The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer Book Review

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My Rating: 10/10 Find it on Amazon

My Bottom Line Thoughts

A really awesome book for anyone who is deeply committed to living a life of freedom, love, joy, and spiritual connection. 

The best thing about this book is how practical and straightforward it is, showing how our daily life is the pathway to freedom, not some esoteric practice.

There is a lot of “spiritual” bull shit out there and Michael Singer seems to be authentic. 

By reading this book and understanding the process that anyone who wants to free themselves needs to go through, you understand that Michael Singer has been through this with his deep wisdom and clarity.

He even worked in maximum-security prisons for 30 years helping others change their lives for the better.

The only negative is that he does repeat the same concepts over and over again and he makes letting go seem so easy while in reality, this is a process that takes an extreme amount of courage and practice to achieve over a lifetime.

The process he discusses includes:

  1. Increasing our awareness to see our inner problems and question who “I” am
  2. Recognizing how the energy flow works in our body and the tendency to close off
  3. The process of letting go when our inner pains get hit  
  4. How we free ourselves by letting go of our painful thorns instead of creating a life to shield ourselves from them
  5. What life is like beyond our inner walls and darkness

Summary Notes

Part 1: Awakening Consciousness

Voice Inside Your Head

  • We have a constant mental dialogue going on inside our heads whether we realize it or not
  • Most people are too close to be objective about what this mental dialogue is actually doing and how it operates
  • The voice takes both sides of the conversation and it doesn’t care which side it takes as long as it gets to keep talking
  • Basically, this voice is just trying to find a comfortable place to rest and it adjusts it’s chatter to protect itself and make us feel comfortable and in control
  • We re-create the outside world inside ourselves and then live in our minds avoiding it
  • Reality unfolding really has very little to do with you or your thoughts 
  • There is nothing more important to true growth than realizing we are not the voice in our minds or the feelings in our body and to work on transcending the part of us that is not okay and needs protection
  • Come to know the one who watches the voice, and you will come to know one of the great mysteries of creation

Your Inner Roomate

  • Our inner growth is completely dependent on the realization that the only way to find lasting peace and contentment is to stop thinking about yourself
  • The “I” that is always talking inside will never be content, it always has a problem with something
  • Ask yourself honestly, “when was the last time you really had nothing at all bothering you?”
  • Before our current problem we had an alternative problem and if we are wise we will realize there will always be a new problem until we free ourselves from the part inside of us that has so many problems
  • When a problem is disturbing us don’t ask “what should I do about it” but instead ask “what part of me is being disturbed by this?”
  • If we focus on what we should do about it we have already fallen into the trap of believing that there really is a problem outside that must be dealt with
  • Once we see clearly the disturbed part inside us, then ask who is watching this disturbed part inside of us…..this is the solution to every problem…..the fact we can see the disturbance means we are not it
  • This act of maintaining objective awareness of the inner problem is always better than losing ourself in the outer situation. This is the difference between a spiritually minded person and a worldly person. Worldly means you think the solution to your inner problems is in the outside world
  • To attain true inner freedom we must be able to objectively watch our problems instead of being lost in them. No solution can possibly exist while you’re lost in the energy of a problem
  • Deal with our own reactions first then decide how to proceed with the outside situation
  • It may seem impossible that you can let go of the part inside us that has a problem with everything but it’s entirely possible with time and commitment 
  • If we want to meet our roommate just try to sit inside ourselves in complete solitude and silence….we will meet them really fast
  • Spend time just watching what our roommate does and how messed up this roommate is. If we had to bring this person with us in real human form we would realize what a disturbed person they are.
  • It’s amazing once we realize how we take this person’s advice and believe them all the time
  • When we have sincerely tried practices of self observation over a period of time we will see that we are in trouble and realize the only problem we have had our entire life
  • If we want to free ourselves we must first become conscious enough to understand the predicament we are in (seeing our inner roommate clearly) then we must commit ourselves to the inner work of freedom

Who Are You?

  • Ramana Maharshi, a great teacher in the yogic tradition used to say that to attain inner freedom one must continuously and sincerely ask the question “who am I”?
  • Just ask “who am I? Who sees when I see? Who hears when I hear? Who knows that I am aware? Who am I?
  • When most people are asked this question they will reply with something like “Tom Greene” or “ Tom Greene who was born in New York and worked as a stock broker”
  • In reality, this question is much deeper. We are really pure consciousness or pure awareness because without awareness nothing else would exist on the movie screen
  • Our true home is this center of awareness or the seat of self. From that, we are aware that there are thoughts, emotions, and a world coming in through our senses.
  • This is what Buddhists call self, Hindus call atman, and Judeo-Christian tradition calls the soul
  • The great mystery begins when we take our seat within

The Lucid Self

  • Consciousness has the ability to focus on different things which is it’s nature
  • When a teacher says “concentrate on what I’m saying” it means you need to focus your consciousness on listening to her talk
  • The best way to learn about consciousness is through our own direct experience
  • If we step back we will see that sensory objects are always passing by in our awareness. Thoughts, emotions, and physical objects
  • Have you noticed that when you are deeply absorbed in a movie or TV show you lose your awareness of where you’re sitting or what else is going on in the room?
  • We all have underlying thought and emotion patterns: a certain amount of fear, love, and insecurity. If certain things happen one of these will flare up and then settle back down. We are busy trying to avoid these reactions.
  • What differentiates a conscious centered being from someone who is not aware is simply the focus of their awareness
  • For the deepest true meditation we must not only have the ability to focus on one object but we must also have the ability to make awareness itself the object. This is the highest state.
  • This state of being is really the most natural thing in the world and as we pull back into it the worldly matters cease to be problematic
  • We are tremendously expansive, loving, and radiant beings 
  • So, “Who am I?”…ask this question constantly and we will notice we are the answer….there is no intellectual answer. Be the answer and everything will change

Part 2: Experiencing Energy 

Infinite Energy

  • Inner energy is another great mystery of life and it’s a shame how little attention we pay to it in the west. We study energy in the outside world but are completely oblivious to our inner energy machine
  • We go about our lives thinking, acting, and feeling without an understanding of what makes these take place
  • Every movement of our body, emotion we have, or thought that occurs in our mind is an energy expenditure just like in the outside physical world
  •  For example, if we have a thought and another thought occurs we have to assert an opposing force to fight the interfering thought. This requires energy and can wear us out. 
  • The same goes with emotions. If we have an emotion that we don’t like which is interfering with our activities, we push it aside. We do this almost instinctively so that the unwanted emotion doesn’t come up and disturb us. Every one of these acts is an expenditure of energy.
  • The question to ask is where does this energy come from? Why are we completely energized sometimes and at other times drained?
  • This energy does not come from the calories our body burns from food. There is a source of energy we can draw upon from inside and it’s distinct from the outer energy source
  • An example of examining this energy source is to look at someone in their 20’s who’s girlfriend or boyfriend breaks up with them. The person gets totally depressed and doesn’t want to do anything. Food doesn’t help. Then one day the phone rings and the girlfriend wants to get back together. That person is almost instantaneously filled with energy. There was no sudden change in eating or sleeping habits.
  • We have a tremendous amount of energy inside of us and the only reason we don’t feel it all the time is because we block it
  • When we close our heart, mind, and other energy centers in our body they become dark. Yogis call these energy centers Chakras
  • Often people fluctuate between these states of higher and low energy
  • This flow of energy comes from the depth of our being and in ancient Chinese medicine it’s called chi, in yoga it’s called shakti, in the west it’s called spirit
  • This energy is unlimited and it has nothing to do with age
  • The only thing to know is that opening causes energy to come in and flow and closing blocks it out
  • If we want to feel boundless love, enthusiasm, and joy then we cannot close. We stay open by not closing. It’s really that simple but hard to do in practice.
  • The problem is we are programmed to open or close based on our past experiences. If they were negative we tend to close, if positive we tend to open
  • What we will find is that the only thing we really want from life is to feel enthusiasm, joy, and love. We get that by staying open. We can learn to keep our energy centers open.

The Secrets of the Spiritual Heart

  • The heart is one of the masterpieces of creation
  • If the heart happens to open we fall in love or feel love if it closes the love stops
  • These energy shifts and variations that take place in the heart run our lives 
  • The heart controls energy flow by opening and closing
  • It closes when it becomes blocked by stored unfinished patterns of energy from our past. Certain events trigger energy in us and if we don’t like them or we like them too much we resist or cling to them and they get stuck and block the energy flow
  • If nothing was stored inside us and we were able to process all events in life and let them pass through us we would be consistently in the present moment enjoying all the beauty that life has to offer 
  • It’s only when images, smells, situations, or sensations trigger stored energy patterns in us that we lose contact with the present moment and block the flow of love in our heart
  • The only impressions that get blocked are those that cause problems or those that contain extraordinary enjoyment
  • The key is to simply allow the experiences of life to come in and pass through us. If old stored energy is triggered and comes back up we need to let go.
  • If we don’t let go of our stored energy patterns then we will try to control the world to protect ourselves from them

Transcending the Tendency to Close

  • If something triggers our own personal fears, insecurities, or sense of self when instinctively either close down or fight 
  • When we close down we are pulling a shell around the part of us that is weak
  • The part of us that get disturbed is way out of balance and very sensitive
  • We will get to a point in our growth where we understand that if we always protect ourself we will never be free
  • Living in this way allows for very little spontaneous joy, enthusiasm, and excitement for life because we are always protecting ourself and resisting new experiences
  • No matter how much pain the exposure creates we have to be willing to let it go if we want to be free
  • Spiritual growth starts when someone or something hits your stuff inside. You will feel the energy change, some fear, some tension. This is your cue that it’s time to grow and to relax and release.
  • The energy that starts bubbling up inside is very strong and we need to let go and fall behind this energy when it comes up. Stop, relax, and let go.
  • The disturbed energy will start to pull on our consciousness and we have to use our will to not fall into it. If we do this we will notice the difference between consciousness and the object of consciousness
  • A wise person remains centered enough to let go every time the energy shifts into a defensive fearful mode
  • Our opportunity to grow is endless and occurs each and every day. The power of the energy is very strong and it takes a willingness to go through some intense energy pulls.
  • There’s nothing wrong with being peaceful and centered as long as we are releasing the energy and not suppressing it so it keeps resurfacing

Part 3: Freeing Yourself

Let go now or fall

  • As we grow spirituality we will realize that our attempts to protect ourself actually create more problems
  • We have to decide not to fight with life and realize that life is not under our control
  • It’s hard to understand how we decided that avoiding our inner issues is an intelligent thing to do but everyone does it
  • The fear and other issues that hold us down occasionally rear their heads. When this happens we need to let them go. Permit the pain to come up into our heart and pass through
  • When our stuff gets hit it’s critical to let go right away because it is harder later
  • 1. We must be aware that something is coming up that needs to be released
  • 2. We must then notice who is witnessing the stuff coming up (the seat of self)
  • 3. If we don’t let go and get lost in the feelings and thoughts a sequence of events will unfold so quickly that we lose awareness
  • Consciousness is always drawn to the most distracting object
  • The cycle is the time it takes from the moment you leave your seat of clarity until you come back
  • When a blockage gets hit we either go up or down. If we let go we go up and if we push it away or fall into it we go down into a vicious cycle where we then disperse this energy on other people and surround ourself with people who have similar energies
  • We do not have to leave the seat of self to deal with our darkness; it will naturally purify itself if we let it. Getting involved in the darkness does not dispel it, but feeds it. 

Removing Your Inner Thorn

  • We all have inner thorns and we have 2 ways of dealing with them
    • 1. Decide that because it’s so disturbing when things touch the thorn we need to make sure nothing touches it
    • 2. Decide that since it’s so disturbing when things touch it we need to take it out
  • This is a core-level decision that will impact the rest of our lives
  • If we choose #1 we build our whole life around the thorn and create shelters and tools so that nothing touches it and it runs our life
  • If we choose #2 it will be challenging to let it go but if we commit to it the rest of our life can be abundantly joyful and filled with creativity, love, and enthusiasm and total freedom
  • The more we can let go and sit in the seat of self the more you will begin to feel an energy you have never experienced before
  • We don’t have to try to get rid of our loneliness or fear or shame we just choose to not get involved with it, to recognize it, feel it, and let it go

Stealing Freedom for Your Soul

  • The prerequisite to true freedom is to decide we do not want to suffer anymore
  • Everyday we bear this burden of constant mental chatter, fear, tension, criticism, ect
  • People don’t understand how much they are suffering because they have never experienced what it is like not to suffer
  • Look at how often you think about thoughts related to “I” “me” “mine” 
  • Look at how often you think about how you’re doing, whether you like things or not, and how to rearrange the world to please yourself
  • We need to realize that our psyche is not ok but it doesn’t have to be this way
  • Most people try to fix their internal problems by fixing or changing something on the outside but if you are wise you won’t play this game
  • We need to learn to watch the mind and body when they start to act up and let them be
  • The heart and body reacts before the mind so it’s critical to notice when the energy in our body shifts and relax/release right away without getting into the endless thoughts

Pain, the Price of Freedom

  • One of the essential requirements for true spiritual growth and deep personal transformation is coming to peace with pain
  • No expansion or evolution can take place without change, uncertainty, and uncomfortability
  • Becoming familiar with the pain associated with inner disturbance is critical for growth
  • When we face our disturbances we will realize that there is a layer of pain seated deep in the core of our heart
  • This pain is so uncomfortable, challenging, and destructive to the individual self that we spend our entire life avoiding it
  • Real growth takes place when we finally decide to deal with the pain
  • We create our life and personality around avoiding our pain so that nothing touches it
  • Once again there are two choices, we fix the outside world to avoid touching our pain or we work on removing our pain 
  • We must look inside and determine that from now on pain is not a problem and it is a natural changing occurrence in the universe 
  • Pain is the price of freedom and the moment we are not afraid of pain we will be able to face all of life without fear

Part 4: Going Beyond

Taking down the walls

  • We all have “walls” surrounding ourselves made up of our thoughts, emotions, and beliefs that prevent us from feeling true freedom
  • We put up walls based on our own personal fears and issues
  • We need to focus on the walls of our own making that are blocking the flow of light and energy
  • We can break down these walls by letting everyday life take them down we just need to stop participating in supporting, maintaining, and defending our fortress
  • Imagine the walls crumbling down and the effortless release of consciousness expanding into the brilliance of what is and always was
  • Give this a name-enlightenment

Far, Far Beyond

  • If we are willing to have the courage to go beyond our comfort zone when the fears or uncomfortability hits we can go far far beyond and stay there
  • When we learn to relax and release instantly like a great athlete when our edges and walls get hit we can learn to be free in all circumstances
  • This ability to go far beyond our walls is where all great beings live
  • Nothing can ever bother you but your edges and once you learn how to deal with them you are free in all situations
  • Our edges and walls point the way to our freedom in a place far beyond and once we relax and lean into them, when we least expect it, we will fall through into the infinite

Part 5: Living Life

The Path of Unconditional Happiness

  • The highest spiritual path is life itself
  • If we know how to live daily life it all becomes a liberating experience
  • We really only have one choice in life: do we want to be happy or not happy….it’s as simple and clear as that
  • Once we decide that we want to be happy and free then our path through life become totally clear
  • Once we have passed through trial by fire and we are convinced that we will let go no matter what the veils of the human mind and heart will fall away
  • We will stand face to face with what is beyond us, God, and open up to this eternal infinite
  • This is where words like joy, ecstasy, bliss, liberation, and nirvana come in

Spiritual Path of Nonresistance

  • We have a tendency towards stress and resistance
  • We must examine why we are so resistant to just letting life be
  • We will see that it’s you, the self, that has this willpower
  • We actually assert our will in opposition to the flow of life….if something happens we don’t like we resist it
  • What we are resisting has already taken place so what good is it to resist it? Reality has already occurred
  • We need to open up to life and the changing energy flow and commit to not resisting anymore
  • This is a path of acceptance, surrender, and release
  • They key is to relax and release but it’s not easy and we will fall sometimes
  • Just keep working on it….it’s the work of a lifetime to become that open

Contemplating Death

  • Learn to live your life as though you were on the verge of death because you are
  • Appreciate and relish every experience in life and release into this beautiful opportunity to be alive because death can take it away from us tomorrow

The Secret of the Middle Way

  • The middle way in buddhism or the Tao in daoism is a path of natural energy flow 
  • If we choose to center and not take place in the extremes we will know the Tao
  • We can watch the energies tries to suck us into the extremes and hold our ground in the middle 
  • As you center by not participating in the swings the energies will naturally find their balance
  • The experience of being present in each moment will be your natural state
  • For beings in the Tao events take place and last as long as they are taking place and then pass by
  • Constantly look to see if we are living in the natural powerful balance of energy or if we are lost in the extremes

The Loving Eyes of God

  • How can anyone really know anything about God but experience
  • We have so many teachings and concepts but they have all been touched by people and the cultures they live in
  • Deep within us there is a direct connection to the divine. This is the part of our being that is beyond the personal self and we can consciously choose to identify and be in union with this part or God
  • We can know the nature of God through our own experience with this direct source
  • When great being fall into this presence they describe it as all being one
  • This is how we know God truly from our own direct experience of falling into this infinite beauty that shines through us
  • When we are in this presence we feel beauty and love for all creatures, plants, humans, and animals

Hear Michael Singer’s Podcast Episode About the Journey of Freeing Yourself

If you don’t want to read the book this is an excellent podcast episode to hear Michael Singer talk about the process he discusses in the book:

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Josh is a writer and entrepreneur who runs a small digital content publishing business. His main interests are in topics related to developing personal and financial freedom. When not working he enjoys reading, yoga, surfing, being outdoors, meditating, exploring, and hanging with friends.