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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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.

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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~~~

Untethered Soul, Chapter 2

Welcome back to our summary series of The Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer! So far we have used the introduction and first chapter to inspire simple noticing. We are noticing the voice inside our head and are growing more and more curious about the fact that we can separate ourselves from that voice. If we can separate from it, then we can consider ourselves the listeners, yes?

Well so what?

Enter Chapter 2. It is called The Inner Roommate and it’s a great metaphor for realizing the power that the inner voice has over our decision-making and our perspective on our lives. It also introduces us to our own power to disentangle ourselves from that voice. The metaphor goes like this…

You have a roommate. This roommate is with you ALL THE TIME. And the worst part about the roommate is that they jump immediately to worry, fear, and doubt with news about almost anything. fd98525722a532d71ebb65851cd0ad0d.wix_mpIf you want a quiet time by yourself. Too bad. There’s that roommate popping in and interrupting with a barrage of thoughts, questions, judgements and worries. You want to watch a movie? Too bad. The roommate is there to tell you everything else you should be doing. Want to enjoy your new romance? Too bad. The roommate is jabbering at your ear to freak out about everything that might go wrong, or right, or wrong, or right….

Imagine how crazy you would become if that were a person in the flesh! I would be looking for a studio apartment quick!

Now that you’ve been noticing your inner voice, isn’t it kind of like that though? The inner voice sees almost everything as a problem to be solved. But if we could step back, disentangle, and be curious about why that part is feeling fear or worry or doubt, then we would experience a new kind of freedom. After all, it can be a GOOD thing that there are protective parts inside of wanting to shield us from hurt and loss. But that benefit ceases to exist when we they begin to reign. As we grow spiritually and personally, we need those defenses less and less; we become able to allow potential painful situations to happen.

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And so, just as we would never tolerate an actual roommate like that in our life, Singer suggests that part of spiritual growth is not tolerating our complete identification with that inner roommate.

This is the essential difference between a spiritually minded person and a worldly person. Worldly doesn’t mean that you have money or stature. Worldly means that you think the solution to your inner problems is in the world outside. You think that if you change things outside, you’ll be okay. But nobody has ever truly become okay by changing things outside. There’s always the next problem. The only real solution is to take the seat of witness consciousness and completely change your frame of reference. … The only permanent solution to your problems is to go inside and let go of the part of you that seems to have so many problems with reality. Once you do that, you’ll be clear enough to deal with what’s left.

One of the most common thread between spiritual practices is the goal of releasing ourselves from this predicament of ego versus self. “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind,” has been one of my favorite Bible scriptures for a long time.

Spiritual practice isn’t about being better than other people or being right. It’s not even about vanquishing all fear. It’s about being able to recognize those fears, those anxieties, those worries and be in the seat of consciousness in the midst of them. Prayer, yoga, meditation, chanting. All of these things are means for us to be more centered in our Self throughout our daily life.

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Your will is stronger than the habit of listening to that voice. There’s nothing you can’t do. Your will is supreme over all of this. … Stand firm in the seat of the witness and release the hold that the habitual mind has on you. This is your life – reclaim it.

How do we find that will? How do we “stand firm in the seat of the witness?”

Next week, chapter three will take us a step closer to answering that question. Until next Wednesday, let’s agree that we believe there is more freedom than we allow ourselves to experience when we hear only our psyche, our inner voice. Let’s entertain the possibility that we have the ability to not be at the mercy of its every changing thought and that our inner roommate need not rule the roost.

As I am becoming more and more familiar with that “seat of consciousness” from which I sit back and observe my inner roommate going about her up’s and down’s, I will be using affirmations to till the soil for the garden of growth I seek! Join me in letting these words permeate your own life this week. Say them a few times a day. Write them and put them around your home, in your car, at work.

There is more to me than my inner voice.

I have just as much potential as anyone else to be free from my fears and worries and anxieties.

My life is evolving, always, towards this freedom.

I find myself at peace in my seat of consciousness and am more and more embodying my true Self.

 

Thank you for reading, waves. Be well and here’s to our growing together.

~~~S Wave~~~

Untethered Soul, Chapter 1

If you read last week’s post, Untethered Soul: Introduction, you know that for the next few months I will be summarizing and personalizing this enlightening book chapter by chapter.

I want to insert a quick caveat here before moving on to the first chapter: There are many thoughts, many ideas, many ways of looking at any particular object or idea in the world. If the philosophies in this book resonate with you and bring you freedom of any kind, treasure that! If they don’t serve you, let them go. There are fewer and fewer times that I feel I have found a “truth,” but more and more times I feel I have found something helpful. And that is a much better thing to search for after all, isn’t it?

Now, let’s pick up where we left off…

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Last week I introduced the book, The Untethered Soul, by Michael Singer with an invitation for you. The invitation was to spend some time contemplating what is YOU. When you say “me,” what do you mean?

Now it’s time to jump into book’s Part One, Awakening Consciousness. Sounds complex. But Singer is great at taking the complex and making it accessible, step by step. The first step, Chapter 1, is called “The Voice Inside Your Head.” The purpose of the chapter is to help us notice this voice. Can you imagine having someone yammering at you all day and not even realizing they are doing it?? Well welcome to the Voice.

Singer begins by pointing out that we have an ongoing dialogue in our head all the time. It is so incessant, so familiar, that we might not even realize it’s happening. We are as the author says, “too close to be objective” so you might not even realize this is happening. But if you think about it, our mind is talking all the time. Sometimes it takes one side, sometimes it takes the other. Sometimes it’s angry. And then the next moment it tells itself not to be angry. It reminds me a lot of the idea of parts that I have described in past posts.

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Sometimes we want this voice to stop. We tell it (or, as we usually think of it, we tell ourselves), “Stop! Shut up!” But that’s just our voice again. It’s always in conversation.

Is this you? Is this the Self that I referred to last week? If it is, then how are you talking and listening? You are the talker? Or are you the listener? Singer writes that

…the only way to get your distance from this voice is to stop differentiating what it’s saying. 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. You are the one who notices that it’s talking.

Here is a tidy little exercise to better grasp what he is saying. He suggests that we make our voice say “Hello.” Don’t say it out loud. Just hear it in your head. “Hello.” Now hear it over and over and over. “Hello, hello, hello.” Now make it scream “HELLOOOOO!” You can hear it right? You were listening to it. You are the listener.

Or, here is another activity:

Suppose you were looking at three objects—a flowerpot, a photograph, and a book—and were then asked, ‘Which of these objects is you?’ You’d say, ‘None of them! I’m the one who’s looking at what you’re putting in front of me. It doesn’t matter what you put in front of me, it’s always going to be me looking at it.

In other words, just as what you see is not you, all of what you hear is not you. You are the listener.

Singer’s next point is that most of these thoughts, perhaps all of these thoughts, really don’t change life much at all. He says it’s like sitting down at night and deciding that you want the sun to come up in the morning. The sun will come up anyway. Life will go on despite all of these thousands of thoughts that you have about it. What they do impact though is your experience of life, your feelings about what is happening. They make you feel better or worse about what is going on.

If you spend your time hoping that it doesn’t rain tomorrow, you’re wasting your time. Your thoughts don’t change the rain. … Eventually you’ll see that the real cause of problems is not life itself. It’s the commotion the mind makes about life that really causes problems. 

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The purpose of this voice or at least part of the purpose is to narrate the world around us, says Singer. The voice is trying to make sense of it for ourselves. It labels things for us. Judges them. Predicts them. It connects an experience were having now with all of our other thoughts we’ve ever had about a similar experience. It makes us feel safer. Instead of just experiencing the world around us as it is as things are happening now as they are, outside of our control, we compartmentalize with this voice.

What you end up experiencing is really a personal presentation of the world according to you, rather than the stark, unfiltered experience of what is really out there.

So now, the question of the hour. Instead of re-creating the outside world inside of yourself in a way that makes you feel more comfortable, what if you decided to do something different? What if you decided not to narrate? What if you could transcend the part of you that feels it always needs protection?

As long as you simply want to feel secure safe and unpredictable world,

…you will be forced to constantly use your mind to buffer yourself from life, instead of living it. This world is unfolding and really has very little to do with you or your thoughts. It was here long before you came, and it will be here long after you leave. In the name of attempting to hold the world together, you’re really just trying to hold yourself together. 

To change this, to really experience life without censorship for the sake of safety, Singer proposes that one can begin to constantly remember: I am the one inside that notices the voice talking. A change will assuredly begin to take place if we were to do this, wouldn’t it?

And so, for this week let’s do that. Begin to notice that you are listening to the voice in your head, but you are not that voice. Let there be a subject (your awareness) and an object (the voice.) Begin to notice that there can be a separation between the two. 

After I read this chapter, I practiced this awareness activity and it was amazing to notice the amount of chatter going on. It already begin to feel emancipating to let go of some of my attachment to that chatter and just let it pass by me. But I’m jumping ahead… More on that next Tuesday. For now….

Enjoy the assignment. You are the listener!

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Untethered Soul: Introduction

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Happy November everyone!

The past month has been full of a lot of learning. It’s been very busy here and even though I haven’t written much, my Life As a Wave family is always on my mind.

I’ve been doing more and more energy therapy and prayer support with people, both friends and family, and with NEW friends that come my way via word-of-mouth. I’ve been taking some new classes to hone these skills and am still holding down my fabulous 9-5. Walking more and more in my passion and purpose and loving it! But more on that later…

One resource from which I’ve gotten a lot of peace and power during this time of growth is a book I read recently. It is called The Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer. It is the kind of book I want to go back and read again and again. And so, instead of doing that by myself, I want to invite all of you to join me in a week by week “reading” of the untethered soul. I know it’s hard to sit down and read the kinds of encouraging, inspiring, nourishing books on our wish list. But you deserve that encouragement, inspiration and nourishment! So let me make it easier for you!

Each week I will summarize one chapter and propose ways that we can take the ideas from that chapter and bring them into our “real” lives. I hope you will follow along with us and through this process I hope we can each experience some measure of benefit in.

For today, let me introduce, well, the introduction. 🙂 It opens with a quote from William Shakespeare: “This above all: to thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.”

Singer uses this quote to pose the conundrum to us of what the “self” really is. (Buckle up, because this is the heart of the book!) Is it Freud’s ego, superego, id? Is it the part of us that feels strong emotions? Is it our mind? Is it our ethics?

Here, the author unveils that in this book the real meaning of self is determined by one expert alone… You. To be clear, you are not an expert based on your studies, on your philosophies. It is based on your “direct experience,” the “intuitive experience of what it is like to be you. ” Through the chapters to come, Singer will elaborate on the premise that when all the distractions and opinions and voices are pulled away and you are guided to realize your true self, then you are also therefore able to free your own self. This is a matter of empowerment. Clarity. For now, embrace the idea that you are the best expert on knowing what your self is, you just might not know that yet.

And so, for this first week let us ruminate on that question: What is your “self?” To thine own self be true… What is that? What does that really mean? And let’s not only ponder it with our minds, but also with our hearts. In existential meditation one poses a question and allows that question to repeat itself in the heart and mind as the person remains still and receptive. Let the question marinate, let it rest in your awareness throughout the week and see what kinds of responses you get from the world. 

Next week I will begin summarizing Part 1 with Chapter 1, “The Voice Inside Your Head.” It’s a good one! Stay tuned!

 

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