As I mentioned in my last post “What Made You Smile Today?” I’ve been reading a book called The Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer. It’s about consciousness and how by being aware in every moment and by being open to things, you can appreciate and enjoy life’s experiences.
There is a lot of valuable information and useful tools in this book. I won’t go into all of them, but the points below are the things that stood out for me.
Consciousness is pure awareness. If you go deep within your awareness, you will realise that you live at the centre of consciousness. A true spiritual being lives there. From here you watch and are aware of the events, thoughts and emotions that pass before you.
Every movement of your body, every emotion that you have and every thought that passes your mind is an expenditure of energy. Where does this energy come from and why is it there sometimes and at other times you feel completely drained?
You have a huge amount of energy inside you and can draw on it at any time. It can gush up spontaneously inside you and restore, replenish and recharge you. The only reason why you don’t feel it all the time is because you block it, by closing your heart and your mind and draw yourself into a restrictive place inside, that closes you off from all energy. This is what it means to be blocked.
The more you learn to stay open, the more the energy can flow into you. When your heart starts to close, just say to yourself “No, I’m not going to close. I’m going to relax. I’m going to let the situation take place and be there with it. Honour and respect the situation and deal with it with openness.”
Michael Singer mentions Samskaras. In the yogic tradition, a samskara is a blockage, an impression from the past, an unfinished energy pattern. Perception is meant to take things in, allow you to experience them and then let them pass through you so that you’re fully present in the next moment. That doesn’t happen inside most of us.
Say you’re driving down the street, you see cars, trees, people etc and everything passes through you, until something doesn’t make it through. For example you see a car that looks exactly like your girlfriend’s car. It looked like there were two people hugging in the front seat and it sure looked like your girlfriend’s car. But it was just a car like every other car, wasn’t it? Not for you.
On a mental level the impression didn’t get through. Because you resisted the impression it got stuck. Your mind is then focused on it and you can’t stop thinking about it. When you’re unable to allow life’s events to pass through, they stay inside and become a problem. Energy tries to release through the mind and then through the heart and if we resist this, the energy gets backed up and forced into deep storage in the heart, which can be held for a long time. This restricts the flow of energy.
You should simply allow the experiences of life to come in and pass through your body. If old samskaras come up, let go of them now. Instead of fighting it, just open, relax the heart, forgive, laugh or whatever you want. Just don’t close.
TENDENCY TO CLOSE
Nowadays we have a tendency to close, to defend and protect ourselves. You can decide not to do that anymore. Spiritual growth takes place when you start to feel your energy change. Any time you feel a change in the energy flow (e.g. if you feel your heart tightening) you stop. Don’t get involved in the energy. Your energies inside have power. They draw your awareness into them. You do not have to go there. Don’t fight the change in energy or try to change it and don’t judge it.
Relax behind it and release. Just let it go. If you stay seated at the center of your consciousness, you will see the difference between the consciousness and the object of consciousness (e.g. an upsetting situation, an emotion). The object comes and goes and the consciousness watches it come and go.
This following practice is one that I really like and have been trying to put into practice myself. The method is to watch the psyche which will keep you from getting lost in it. Every time you get into your car, or get on your bike, just stop. Take a moment to remember that you’re spinning on a planet in the middle of empty space.
Let go of what’s going on right then and remind yourself that you’re not going to get involved in the mind’s melodrama. Just notice that you notice. Check what’s going on in your heart, mind, shoulders, etc. Set up trigger points in everyday life to help you remember who you are and what’s going on inside.
Any time you’re having trouble with something, think of death. Imagine you were told that you had a week/month to live. How would that change things? Think honestly about what you would do with your last week. Then ask “if that’s what I would do, then what are you doing with the rest of the time – wasting it, throwing it away”? This is what death asks you.
You must be willing to look at what it would be like if death was staring you in the face. Let this knowledge help you live every moment of your life fully because every moment matters. Do the things you really love doing. Think: you’ve walked outside thousands of times but have you really appreciated it?
I’m also reading a book called The Way of Transition by William Bridges. He tells us in the first chapter how his wife died of cancer. He said that about half way through her treatment when they knew that she wasn’t going to improve, she sent out letters to friends and family. One of the things she wrote in those letters was the fact that she was sad that she would never be able to do the things she loved doing anymore.
Death gives meaning to your life. You get in the car, drive from here to there and you don’t see anything. You’re a month ahead of yourself. You’re not living life, you’re living your mind. Death helps you get your life back by making you pay attention to the moment.
I really liked this book and find the tools and practices in it very useful. I take a quick look at it every day since I finished reading it and remind myself about some of the things it says in there.
I’ve been taking hatha yoga classes for nearly five years now, at YogaYoga, Amaliastraat, Amsterdam. We have an excellent teacher, Leo Peppas, and I’ve learned a lot from him. One of the things that yoga teaches you is to be aware of your body, be present in every moment and in every posture. This helps me stay centered and grounded. This, and using breathing techniques. For me, both the yoga and the principles in this book relate to each other.
One thing I find hard to overcome though, when using these techniques, is fear. I have fears like “What happens if I can’t find an enjoyable job? Will I have enough money to live on.” I try to be open and let the fears go but they keep coming back.
With the help of a friend, I’ve worked out a plan to help diminish those fears a little. By reviewing my current situation and setting a personal vision, I have been able to come up with actions to help me achieve this vision. This helps.
I should also remember that I’m “spinning on a planet in the middle of empty space” and realise that in the bigger scheme of things, these fears don’t really matter. I found this book very enlightening and I think it’s definitely worth the read.
Michael A. Singer received a master’s degree in economics in 1971. During his doctoral work he had a deep inner awakening and went into seclusion to focus on yoga and meditation. In 1975 he founded a yoga and meditation centre. He has also written two books on the integration of Eastern and Western philosophy: The Search For Truth and Three Essays On Universal Law – Karma, Will and Love.