Michael Singer has written two amazing books that have had a big impact on my life.
The first was Untethered Soul. An amazing book that really opened my eyes to how our thoughts, fears and past experiences really control our daily lives. How that voice in our head is not something we need to listen to and give power to.
Here is a great video where the author explains his approach.
For me, the book had deep meaning and purpose. It showed me that alot of my own insecurities and anxieties were merely thought patterns that I developed years ago from childhood. And that those fears were merely just manifested in thoughts inside my brain. In so many situations when my anxieties would begin to rise, I could see how my thoughts were physically manifesting in my body (stress), actions and words. And if I let go of these thoughts and became “untethered” to them, I could literally be set free. It worked.
Now, when I find myself sensing a reaction is coming to a particular situation, I realize it’s just my brain trying to protect me or tell me a particular narrative like “Oh, this person is going to really hurt you so you better get ready to fight back…”. And so now I let that thought simply pass through me and move it along while remaining in a more neutral, mindful state. Understanding your emotional triggers and seeing them as merely your fears talking to you can be an incredibly liberating practice.
Here are a few of my favorite quotes from Untethered Soul:
“Only you can take inner freedom away from yourself, or give it to yourself. Nobody else can.”
“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?”
“If you want to be happy, you have to let go of the part of you that wants to create melodrama. This is the part that thinks there’s a reason not to be happy. You have to transcend the personal, and as you do, you will naturally awaken to the higher aspects of your being. In the end, enjoying life’s experiences is the only rational thing to do. You’re sitting on a planet spinning around in the middle of absolutely nowhere. Go ahead, take a look at reality. You’re floating in empty space in a universe that goes on forever. If you have to be here, at least be happy and enjoy the experience. You’re going to die anyway. Things are going to happen anyway. Why shouldn’t you be happy? You gain nothing by being bothered by life’s events. It doesn’t change the world; you just suffer. There’s always going to be something that can bother you, if you let it.”
“Eventually you will see that the real cause of problem is not life itself. It’s the commotion the mind makes about life that really causes the problems.”
“The truth is that most of life will unfold in accordance with forces far outside your control, regardless of what your mind says about it.”
“There is no reason to constantly attempt to figure everything out.”
“People tend to burden themselves with so many choices. But, in the end, you can throw it all away and just make one basic, underlying decision: Do you want to be happy, or do you not want to be happy? It’s really that simple. Once you make that choice, your path through life becomes totally clear.”
“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. Once you do that, you’ll be clear enough to deal with what’s left.”
“Imagine if you used relationships to get to know other people, rather than to satisfy what is blocked inside of you. If you’re not trying to make people fit into your preconceived notions of what you like and dislike, you will find that relationships are not really that difficult. If you’re not so busy judging and resisting people based upon what is blocked inside of you, you will find that they are much easier to get along with—and so are you. Letting go of yourself is the simplest way to get closer to others.”
“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.”
“How would you feel if someone outside really started talking to you the way your inner voice does? How would you relate to a person who opened their mouth to say everything your mental voice says? After a very short period of time, you would tell them to leave and never come back. But when your inner friend continuously speaks up, you don’t ever tell it to leave. No matter how much trouble it causes, you listen.”
“To attain true inner freedom, you must be able to objectively watch your problems instead of being lost in them… Once you’ve made the commitment to free yourself of the scared person inside, you will notice that there is a clear decision point at which your growth takes place.”
Michael Singer recently released his follow-up to Untethered Soul called The Surrender Experiment. Another gem. Amazing book.
In this book, the author shares his life story and the narrative throughout all of his experiences is that he awakens to the concept that to truly live in a state of eternal happiness and joy, you need to accept that life/the Universe/God/Buddha has a grand plan for you. He suggests that rather than try and control your circumstances, you should simply surrender to them and let life unfold in front of you.
He describes his incredible personal journey from a man meditating in the woods for seemingly countless hours to building a hugely successful technology company and then the collapse of that business. And how along the way, events just materialized and he accepted them as part of a grander plan for his particular journey.
Some great quotes from this book I loved include:
“Every day, we give precedence to our mind’s thoughts over the reality unfolding before us. We regularly say things like, “It better not rain today because I’m going camping” or “I better get that raise because I really need the money.” Notice that these bold claims about what should and shouldn’t be happening are not based on scientific evidence; they’re based solely on personal preferences made up in our minds. Without realizing it, we do this with everything in our lives—it’s as though we actually believe that the world around us is supposed to manifest in accordance to our own likes and dislikes. If it doesn’t, surely something is very wrong. This is an extremely difficult way to live, and it is the reason we feel that we are always struggling with life.”
“Since most of us only feel good when things are going our way, we are constantly attempting to control everything in our lives.”
“There must be another, more sane way to approach life. For example, what would happen if we respected the flow of life and used our free will to participate in what’s unfolding, instead of fighting it? What would be the quality of the life that unfolds? Would it just be random events with no order or meaning, or would the same perfection of order and meaning that manifests in the rest of the universe manifest in the everyday life around us?”
“When my mental voice had something to say, I now had a choice—pay attention to the voice or keep focusing on the inner flow of energy. I eventually realized that if I didn’t want to listen to the mental chatter, all I had to do was slightly increase my concentration on the energy flow to my brow. The thoughts would then pass right by without disturbing me. Letting the thoughts go became a game to me. All of life was a lighter experience than before.”
“I had to learn to surrender more, instead of struggling so much. I had already determined to surrender to life’s flow, even if I couldn’t understand where it was taking me.”
“My formula for success was very simple: Do whatever is put in front of you with all your heart and soul without regard for personal results. Do the work as though it were given to you by the universe itself—because it was.”
“At some point there’s no more struggle, just the deep peace that comes from surrendering to a perfection that is beyond your comprehension. Eventually, even the mind stops resisting, and the heart loses the tendency to close. The joy, excitement, and freedom are simply too beautiful to give up. Once you are ready to let go of yourself, life becomes your friend, your teacher, your secret lover. When life’s way becomes your way, all the noise stops, and there is a great peace.”
Both these books really helped me arrive at my present state of consciousness. By realizing I didn’t have to listen to my thoughts and that I can control them as well, and then by understanding that to surrender to life’s journey as it unfolds can be a tremendously liberating way to exist.
Some might suggest that to surrender is to be passive and non-engaged. It’s actually the opposite. It provides you with the clarity to fully experience each moment that unfolds in front of you without judgment or fear. To accept it, experience it and then let it pass on.
Very similar thoughts and advice I also took away from reading Buddha’s Brain, I Can See Clearly Now and my Mindfulness and Buddhism practices. Live in the moment. Don’t force things. Be compassionate always. Be grateful. Do no harm. Be kind do yourself and others.
Collectively the message is also that our ego is the thing that typically causes our sufferings. But there are many tools and tactics to gain control of our thoughts, to release them and to truly live in a much more meaningful, present way.
Michael Singer helped me understand that.