Untethered Soul, Chapter 7

It’s back! I can hardly believe it myself. But not to worry, I hadn’t actually forgotten about our chapter summaries of The Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer. I just got distracted by some other things in life.

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And speaking of distractions, Chapter 7 of the book is called Transcending the Tendency To Close and it also has a little do with distraction as well. It’s the last chapter of section 2 which has introduced us to the idea of energy…energies inside of us, our reactions to them, and our natural tendency to create Samskaras or blocked energies.

This chapter wraps up Singer’s introduction to energy and your ability to cling or release by giving us practical advice for how to NOT develop Samskaras. Here, Singer talks about “falling behind” the energies as they come up, meaning allowing your consciousness to not follow thoughts that enter our mind, but allowing them to pass. These might be immediate thoughts like, “I can’t believe I did that! What would it be like if I hadn’t done that? What should I do next time? I need to figure it out now!” The alternative to following all those thoughts and getting yourself worked up into a state of elevated blood pressure would just be to fall behind those thoughts. Notice them, accept them, then stay centered as they pass.

Falling behind a thought could also be something related to an event that happened a long time ago. Singer gives the example of someone taking your favorite pencil at work. It might seem like every time you have to use a different pencil, you replay their indiscretion and get agitated all over again. He says deciding to fall behind those thoughts and energies is “simply a matter of taking the risk that you are better off letting go than going with the energy.”

Personally, I’ve felt this risk very acutely in practicing this falling behind tactic. When someone hurts my feelings (or maybe I should say, “When I let myself believe that someone has hurt my feelings,”) I want to be mad and I can feel myself shutting down towards them. In some of these moments I have really asked myself if I will be better off if I let it go in the moment and not follow the tide of anger. Sometimes it’s not an answer that comes easily! My established habit of closing down and getting defensive is a strong one. Trusting that I will be better–even that I will at least be okay–if I let it go and stay centered is a challenge to me. But I keep practicing and more and more I am beginning to see that yes, it is better. It is more free.

And this freedom is what we’re talking about. Freedom from being tossed to and fro with every passing emotional reaction. If we spend our lives consciously or subconsciously trying to protect ourselves via anger or resentment or isolation, we’re not really free, we’re not really protected.

But let’s talk specifics then. How do we not follow energy? How do we fall behind it?

“The moment you feel a change, relax your shoulders and relax the area around your heart. The moment the energy moves you simply relax and release. Play with letting go and falling behind the sense of being bothered. “

Singer says this is how you make “freedom a game.”

“You don’t fight the mind. In fact you don’t even try to change it. You just make a game out of relaxing in the face of its melodrama.”

Moments where you can practice this are simply moments to grow. There will be many, many times when energy captures your attention and you flow along with the current of negative thinking. But the more you practice the easier it will become.

“Your center of consciousness is always stronger than the energy that is pulling on it. …There is nothing wrong with feeling the energies of fear, jealousy, or attraction. It’s not your fault that such energies exist. All the attractions, repulsions, thoughts, and feelings don’t make any difference. They don’t make you pure or impure. They are not you. You are the one who’s watching, and that one is pure consciousness. “

On a  personal note, I have found a particular metaphor that best helps me be able to fall behind the passing thoughts and feelings. At my mother’s house in Illinois there is a porch that looks out over her front yard with the pink-blossomed trees and large ancient oak, past a two-lane country highway, and across the expanding fields and forest on the other side. It is one of the most peaceful places I can think of. There are birds and clouds to watch and maybe a cat sleeping in the sun by your feet. It’s really the perfect place for a cup of coffee or iced tea. Everything around is green and alive.

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Even the whir of passing cars and farm trucks adds to the total comforting experience. Now, this porch has become my metaphor for falling behind. I sit in my inner seat of witness just as I sit on the porch. I acknowledge the passing traffic of thoughts and feelings just as I acknowledge the traffic on the highway. I chase not after each thought and feeling that presents itself just as I move not a muscle in response to the passing cars.

What is your metaphor? Think of your “happy place” where calm and comfort surround you as you are observant and at peace. Got it? Now what is something that passes through your line of sight as you sit in that place? Maybe they are seagulls, maybe they are bees, maybe they are airplanes or pedestrians. The next time you feel the challenging energy rising in you, imagine yourself in that happy place. That thought, reaction, emotion is nothing more than one of those seagulls or pedestrians. You are not following them, not grabbing them. You are noticing them and letting them pass.

Go get your freedom and let’s transcend the tendency to close!

~~~Simone~~~

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The Untethered Soul, Chapter 6

The highest state you have ever experienced is simply the result of how open you were. If you don’t close…This can go on all the time–unending inspiration, unending love, and unending openness. That is the natural state of a healthy heart.

-Michael A. Singer

Something challenging happened to my friend this weekend. “It just brought up so much old stuff,” he told me. Had I remembered what I read in The Untethered Soul’s Chapter 6 called The Secrets of the Spiritual Heart, I would have said, “Sounds like it triggered your Samskara.” If you recall, Chapter 5 began our examination of energy flow. I challenged us all to begin considering those moments in our day when we become closed to the natural energy flow. Have you noticed your moments? HOW ENERGY GETS BLOCKED In Chapter 6, Singer goes into a little more depth about what it means to say that energy gets “blocked,” a nice little buzz term that gets used a lot but isn’t necessarily defined carefully. Singer offers clarification on this with relatable everyday illustrations, as usual. Let me try to summarize… The ideal state would be to have your chakra system, especially your heart chakra, completely open. Openness is when input comes in from your senses based on what you are experiencing and you neither reject nor cling to the subsequent energy created by that experience. The energy of anger might come, but then it goes. The energy of fear might come, but then it goes. The energy of joy might come, but then it goes. Imagine your spiritual heart is a valve for all of these various energies and all is moving through smoothly, without a hitch. Unless you are Jesus or the Buddha, good luck alwaysremaining this open. You probably do have many open moments thoughespecially if you practice mindfulness in one form or another. But for most of us, our perceptions, judgements, and interpretations chime in during many of our experiences. Then, instead of sensations simply passing through the valve of our spiritual heart, something else happens:

…inevitably something comes in that doesn’t make it through. There was this one car, a light blue Ford Mustang, that looked like your girlfriend’s car. But as it passed by, you noticed two people hugging in the front seat. At least it looked like they were hugging, and it sure looked like your girlfriend’s car. But it was a car just like all the other cars, wasn’t’ it? No. It wasn’t just like all the other cars to you.

Our mind begins to go on a scavenger hunt through all the possible meanings of something we’ve just witnessed. And after we fixate on something like this, which most of us do here and there throughout the day, we are no longer experiencing every car and tree that is passing after that light blue Ford. Sure you have to notice the next stop light, but doesn’t your mind just chug chug chug away with thought after thought about that car, your girlfriend, and what could have been going on? You’re not just trying to calmly consider…you’re letting anxiety and fear and suspicion get a hold of you. Ta-da!… That energy gets stuck. And when enough energy gets stuck, think about what happens to that valve of your spiritual heart. It begins to get crusty. Okay, Singer didn’t say “crusty,” he said that these accumulations of stuck energies “encrust the valve of the spiritual heart.” Thus, energy flow is restricted and we get the idea of the energy center (i.e., chakra being “blocked.” SAMSKARAS Singer now introduces the term Samskara and includes these various descriptions of what a Samskara is: a blockage, an impression from the past, an unfinished energy pattern that ends up running your life, a cycle of stored past energy patterns in a state of relative equilibrium, a little packet of cycling energy literally stored in your energetic heart center. Samskara means an energy that won’t stop cycling and cycling because you won’t let it. You keep it there and affirm it. In fact, you have a bunch of these little orbiting energy packets–your Samskaras. These blockages can stay with you a long long time. This should come as no surprise since sometimes difficult experiences from decades ago can still “come up” with a look or a word from a stranger. You probably know exactly what I mean. My friend has some Samskaras that he has not released and so they became easily aggravated by the situation in which he found himself this weekend.

A Busy Mind by Ghostgirl-Shanika

A Busy Mind by Ghostgirl-Shanika

Singer says that this pattern of energy blocking is where depression, darkness, negativity can begin. There is too little energy coming in or out in relation to that Samskara. It doesn’t mean that you are not open at other times and related to other experiences.  A light blue Ford might set you off for years to come because of the fear of infidelity that it arouses; but perhaps in most other situations you are able to be open and in the moment. By the way, there are also Samskaras that develop from clinging too tightly to certain expereinces. These would be impressions that you have retained because of the great sense of joy associated with them. Sometimes we don’t want that good feeling to ever end. But just like fear and anger, we can allow joy and exuberance to pass through as well. Learning to Stay Open You can probably imagine that in order to stop this process of blocking and clinging there is going to be an intentional change required. And what is it? Singer recommends that when your light blue Ford drives by, notice the pain, smile, relax, step back into your seat of witness and observe the pain as it just flows through you. Maybe all you’ve tried so far is clinging or pushing. Maybe all you’ve done so far is allowing your heart to get blocked. Time to try something new, isn’t it?

It only hurts for a minute and then it’s over. …Learn to be centered enough to just watch this stuff come up. Once you sit deeply enough inside to stop fighting the stored energy patterns, they’ll come up constantly and pass right through you. Just like the physical body purges bacteria and other foreign matter, the natural flow of your energy will purge the stored patterns from your heart.

So here is the question for the week. And this time I don’t have to make it up for us…it is right there at the bottom of page 57:

Do you want to try to change the world so it doesn’t disturb your Samskaras, or are you willing to go through this process of purification?

So begin. Anticipate the freedom and ease that will come into your life as you release this energy. And stay tuned for our summary of Chapter 7 which gives us even more direction on how to transform our tendencies to close. Here’s to your open heart, ~~~S Wave~~~

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