Last year I read ‘The Untethered Soul’, and only now have I gotten round to sharing some thoughts and takeaways.
First, the catalyst for reading such a book? For sure, it was a little left field, noticeably different to my normal book choices. But having read a few of the reviews, alongside the lessons that I’m putting into practice through daily meditation. I thought it was worth a shot.
By way of summary: many of us are attached to our ego and our mind. The untethered soul on the other hand is a person who’s taken the journey inward — enabling them to be free from the thoughts and emotions which when left unattended can cause quite a lot of turmoil.
Lesson 1: The voice in your head
There is nothing more important to true growth than realising that you are not the voice of the mind – you are the one who hears it
You can hear your mind chatting away, you are the observer of the voice. We should step back from the voice in our head in order to view it objectively. When you do this you notice how insignificant the voice is.
Most of life will unfold in accordance with forces far outside your control regardless of what your mind says about it.
Think about it — have you ever stressed about a meeting? Or perhaps a job interview? Or maybe a first date? Beforehand your mind goes into overdrive catastrophising about all the potential ways it could go wrong. Then fast forward to the actual meeting, and it all goes fine. All that negativity that your inner voice created had no effect on the real world. The only thing it has impacted is your wellbeing.
I actually talk about this in more detail in my most recent book — ‘10 Minute Guide to Mental Fitness‘, I work through a number of exercises that helps reduce catastrophising.
This demonstrates the importance of taking a step back and remembering that you are simply the person watching your mind.
We’re reminded that “the same voice that has been a source of worry, distraction and general neurosis can become the launching ground for true spiritual awakening”.
Lesson 2: Contemplating death
It is truly a great cosmic paradox that one of the best teachers in all of life turns out to be death
Death is the great equaliser; it doesn’t matter if you are rich or poor, smart or dumb, death is inescapable.
The idea of death can be a powerful motivator and healer.
Imagine a person upset with their partner because they’re afflicted with jealousy. Even that person’s strong feelings of pain and jealousy would instantly fall away if they found out that somehow death would soon be knocking at their door.
Death forces you to sober up, and to focus on what is truly important.
Imagine if you knew you were going to die within a week or a month, how would that change things? How would your priorities change? How would your thoughts change?
By practicing this exercise of reflecting on death, you can tune your life so that you spend your time on things that you actually value the most.
There’s a story of a great yogi who lived his life with the constant feeling that there was a sword suspended above his head and the sword was held in place by a spiders web. This story provides a great visual demonstration of how truly delicate our lives are, so do not fear death — for it is death which makes life have its meaning.
Learn to use death as a tool to make healthier decisions, to make better use of your time and to make stronger relationships in your life.
Lesson 3: Removing your inner thorn
Imagine you have a thorn stuck in your arm, and whenever this thorn is moved or touched it causes you a lot of pain. This is obviously an issue with two ways to resolve the problem:
- You do everything you possibly can to prevent anything or anyone from touching the thorn
- You bite the bullet and remove the thorn
The thorn in your arm is analogous to the challenges and insecurities that we face during our lives.
Let’s take loneliness as an example: someone who suffers from loneliness might put loads of energy into building a wall to protect that insecurity from being touched because it causes pain. They might avoid going to places like restaurants or the cinema because they’re likely to see couples enjoying each other’s company. Which would trigger the painful emotion of loneliness. This is the equivalent of choosing option one to solve the problem.
The better solution, however, is option two. Where you remove the thorn from your arm. Look deep within yourself, to the core of your being, and decide that you don’t want the weakest part of you running your life.
When you take this courageous step and journey into yourself, you can remove the thorn.
For example you may come to terms with the fact that you don’t need other people to stop you from feeling lonely but you want to hang out with other people because you’re genuinely interested in others and enjoy peoples company.
This once again shows that by becoming more conscious of our mind we can free ourselves from our internal suffering, which creates room for us to grow as a person and live a more fulfilled life.