Book Review: The Untethered Soul
This book was unlike anything that I’ve read previously and it made me really reflect on my thoughts and my life. The author, Michael A. Singer, takes you on a thought provoking journey that is both enlightening and mesmerizing. It’s received raving reviews from Oprah, Psychology today, Huffington Post and many more and takes you on an inward journey that has the capacity to transform your relationship with yourself and the world around you.
In the beginning of the novel Michael A. Singer helps you understand that you are not your thoughts but instead are the observer of your thoughts. He explains how if you can learn to recognise this, rather than getting caught up in absolutely every thought, you will be taking the first step to untying yourself from your ego.
Imagine this, going into a movie theatre and watching a movie but it feeling more real than normal, as if you were actually experiencing it in real life. You can not only see and hear what’s happening but you can also smell everything that’s going on as well. For example, maybe in this movie the mum has baked cookies and the main character has just walked through the door after school. If you could actually smell the cookies in the movie it would feel more real right? Now, what if you could touch everything in the movie including the people and things. That would be one intense movie experience. Lastly, what if you could feel all of the emotions for the characters in the movie. How real would the movie feel if all of your senses were firing? I would say that it would feel pretty darn real, almost as if you weren’t just watching a movie but instead that you were actually in it. Michael A. Singer explains how this is exactly what is happening in our everyday life. All of our senses are involved all of the time so no wonder we’re getting so caught up in everything that is happening. It’s like we’re in our own life movie and because we have all of our senses going off all of the time we get very caught up in us, how we feel, our problems and our thoughts.
One of the main concepts in the novel is that we are not our thoughts. They may be in our minds and we may give them energy but that doesn’t mean that every thought defines the person that we are. Instead the concept that Michael A. Singer makes a point of is that we are the consciousness that observes the thoughts. The key is to learn to take a step back, not get caught up in everything including the senses and learn to observe what is happening rather than letting it take control.
Michael A. Singer has a great way of making this point. He explains, “In case you haven’t noticed, you have mental dialogue going on inside your head that never stops. It just keeps going and going. And if right now you are hearing, “I don’t know what you are talking about!” – that is the voice we are talking about! You have to step way back and watch it converse. While you are driving you hear internal conversations like: “Wasn’t I supposed to call Fred? I should have. Oh my God, I can’t believe I forgot! He is going to be so mad. He may never talk to me again. Maybe I should stop and call him right now. No, I don’t want to stop the car right now…”
“Notice that the voice takes both sides of the conversation. It doesn’t care which side it takes, just as long as it gets to keep on talking. If you spend some time observing this mental voice, the first thing you will notice is that it never shuts up. When left to its own, it just keeps on talking.”
How true is that? Later in the novel Mr. Singer asks you to externalise your thoughts and turn them into a roommate, one that you have to spend a whole day with. This roommate has something to say about everything and everyone and no matter what you hear their opinion. How long would it take before they start to drive you crazy? Now imagine that you have to live with them 24/7 for the rest of your life. Welcome to your everyday reality.
This voice in your head creates opinions and filters on everything and everyone that you see. Your perceptions and opinions are often skewed thanks to the personal roommate in your head.
Another important point that Michael A. Singer makes is the importance of distancing yourself from the voice that you have rather than trying to differentiate what it’s saying.
He explains, “Stop feeling that one thing it says is you and the other thing it says is not you. If you’re hearing it talk, it’s obviously not you! You are the one who hears the voice, noticing that it’s talking. You are the one in the background observing all of this. Yes, but you want to think of yourself as the part that says all these nice things, that is good to other people… But that is still the voice talking. You may like what it says, but it’s not you. The real you is observing all of this. “Yeah,” your mind says, “but that is kind of scary. I know I am a good person who cares about others, I don’t want to let that part go, it’s the best of me.” This is not you! This is the voice in your head, your ego, trying to cling on to the concept of mind. ‘I am a good person’ doesn’t define who you are, it’s just a thought. A thought doesn’t define you. The real you is the one hearing the thought.”
“There is nothing more important to true growth than realising that you are not the voice in your mind – you are the one who hears it!”
To clarify, there are two parts to you. The part that is aware of everything and has nothing to do with the mind, and the continuous talking part of the mind. By learning to be the awareness part, your mind will continue to make comments and talk but it’s up to you to become aware of this and just observe the thoughts rather than getting caught up in them and giving them energy. You simply have to observe the thought and then let it pass.
I’ve barely touched on the depth of this book in this review but I wanted to share these points because they really resonated with me and made me take a step back and reassess my thoughts.
If you are intrigued about learning more I do highly recommend this book. I’m actually going to read it for a second time.
By: Cortnie Dawn