This is a summary review of The Untethered Soul containing key details about the book.
What is The Untethered Soul About?
The book helps us transform our relationship with ourselves and the world around us. By tapping into traditions of meditation and mindfulness, the author shows how the development of consciousness can enable us all to dwell in the present moment and let go of painful thoughts and memories that keep us from achieving happiness and self-realization.
Who is the Author of The Untethered Soul?
Michael A. Singer is a spiritual teacher and author of two New York Times bestsellers: The Untethered Soul and The Surrender Experiment. He has made major contributions in the areas of business, education, health care, and environmental protection.
What are key takeaways from The Untethered Soul?
Takeaway #1 Your Thoughts Don't Define You
You know that inner voice you have inside of you that rarely shuts up? Listen to it, witness what thoughts are coming up, but don't identify with them. If you can listen to this outpouring of consciousness without getting trapped in it, you'll find yourself on the first step to achieving enlightenment. Our inner voice affects our emotions, it can make us happy or it can make us sad but we forget that our thoughts are just objects of our consciousness. This is where the difference of self and personal self come into play. Self is pure consciousness. Personal self is the way you perceive yourself and those around you. Accept that your thoughts don't define you, that jealousy isn't who you are, that sadness isn't a part of you, and enlightenment will follow.
Takeaway #2 Letting Your Energy Flow
Consciousness and energy are flowing inside of us but most of us have blocked that flow subconsciously leading us to live reactory lives. Tap into your powerful internal energy and you'll feel on top of the world, the extremes of life and the act of reacting and then recovering no longer holding you down. In Chinese medicine, this internal energy is called Chi and it's accessed by opening the mind. Unreleased energy can lead to depression and fear because negative thoughts and negative energy build up inside of you instead of being released. Letting go of your limiting thoughts and your fears is great, but an even better way is to train your consciousness, your self, to turn away from negative thoughts and emotions therefor releases your personal self from the self-made cage so that it can expand.
Takeaway #3 Finding Balance
You have to find the right balance between what you want and what you can realistically accomplish. This is why so many New Year resolutions fail, because we believe we can 'magically' achieve X if we put our mind to it. We might go at it gung-ho for the first week but after that, the want becomes too much when tackling daily life. But there is a way to succeed, you just need to find the Tao, the balance. You can't be too extreme about anything because it won't be able to stand the test of time whether that be a relationship, a fitness regime, or a job.
Takeaway #4 Reflecting on Death
It's really not something that we like to dwell on whether considering our own death or that of someone close to us but considering death can give our lives more meaning. We understand what's truly important and can then prioritize so that life is spent doing what we love and with the people who mean the most to us. So take a moment to really think, if you were to die next week what would you do differently in your remaining days? Why aren't you doing that now?!
What are some in-depth lessons from The Untethered Soul
Lesson #1. Your Thoughts Don’t Define You
You know that little voice in your head that hardly ever stops? That’s your consciousness talking. Start paying attention to it if you want to begin your journey toward enlightenment but know also that your thoughts, that little voice does not define you.
That little voice is your consciousness and is the part of your brain that spends all its time processing your thoughts and feelings along with the information that your senses pick up - she walked straight past me without speaking but I know that she saw me, does she hate me? What did I do to her? Well, 2 can play at that game, when she phones I won’t answer... Yes, that’s exactly the sort of internal dialogue we’re talking about!
When you start listening to that little voice in your head, paying attention to what it says, you’ll notice that it follows certain patterns and influences your emotions. It’s important to remember that these thoughts are just objects of your consciousness so don’t let yourself get caught up in your head as there is a difference between your true self and your personal self.
Your true self is your pure consciousness and it can flow in any direction it likes. Your personal self is the way you perceive yourself and the patterns of your thoughts. For example, if you feel angry often, you might start to think of yourself as an angry person. Accept that thoughts such as this do not define you - your anger is not you. When you accept this, becoming aware of the way your thoughts and feelings affect you, you’ll find yourself on the road to enlightenment.
Lesson #2. Let The Deep Energy Flow
Did you know that there’s a source of powerful energy deep inside you? Most people unconsciously block this energy, your job is to tap into it and let it flow - Master this and you’ll be able to achieve just about anything!
Think about the times when you’ve suddenly had a burst of energy after laying around the house, in bed or on the couch, feeling depressed and lethargic. Most of us feel lethargic like this after we’ve been dumped but if your ex were to then message you and say they’d had a change of heart you’d likely feel a burst of energy that would send you soaring to the moon and back with the feeling that you could achieve anything and everything.
In Chinese medicine that energy is known as chi whilst in yoga, that same energy is known as shakti. Although it doesn’t feel like it sometimes, that magical energy is always available to you, you just have to tap into it by opening your mind and letting the energy flow.
How do we block this pure energy so that we cannot feel it? Imagine that you’re driving through town one day and have to stop at traffic lights. Just before the traffic starts moving again, you think you see your ex coming out of a store laughing and holding hands with someone. The light changes color so you have to drive on but your consciousness remains rooted on that spot. You feel hurt, upset, jealous, consumed with the thoughts and feelings of what you just saw. Your chi builds up but cannot be released because you’re in this negative state, listening to your inner voice. If you don’t let the thoughts and images in your mind float past you, the unreleased energy can lead to depression.
Lesson #3. Living Life Free From Fear Is Impossible
Despite fear being an object of your consciousness, you cannot escape feeling it. There’s a very good reason that your mind is sensitive to fear and anxiety and therefore focuses on negative things - it had to evolve this way to keep us alive from predators back when we were living in caves.
So how can you overcome fear so that you can live a happier life? You have 2 options, you can either run away from it or recognize fear and let it go.
Think of fear as a painful splinter in your finger and it’s easier to understand. If you touch the place where the splinter has gone in, it hurts. You might leave the splinter in your finger but as you go about your day, you’ll have to modify your behavior so that nothing touches it. We often deal with fear this way - attempting to protect ourselves by bottling it up and restructuring our life so that nothing triggers the fear. But if you were to simply remove the splinter, despite feeling some discomfort whilst finding it and removing it, you would soon be able to go about your day undeterred and would forget the splinter ever happened. Fear should be attacked and pulled out just like that splinter - your fear is not a part of you, it’s something that is separate from you and therefore should be removed.
Fear is the result of blocked inner energy and when blocked, it cannot reach your heart resulting in your heart getting weaker and becoming more susceptible to fear - yep, catch 22. So weed out that fear! You cannot eliminate fear but on your journey towards enlightenment, you will be able to reach a point where you’re aware of fear but it doesn’t ever get to the point of taking over your life
Lesson #4. Surpass The Confines Of Your Personal Self
Currently, your consciousness is tightly linked with your personal self but when you train your consciousness to turn away from the thoughts and feelings of your self, you widen your consciousness to transcend the confines of your personal self.
Think of your personal self as a caged animal at the zoo, confined not by metal bars but by the mental boundaries of your self - that mental image that has shaped over the years by all your thoughts and feelings, built to protect yourself from anything and anyone who threatens the idea of who you are.
You have to let the thoughts go so that your consciousness can expand. Don’t worry, you know how this works already - remember the times you were so engrossed in a TV show that you forgot about the world around you? Your consciousness works like that too - it’s so focused on your thoughts, feelings, and impressions that it tunes everything else out. This is called clinging in Buddhism but you might want to think of it as reinforcing that cage around you.
Only after you break out of the cage of consciousness by letting it expand, letting your negative thoughts simply float right past you, will you transcend your personal self to discover more freedom than you ever imagined.
Lesson #5. The Thought Of Death Lets You Focus On What’s Important
What would you do today if you knew you would die tomorrow?
The thought of dying is frightening but it also enables you to consider the meaning and purpose of your life. If you knew you only had 1 day, would that petty fight seem so important? Would you let your kids annoy you? Would you put in the extra hours at work? Would you penny-pinch? No, you would make sure the time you had left was spent with friends and family letting them know how much you love them and that, in time, you wish them to move on and be happy without you.
Why aren’t you telling your family how much you care now? Why aren’t you spending your time doing the things that bring you the most joy right now? Why are you saving that expensive coat for best occasions only? Why are you wasting your time on things that aren’t important? Don’t wait - do the things you want to do, that are important to you, now.
Lesson #5. Finding The Balance
We fail at things (take New Year’s resolutions for example!) because we don’t get the balance right between what we want and what we can achieve. But there’s a way to balance those scales in all areas of your life when you apply Tao.
Think about the two extremes of being in a relationship - On 1 side of the scale you want to be with your partner every second of the day, doing everything together, not being apart for even a moment. On the other end of the scale, you value your independence and choose to live apart and also want to travel alone - neither of these two extremes can result in a healthy long-term relationship. Therefore, you have to find the Tao between the two extremes.
When you veer off of this balanced path of Tao, tipping the scales to one side too much, you lose a lot of energy and things end up taking much longer and being more difficult. If/when you do finally reach your end goal, you’re exhausted from the journey you’ve put yourself on as if you were riding a bike uphill in the wrong gear!
Find the balanced path of Tao, keep on it, and you’ll be energized and empowered with everything in life becoming much clearer and easier. In which areas of your life have you lost Tao?
- Print length: 186 Pages
- Audiobook: 6 hrs and 11 mins
- Genre: Self Help, Nonfiction, Spirituality
What are the chapters in The Untethered Soul?
Chapter One - The Voice Inside Your Head
Chapter Two - Your Inner Roommate
Chapter Three - Who Are You?
Chapter Four - The Lucid Self
Chapter Five - Infinite Energy
Chapter Six - The Secrets of the Spiritual Heart
Chapter Seven - Transcending the Tendency to Close
Chapter Eight - Let Go Now or Fall
Chapter Nine - Removing Your Inner Thorn
Chapter Ten - Stealing Freedom for Your Soul
Chapter Eleven - Pain, the Price of Freedom
Chapter Twelve - Taking Down the Walls
Chapter Thirteen - Fat, Far Beyond
Chapter Fourteen - Letting Go of False Solidity
Chapter Fifteen - The Path of Unconditional Happiness
Chapter Sixteen - The Spiritual Path of Nonresistance
Chapter Seventeen - Contemplating Death
Chapter Eighteen - The Secret of the Middle Way
Chapter Nineteen - The Loving Eyes of God
What are some of the main summary points from the book?
Here are some key summary points from the book:
- Identify with the observer: The book emphasizes the importance of distinguishing yourself from your thoughts, emotions, and experiences. By stepping back and observing them, you can develop a sense of detachment and find inner peace.
- Release limiting beliefs: Singer suggests that many of our struggles and limitations stem from deeply ingrained beliefs about ourselves. By identifying and questioning these beliefs, we can free ourselves from their constraints and open up new possibilities.
- Embrace the present moment: The book emphasizes the power of living in the present moment. By letting go of regrets about the past and worries about the future, you can fully engage with the richness of life and experience a deeper level of joy and contentment.
- Practice mindfulness: Singer encourages the practice of mindfulness as a way to cultivate awareness and presence. By bringing your attention to the present moment and observing your thoughts and emotions without judgment, you can develop a greater sense of self-awareness and peace.
- Let go of attachments: The book emphasizes the importance of letting go of attachments to external things and outcomes. By recognizing that true happiness comes from within and not from external circumstances, you can free yourself from dependence on external factors for your well-being.
- Surrender to the flow of life: Singer suggests that resisting the natural flow of life's experiences creates unnecessary suffering. By surrendering to what is and embracing life's ups and downs, you can find a deeper sense of peace and acceptance.
- Cultivate unconditional happiness: The book suggests that true happiness comes from within and is not dependent on external conditions. By cultivating a sense of inner happiness and contentment, you can navigate life's challenges with resilience and grace.
- Live with an open heart: Singer encourages opening your heart to love and allowing it to guide your actions and interactions with others. By cultivating compassion, forgiveness, and love, you can experience deeper connections and a more meaningful life.
What are good quotes from The Untethered Soul?
“There is nothing more important to true growth than realizing that you are not the voice of the mind - you are the one who hears it.” (Meaning)
“If you truly love someone, your love sees past their humanness”
“Only you can take inner freedom away from yourself, or give it to yourself. Nobody else can.”
“If you want to be happy, you have to let go of the part of you that wants to create melodrama. This is the part that thinks there’s a reason not to be happy. You have to transcend the personal, and as you do, you will naturally awaken to the higher aspects of your being. In the end, enjoying life’s experiences is the only rational thing to do. You’re sitting on a planet spinning around in the middle of absolutely nowhere. Go ahead, take a look at reality. You’re floating in empty space in a universe that goes on forever. If you have to be here, at least be happy and enjoy the experience. You’re going to die anyway. Things are going to happen anyway. Why shouldn’t you be happy? You gain nothing by being bothered by life’s events. It doesn’t change the world; you just suffer. There’s always going to be something that can bother you, if you let it.”
“When a problem is disturbing you, don't ask, "What should I do about it?" Ask, "What part of me is being disturbed by this?”
“Do not let anything that happens in life be important enough that you’re willing to close your heart over it.”
“Eventually you will see that the real cause of problem is not life itself. It's the commotion the mind makes about life that really causes the problems.”
“We are constantly trying to hold it all together. If you really want to see why you do things, then don't do them and see what happens.”
“The truth is that most of life will unfold in accordance with forces far outside your control, regardless of what your mind says about it”
“Instead of being encouraged to feel completely protected, loved, honored, and respected by the Divine Force, you've been taught that you're being judged. Because you've been taught that, you feel guilt and fear. But guilt and fear do not open you connection to the Divine; they only serve to close your heart. The reality is that God's way is love, and you can see this for yourself.”
“Your relationship with God is the same as your relationship with the sun. If you hid from the sun for years and then chose to come out of your darkness, the sun would still be shining as if you had never left. You don’t need to apologize. You just pick your head up and look at the sun. It’s the same way when you decide to turn toward God—you just do it.”
“Imagine if you used relationships to get to know other people, rather than to satisfy what is blocked inside of you. If you’re not trying to make people fit into your preconceived notions of what you like and dislike, you will find that relationships are not really that difficult. If you’re not so busy judging and resisting people based upon what is blocked inside of you, you will find that they are much easier to get along with—and so are you. Letting go of yourself is the simplest way to get closer to others.”
―Michael A. Singer - The Untethered Soul Quotes
What do critics say?
Here's what one of the prominent reviewers had to say about the book: "The Untethered Soul is a brilliant treatment of the path of spiritual consciousness. It is clearly and powerfully written. Michael Singer provides a firm step for those on a spiritual journey." — Abdul Aziz Said, Professor of Peace Studies, Chair of Islamic Peace, American University
* The summary points above have been concluded from the book and other public sources. The editor of this summary review made every effort to maintain information accuracy, including any published quotes, chapters, or takeaways
Tal Gur is an author, founder, and impact-driven entrepreneur at heart. After trading his daily grind for a life of his own daring design, he spent a decade pursuing 100 major life goals around the globe. His journey and most recent book, The Art of Fully Living, has led him to found Elevate Society.