Untethered Soul, Chapter 4: Get Me Lucid!

“What differentiates a conscious, centered being from a person who is not so conscious is simply the focus of their awareness. It’s not a difference in the consciousness itself.… Just as all light from the sun is the same, all awareness is the same.”

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Are you lucid?

Now that you know you are aware, based on the last four posts we’ve shared covering the topics in The Untethered Soul, have you found yourself being more aware that you are aware? Chapter 4 is called The Lucid Self and wraps up Part 1 for us. So let’s see what Singer has to say about all this awareness stuff before we launch into the very exciting Part 2, Experiencing Energy.

A lucid dream, as you probably know, is a dream in which often you are flying but especially in which you know that you are dreaming while having the dream. Michael Singer says that similarly if you are aware that you are Awareness, then you are lucid.

Throughout the day you might not be aware that you are Awareness. But when you’re seated in the self you’re lucid, aware that the thoughts, feelings, judgments, labels, emotions that you are experiencing are not you but that they are the dream in which you are immersed. Or, if it resonates more with you, they are the movie in which you are immersed.

Singer uses the analogy of TV to make clear that we can allow our awareness, or our consciousness, to wander. When you’re watching TV, you often don’t focus at all on what else is going on in the room, or the time that his passing. In the same way, we can get wrapped up in what Singer calls our “inner show.”

Let me get a little personal to make this more relevant. I don’t just want to write chapter summaries here. I want to be real and I want you to take something from this for your OWN lives. In thinking about all this in relation to my own life and trying to think of a way to make it functional for you readers, I ended up noticing that there are three levels of lucidity for me. (Nothing is really so easily categorized, but for the sake of ease let’s say three levels.)

Level 1: I Love Lucid!

This strongest level of lucidity happens for me during times of meditation and prayer when I can remove all distraction and “go inside” to be in the witness seat. With practice, I am more and more able to remain there fairly steadfastly and commune with whoever/whatever I want to from that place. When I began the exercise of silent mediation a few years ago it was MUCH harder to quiet down and let the monkey brain relax. Now, I can get myself into that seat of witness with more ease and once there, I let the prayer begin…if that is what needs to happen. I rarely start with prayer anymore (unless I am praying with someone in person) because it is much better for me to get into the seat of Self and pray from that spot instead of just sitting down and praying from a more ego-run place.

Level 2: Lucid or Lose It!

My Level 2 is the point where I have to work out my awareness muscles. It is where I am inundated by distractions of my external movie and internal reactions and so my intention and effort to remain aware of my awareness is in full effect. This would be for example while I am driving my car in busy traffic, while at the grocery store, hiking at the busy and bustling Hollyridge Trail, or surrounded by energies at a family gathering. Basically, anywhere that is not my quiet meditation spot requires me to flex my awareness muscle!

The great thing though it that I fully believe that the more I flex, the easier it will become. It is very liberating to be among people and egos and be in the seat of witness, from which I can interact with them with less attachment, emotion, and defensiveness. Things get to me less, traffic is okay because all things unfold as they are meant to, people are more lovable because they are on a journey just as I am, etc. You get the idea. Stuff is just better.

Level 3: Luciwhat?

This Level is where I am not at all lucid. Not even thinking about it. Forgot all about my Self. Totally engrossed in my movie and emotions. What are we even talking about?

This inattention happens most frequently and intensely when I’m at work. Work is busy, busy, busy; I have anxieties that get triggered easily at work; I am almost constantly in someone else’s presence so there is little gratuitous alone time. In a social situation I can step aside and get reentered before entering back into the pool of egos. At work, not so easy.

No guilt though. This level just gives me a challenge, helps me set a goal. What would it be like, after all, to be more Self and less Ego at work?? It probably would be pretty amazing. I probably wouldn’t feel as stressed or nervous.

So those are my levels. What about you? Where is your awareness throughout the day? Is it in your movie, in your emotions? do you remember at different points in your coming and going that you are much, much more than all of that external and internal gunk?

“You will find that you are tremendously expansive.… You realize that your consciousness only appears to be small and limited because you are focusing on small and limited objects. ” Pg. 37

I’m setting a goal. I’m going to try recalling my true identity during my work days. That’s at least 40 hours a week in which I have a chance to be more of who I want to be! To be more free! To be more authentic! What a great opportunity.

Will you join me? If you have already grasped your true identity through reading the previous Untethered posts, now think about when and where you can bring that awareness of awareness into your daily life. I’ll meet you there!

With Love,

~~~S Wave~~~

Untethered Soul, Chapter 3: Take the Identity Challenge!

Welcome back to our series of The Untethered Soul! I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving if it is a holiday you celebrate. I’m excited to now return to our regularly scheduled programing, especially for Chapter 3 of Michael A. Singer’s fabulous, best-selling book.

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So far we’ve looked at the intro and the first two chapters with the intent on contemplating our inner voice and what it means when wen we say, “Me.” I hope it has been food for thought! As for me, even though this is the second time reading this book I am finding the topics and applications just as fascinating and freeing as the first time around. Okay, and sometimes pretty frustrating, too. How in the world do we remain detached fro all of that prattling taking place inside all the time?? Well, more on that in the coming weeks.

Chapter 3, called “Who Are You?” continues urging us to understand that we are NOT the inner voice, but rather that we are awareness, or a witness. What I like the most about this chapter are the exercises Singer provides to help us experience our identity conundrum. They’re a mental blast! So, instead of outlining or summarizing this chapter, let me just use the author’s own words and invite you take the IDENTITY CHALLENGE!  Here we go…

Challenge #1: Whoooo are Youuuuu?

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Make believe that you and I are having a conversation. Typically, in Western cultures, when someone comes up to you and asks, “Excuse me, who are you?” you don’t admonish them for asking such a deep questions. You tell them your name, for example, Sally Smith. But I’m going to challenge this response by taking out a piece of paper and writing the letters S-a-l-l-y S-m-i-t-h, and then showing it to you. Is that who you are — a collection of letters? Is that who sees when you see? Obviously not, so you say,

“Okay, … It’s a label. Really, I’m Frank Smith’s wife.”

No way, that’s not even politically correct nowadays. …Are you saying you didn’t exist before you met Frank, and you would cease to exist if he died or you got remarried? Frank Smith’s wife can’t be who you are. Again, that’s just another label, the result of another situation or event you participated in. But then, who are you? This time you respond,

“Okay, … My label is Sally Smith. I was born in 1965 in New York. I lived in Queens with my parents, Harry and Mary Jones, until I was five years old. Then we moved to New Jersey… I got all A’s in school, … I went to Rutgers College where I met and married Frank Smith. That is who I am.”

Wait a minute, that’s a fascinating story, but I didn’t ask you what has happened to you since you were born. I asked you, “Who are you?” You’ve just described all these experiences, but who had these experiences? Wouldn’t you still be in there, aware of your existence, even if you had gone to a different college?

… So you ponder this more seriously and you say,

“Okay, I am the body that is occupying this space I am five foot six and I weigh 135 pounds, and here I am.”

When you were Dorothy in the fifth grade play you weren’t five foot six, you were four foot six. So which are you? … Weren’t you in there when you were Dorothy? … When you were ten years old, didn’t you look in the mirror and see a ten-year-old body? Wasn’t that the same you that now sees an adult body? What you looked at has changed; but what about you, the one who is looking? Isn’t there a continuity of being?

Wasn’t it the same being that looked in the mirror throughout the years?

pp. 23-15

Challenge #2: Dream on!

Susan Seddon

Susan Seddon

Here’s another question: When you go to sleep every night, do you dream? Who dreams? What does it mean to dream? You answer,

“Well, it’s like a motion picture plays in my mind and I watch it.”

Who watches it?

“I do!”

The same you who looks in the mirror? Does the same you who is reading these words also look in the mirror and watch the dreams? When you awake, you know you saw the dream. There is a continuity of conscious awareness of being.

p. 25

Challenge #3: The Dog and the Rattlesnake

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…imagine that you’re watching a dog play outdoors. Suddenly you hear a noise right behind you –a hiss, like a rattlesnake! Would you still be looking at the dog with the same intensity of focus? Of course not! You’d be feeling tremendous fear inside. Though the dog would still be playing in front of you, you’d be completely preoccupied with the experience of fear. All of your attention can very quickly become absorbed in your emotions. But who feels the fear? Isn’t it the same you who was watching the dog? …You can become so absorbed in beautiful inner feelings, or frightening inner fears, that it’s hard to focus on outer objects. In essence, inside and outside objects compete for your attention. You are in there having both inner and outer experiences –but who are you?

To explore this more deeply, answer another question: Don’t you have times when you’re not having emotional experiences and, instead, you just feel quiet inside? You’re still in there, but you’re just aware of peaceful quiet. Eventually, you will begin to realize that the outside world and the flow of inner emotions come and go. But you, the one who experiences these things, remain consciously aware of whatever passes before you.

pp. 25-26

Challenge #4: I Think, Therefore I am?? 

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Thoughts can stop, and they can also get extremely noisy. Sometimes you have many more thoughts than other times. You may even tell someone, “My mind is driving me crazy. Ever since he said those things to me, I can’t even sleep. My mind just won’t shut up.”

Whose mind? Who is noticing these thoughts? Isn’t it you? Don’t you hear your thoughts inside? Aren’t you aware of their existence? In fact, can’t you get rid of them? If you start to have a thought you don’t like, can’t you try to make it go away? People struggle with thoughts all the time. Who is it that is aware of the thoughts, and who is it that struggles with them? … You are not your thoughts. You are simply aware of your thoughts.

pp. 26-27

So we’re not our labels, we’re not our experiences, we’re not inner emotions nor outer objects, and we’re not even our thoughts! If this is all so what in the world ARE we??

Eventually, you will get to a point within yourself where you realize that you, the experiencer, have a certain quality. And that quality is awareness, consciousness, an intuitive sense of existence. You know that you’re in there. You don’t have to think about it; you just know . You can think about it if you want to, but you will know that you’re thinking about it. You exist regardless, thoughts or no thoughts.

Challenge #5: Piano Finale

Notice that with a single glance at a room, or out a window, you instantaneously see the full detail of everything that’s in front of you. You are effortlessly aware of all the objects that are within the scope of your vision, both near and far away. Without moving your head or eyes, you perceive all the intricate detail of what you immediately see. Look at all the colors, the variations of light, the grain of wood furniture, the architecture of buildings, and the variations of bark and leaves on trees. Notice that you take all this in at once, without having to think about it. No thoughts are necessary; you just see it.

Now try to use thoughts to isolate, label, and describe all the intricate detail of what you see. How long would it take your mental voice to describe all that detail to you, versus the instantaneous snapshot of consciousness just seeing? When you just look without creating thoughts, your consciousness is effortlessly aware of, and fully comprehends, all that it sees. …

Let’s say you are in a room looking at a group of people and a piano. Now make believe the piano ceases to exist in your wold. Would you have a major problem with that? You say,

“No, I don’t think so. I’m not attached to pianos.”

Okay then, make believe the people in the room cease to exist. Are you still okay? Can you handle it? You say,

“Sure, I like being alone.”

Now make believe your awareness doesn’t exist. Just turn it off. How are you doing now? What would it be like if your awareness didn’t exist? It’s actually pretty simple — you wouldn’t be there. There would be no sense of “me.”

pp. 27-28

I know that was long, but I hope you have found it as interesting and enlightening as I did. So what is the final answer that the author is looking for from his hypothetical interviewee?

I am the one who sees. From back in here somewhere, I look out, and I am aware of the events, thoughts, and emotions that pass before me.

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Take comfort this week in knowing that you are always peacefully, calmly situated in your “true home,” the “seat of Self.”

 ~~~S Wave~~~

The Opposite of Love

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.

– Saint John

We teach that hate is the opposite of love, but I’ve been thinking that it is actually fear that is the opposite.

As I was writing about the things I want to transcend, I realized that most of the things that we want to overcome can be reduced down to a fear. Let’s say, for example, that I want to overcome a concern about what others think of me. That’s reasonable. But where does that concern come from in the first place? Fear, right? Fear that if someone thinks something negative then I’ll be shunned, rejected, left. So isn’t it really from the fear that I would have to be liberated first?

Fear, though, gets forgotten as our attention and our “treatments” gets directed to what are really just the manifestations of the fear. We end up being held back from knowing the fullness of our Selves and the beauty of our dreams because the underlying fear isn’t addressed. Imagine if that fear was gone. What if the prospect of rejection, neglect, and abandonment just wasn’t scary in the first place? What if you weren’t scared of loss, of death, of pain? Sounds pretty liberating.

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In my experience, the first step to getting free from fear is recognizing that it’s there. When you think you are upset by something, try being still and asking our mind and your body what they are really scared of. Accept the answer you get without judgement and with great compassion. Connect with your belief in a higher power that is interested only in your greatest good. Then you are ready to begin to let that fear go.

Some fears are easy to change simply by CHOOSING to believe in something different. For example, if I declare that I believe in all things working together for good, it is much easier for me to release the fear of failure, because even “failures” must be part of the good that is unfolding. They lose their power.

Other fears of course aren’t so easy to let go of. The process might be longer, but it is the same in principle. No matter what your belief system is, if you sit with compassion and listen to the pain that resides in you, asking it what it needs and offering YOUR love to it, I believe that it must dissipate. Because love does cast out fear.

Media credit: Leah Piken Kolidas

Media credit: Leah Piken Kolidas

Besides your own liberation and accessibility to your dreams, there is another benefit to realizing that fear is the opposite of love: you begin to have more compassion for others.

I have someone in my life who must have been sent to teach me about loving others! I sometimes find this person to be condescending or dismissive toward me which then triggers sensitivities in me and make me feel hostile toward her. It’s a terrible, but common cycle. This morning, as I was thinking about my experiences with her, these realizations about fear  entered my mind at the same time and I realized that the two are related. I realized that just as I have fears that lead me to operate in less than love, so too does everyone.

As I reconceptualize her condescension as a product of fear–hers and mine–I can feel compassion for the two of us. We become reduced to our essences…two souls traveling in this journey on Earth together and navigating our experiences with our own level of consciousness at this point in time and space. Separateness becomes comradery. We’re in this together! Why be cells that are battling against each other when we can come together and form something new??

Of course she may not have the same realization, but suddenly that doesn’t matter. I recognize and express gratitude for our connection and I embrace her in a protective, prayerful energy that genuinely desires her highest good. It feels good to be free. And to let her be free as well.

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I have been receiving a lot of wonderful, simple insights during my times of prayer and meditation. I post these most frequently on our Facebook page so don’t forget to visit us there. You are all such joy to me. May you be free from fear today!

What We Ought

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“In a real sense all life is inter-related. All men are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garmet of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be, and you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be. This is the inter-related structure of reality.”

– Martin Luther King Jr.

Today, as we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. and allow ourselves to be stirred and ignited by the many illuminated messages that he shared with us, I want to encourage you to acknowledge your connection to him. He knew that he was connected to you. Do you know it?

He strived to be “what he ought.” As you strive toward the same—whether in your attitude, your activism, your awareness, your altruism—allow yourself to feel connected to the great multitude of others like King who have lived before you and tried to be their very best in order to inflict great love upon this world. Their energy, their wave, lives on.