always remind people it is okay to have thoughts, your job isn’t to stop the thoughts from coming; your job is to not follow the train of thought. When I find my mind wondering when I meditate, which is often, I just bring myself back to my centre and my breath and I let the thoughts float by. I find this very difficult to do in mediation and that is when I’m sitting still and actively trying to calm that inner voice, so you can imagine how difficult that can be when you are out in the world living your life.

Singer also discusses fear and how fear can work against us. He explained that our attempts to protect ourselves from problems usually lead to more problems. When we try to arrange people or places or things to cause the least disturbance to us, it begins to feel like life is against us when things don’t go our way, or the way we think they should. Stress happens when we resist our life’s events. This is so applicable right now. I know I am feeling fearful and stressed right now, because like every single person in this world, I did not see this coming! I didn’t see 2020 starting out with a global pandemic with lock-downs all over the world. So of course I’m fearful and stressed! However when I take a step back and realize there is literally nothing I can do to stop what is happening (except social distancing of course!) I realize that my stress and fear is because I am trying to control something I can’t control. I have to let that shit go and so do you. Is it easy? Absolutely not, but it’s necessary. Stress and fear do not serve us, they only make us more susceptible to illness, the very thing we are stressed and fearful of.

In the final chapters of the book, Singer discussed happiness and how happiness truly is a choice. He asks the simple question, do you want to be happy? Often people answer that yes of course they want to be happy but…and that but is something as big as my husband left me to as small as the guy cut me off traffic and now I’m angry. Singer states that there is no but, you either want to be happy and you will work every single day towards happiness or you don’t. He offers some simple advice that every time you find yourself feeling unhappy you need to let whatever is upsetting you go. He explains you need to keep your heart and your energy open, offering the suggestions of affirmations or mediation.

Overall the concepts of this book are good, the core of the information is good and I really encourage you to read it. The above are just my main takeaways but maybe you will have different ones? There are two reasons I would say I didn’t love this book. The first is that as I mentioned above the information and the way it was presented was very heavy and at times repetitive and dry. The second reason is that I like tangible, step by step type instructions on how to improve my life. How do I take the information that he has presented and actually apply it to my daily life? He briefly mentioned meditation and affirmations, but honestly that was it. He didn’t give great examples of what to do become more of a spectator to your inner voice rather than letting that inner voice control you.

If you have read this book I would love to hear your thoughts! For March my book was For The Love by Jen Hatmaker. I really enjoyed it! My April book is by Dave Hollis entitled Get Out Of Your Own Way and it’s so good! Happy Reading!

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