The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself - by Michael A. Singer

There is nothing more important to true growth than realizing that you are not the voice of the mind--you are the one who hears it. Come to know the one who watches the voice, and you will come to know one of the great mysteries of creation.

The real cause of problems is not life itself. It's the commotion the mind makes about life that really causes problems.

What you end up experiencing is really a personal presentation of the world according to you, rather than the stark, unfiltered experience of what is really out there. Your consciousness is actually experiencing your mental model of reality, not reality itself.

When a problem is disturbing you, don't ask, "What should I do about it?" Ask, "What part of me is being disturbed by this?" Once you clearly see the disturbed part, then ask, "Who is it that sees this? Who notices this inner disturbance?" Asking this is the solution to your every problem. The very fact that you can see the disturbance means that you are not it.

You have to break the habit of thinking that the solution to your problems is to rearrange things outside. The only permanent solution to your problems is to go inside and let go of the part of you that seems to have so many problems with reality.

You practice opening by not closing. Any time you start to close, ask yourself whether you really want to cut off the energy flow. Because if you want, you can learn to stay open no matter what happens in this world. You just make a commitment to explore your capacity for receiving unlimited energy. You simply decide not to close. At first it feels unnatural since your innate tendency is to close as a means of protection. But closing your heart does not really protect you from anything; it just cuts you off from your source of energy. In the end, it only serves to lock you inside. If you make lists of how the world must be for you to open, you have limited your openness to those conditions. Better to be open no matter what.

Don't sell yourself short. This can go on all the time--unending inspiration, unending love, and unending openness. That is the natural state of a healthy heart. To achieve this state, simply allow the experiences of life to come in and pass through your being. If old energies come back up because you were unable to process them before, let go of them now. It's that easy.

When you close down and protect yourself, you are pulling a shell around the part of you that is weak. This is the part that feels it needs protection even though no physical attack is taking place. You are protecting your ego, your self-concept. Although a situation may present no physical danger, it may cause you to experience disturbance, fear, insecurity, and other emotional problems. So you feel the need to protect yourself. Life becomes stagnant when people protect their stored issues. People say things like, "You know we don't talk about that subject around your father." There are all these rules about things that are not supposed to happen outside because they could cause disturbance inside. Living like this allows for very little spontaneous joy, enthusiasm, and excitement for life.

The reward for not protecting your psyche is liberation. You are free to walk through this world without a problem on your mind. You are just having fun experiencing whatever happens next.

If you aren't centered, your consciousness is just following whatever catches its attention. You have the ability to not go with any of these thoughts. You can just sit in the seat of consciousness and let go. A thought or emotion emerges, you notice it, and it passes by because you allow it to. A wise person remains centered enough to let go every time the energy shifts into a defensive mode. The moment the energy moves and you feel your consciousness start to get drawn into it, you relax and release. Letting go means falling behind the energy instead of going into it. It just takes a moment of conscious effort to decide that you're not going there. You just let go. It's simply a matter of taking the risk that you are better off letting go than going with the energy. The moment you feel a change, relax your shoulders and relax the area around your heart. The moment the energy moves, you simply relax and release. Play with letting go and falling behind this sense of being bothered. This is how you make freedom a game. Instead of getting into being bothered, you get into being free.

When your stuff gets hit, let go right then because it will be harder later. It won't be easier if you explore it or play with it, hoping to take the edge off. It won't be easier to think about it, talk about it, or try to release only part of it at a time. If you want to be free to the core of your being, you must let go right away because it will not be easier later.

The spiritual journey is one of constant transformation. In order to grow, you must give up the struggle to remain the same, and learn to embrace change at all times.

By watching your mind, you will notice that it is engaged in the process of trying to make everything okay. Consciously remember that this is not what you want to do, and then gently disengage. Do not fight it. Do not ever fight your mind. You will never win. It will either beat you now, or you will suppress it and it will come back and beat you later. Instead of fighting the mind, just don't participate in it. When you see the mind telling you how to fix the world and everyone in it in order to suit yourself, just don't listen.

Begin the journey to freedom by regularly reminding yourself to watch the psyche. This will keep you from getting lost in it. Because the addiction to the personal mind is a major one, you must set up a method to remind yourself to watch. Set up trigger points in everyday life that help you remember who you are and what's going on inside.

When you truly awake spiritually, you realize you are caged. You wake up and realize that you can hardly move in there. You're constantly hitting the limits of your comfort zone. You see that you're afraid to tell people what you really think. You see that you're too self-conscious to freely express yourself. You see that you have to stay on top of everything in order to be okay. Why? There's really no reason. You have set these limits on yourself. If you don't stay within them, you get scared, you feel hurt, and you feel threatened. That's your cage. The tiger knows the limits of his cage when he hits the bars. You know the limits of your cage when the psyche starts to resist. Your bars are the outer boundary of your comfort zone. The minute you come to the edge of your cage, it lets you know it in no uncertain terms.

Going beyond means going beyond the borders of the cage. There should be no cage. The soul is infinite. It is free to expand everywhere. It is free to experience all of life. This can only happen when you are willing to face reality without mental boundaries. If you still have barriers, and you know what they are because you hit them every day, you must be willing to go beyond them. Otherwise you remain within your cage. And remember, decorating your cage with beautiful experiences, fond memories, and great dreams is not the same as going beyond. A cage by any other name is still a cage. You must be willing to go beyond. Spirituality is the commitment to go beyond, no matter what it takes. It's an infinite journey based upon going beyond yourself every minute of every day for the rest of your life. If you're truly going beyond, you are always at your limits. You're never back in the comfort zone. A spiritual being feels as though they are always against that edge, and they are constantly being pushed through it.

You are not your thoughts; you are aware of your thoughts. You are not your emotions; you feel your emotions. You are not your body; you look at it in the mirror and experience this world through its eyes and ears. You are the conscious being who is aware that you are aware of all these inner and outer things.

Stop defining the disturbed mind as a negative experience; just see if you can relax behind it. When your mind is disturbed, don't ask, "What do I do about this?" Instead ask, "Who am I that notices this?"

Committing yourself to unconditional happiness will teach you every single thing there is to learn about yourself, about others, and about the nature of life.

Every time a part of you begins to get unhappy, let it go. Work with it. Use affirmations, or do whatever you need to do to stay open. If you are committed, nothing can stop you. No matter what happens, you can choose to enjoy the experience. In the end, if you stay happy, you win. Make that your game, and just stay happy no matter what.

Meditation strengthens your center of consciousness so that you're always aware enough to not allow your heart to close. You remain open by simply letting go and releasing the tendency to close. You just relax your heart when it starts to tighten. You don't have to be outwardly glowing all the time; you're just joyful inside. Instead of complaining, you're just having fun with the different situations that unfold.

Learn to stop resisting reality, and what used to look like stressful problems will begin to look like the stepping-stones of your spiritual journey.

How does it feel when you drift up? You don't feel as much anger, fear, or self-consciousness. You don't feel resentment toward people. You don't close or get tight as often. Things still happen that you don't want to happen, but they don't seem to touch you as much. They can't reach back to where you are because you've drifted behind the part of you that reacts to things. These are actual experiences, not merely something you were told about.

What does it feel like to identify more with Spirit than with form? You used to walk around feeling anxiety and tension; now you walk around feeling love. You just feel love for no reason. Your backdrop is love. Your backdrop is openness, beauty, and appreciation. You don't have to make yourself feel that way; that is how Spirit feels.

As you go deeper and deeper, you start noticing a phenomenal thing--you are no longer judging. The process of judging simply stops. There is just appreciating and honoring. Where there used to be judging, there is now respecting, loving, and cherishing. To differentiate is to judge. To see, to experience, and to honor is to participate in life instead of standing back and judging it.

Contemplating Death

A wise being completely and totally embraces the reality, the inevitability, and the unpredictability of death. What are you doing with life? That is what death asks you.

The beauty of embracing deep truths is that you don't have to change your life; you just change how you live your life. It's not what you're doing; it's how much of you is doing it.

You should be experiencing the life that's happening to you, not the one you wish was happening. Don't waste a moment of life trying to make other things happen; appreciate the moments you are given. Don't you understand that every minute you're a step closer to death? This is how to live your life. You live it as though you were on the verge of death, because you are. Learn to live as though you are facing death at all times, and you'll become bolder and more open. If you live life fully, you won't have any last wishes. You will have lived them every moment. Only then will you have fully experienced life and released the part of you that is afraid of living.

The Secret of the Middle Way

All the great teachings reveal the way of the center, the way of balance. Constantly look to see if that's where you are living or if you are lost in the extremes. The extremes create their opposites; the wise avoid them. Find the balance in the center and you will live in harmony.