I stopped reading self-help books ten years ago when I realized they were all saying the same thing. I went on to pursue my spiritual life in other ways, but recently I decided to see what was new in the area that had been published in the last decade. The bestsellers today are mostly what have been popular for the last 20-30 years–Louise Hay, Abraham Hicks, Wayne Dyer, Deepak Chopra. However, there were some that intrigued me or that I was finally ready to stop resisting, as was the case with Byron Katie, whom I’d heard about for years but could never get my energy to line up with until now.
The first book I picked up was The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer. (FYI, Singer’s latest book is The Surrender Experiment.) The cover caught my eye years ago. I mean, really, it’s a horse running on the beach. Who isn’t going to want to pick that up? But I never felt called to read it until now. Singer says the same thing as other metaphysics self-help books do, but in a different way. He spends a lot of time talking about that voice in your head. Everyone has it. Everyone wishes it would just shut up. But Singer was able to really step back and be the observer and realize that voice wasn’t him. We all know this because our true self would never say the things to us that the inner voice does, but making peace with that voice is much more difficult.
Singer spent a lot of time just observing how this little voice would careen out of control into crazy land. I have not been very successful of quieting that voice, though I keep at it every day. Singer recommends just allowing all the emotions and thoughts and verbal diarrhea of that voice to come up and go through. Resisting it doesn’t help. I was so enjoying the book that I didn’t mark my favorite quotes until Chapter 14, but here are the best from the second half of the book:
This journey is one of passing through exactly where you have been struggling not to go…You will be aware that each moment of each day is unfolding and you have neither control, nor crave it.
If you really want to break through, you have to be willing to just watch the fear without protecting yourself from it.
You’ll define this [letting go] as good because you are no longer willing to put any energy into building and solidifying your façade. Instead, you will actually permit the things that disturb your model to act as the dynamite to break it up and free you.
The only way to inner freedom is through the one who watches: the Self. The Self simply notices that the mind and emotions are unraveling, and that nothing is struggling to hold them together.
You will come to realize that the center from which you watch disturbance cannot get disturbed.
Any condition you create will limit your happiness. You simply aren’t going to be able to control things and keep them the way you want them.
Things are going to happen. The real question is whether you want to be happy regardless of what happens. The purpose of your life is to enjoy and learn from your experiences. You were not put on Earth to suffer. You’re not helping anybody by being miserable. Regardless of your philosophical beliefs, the fact remains that you were born and you are going to die. During the in between, you get to choose whether or not you want to enjoy the experience. Events don’t determine whether or not you’re going to be happy. They’re just events. You determine whether or not you’re going to be happy.
No matter what happens, you can choose to enjoy the experience…In the end, if you stay happy, you win.
Things are going to happen to you, and you’re going to feel the tendency to close. But you have the choice to either go with it or let it go. Your mind will tell you that it’s not reasonable to stay open when these things happen. But you have limited time left in your life, and what’s really not reasonable is to not enjoy life.
Stress only happens when you resist life’s events.
What we’re really resisting is the experience of the event passing through us.
Learn to stop resisting reality, and what used to look like stressful problems will begin to look like stepping-stones of your spiritual journey.
What actually gives life meaning is the willingness to live it. It isn’t any particular event; it’s the willingness to experience life’s events.
You can turn your eyes from the sun’s light and live in darkness for a hundred years. If you then turn them toward the light, the light is still there. It is there for you just the same as for the person who has enjoyed its brilliance for a hundred years.