Maybe I read too much, I don’t know. There is a book that I have borrowed from the library but never got around to reading more than a few sections of. It is in high demand so when you get on the request list you can only hold onto it for two weeks. Well today it was so so cold at home I just had to get out this morning. I had done all my chores and could not feel my fingers – my body was like ice despite having the heating on full bore, so I went off to our local centre to have a hot drink, get food for lunch and I can never resist the bookshop where I came across Michael Singer’s book The Untethered Soul that I had borrowed twice from the library but not been able to read all of.
It is a very interesting book in that it explains how our inner dialogue so often causes us to become stuck and at times make mountains out of molehills, that said we all know how past trauma gives us a hair trigger, high alert defence system and looking back this is what has landed me in so much hot water in my past. For example when my nephew tricked my sister under the influence of my mother claiming she was ‘on a high’ (most probably true but did it have to be pathologized so much?) I was living back at home with Mum and I felt pressure to get out and that is how we ended up at the auction for this old place I now live in that I struggle with the upkeep of. I got my hand forced that day at the auction and caved and immediately regretted it. I know it was a long time ago, I did try to get out of it a few years back but my thinking and fears and feelings of overwhelm stopped me again as well as my therapist’s encouragement that if I did not over think it all I could make the most of the place which I have been trying to do though the upkeep does run away on me at times.
Today I woke up again feeling so lost and down on myself too thinking of how much there is to maintain here and how I have landed myself even deeper in a financial tangle by trying to help someone. Really I have to keep a sense of humour around the whole thing so as to stop myself driving myself crazy. I have a bit of a thumping headache at the moment. Anyway Michael’s book addresses a kind of mindfulness practice of witnessing the way our minds over run us with all kinds of thoughts and try to convince us everything is most certainly ‘not okay’ at best and totally doomed at worst. That said our thinking too can help us to stop becoming overwhelmed with painful feelings that may also be triggered by negative thoughts or anxiety thinking.
For those of us with body trauma sitting still for a kind of inward tuning meditation is also not easy at times, since the body feels very many painful sensations as the result of trauma, that is why I so often try to keep myself moving when being able to just sit still and not be so driven may be more helpful. That said I know I also need to give my body good things like fresh air and exercise in order to feel well.
I realise lately how much I have let fear and anger and other reactive patterns dominate my life and over cloud my thinking. I think of how difficult I have, at times, found it to contain or hold inward my painful feelings and that said feelings do need a degree of release at times but the problem is that often they can get dumped on others or we find ourselves dumped on unfairly due to another’s issue, problematic feelings, trauma, anger or unfelt grief. Or else we just start thinking things that are not really true, just as Michael addresses it in his book.
That is why I think healing does demand quite a lot of work on self awareness and getting to understand why we react as we do so that we don’t have to react as much and can respond more skilfully, less defensively and in an intelligent and thoughtful way. God knows its now always easy to get a handle on all or our feelings and expectations as well as how valid, necessary or realistic they truly are.
Surely maturity involves being able to see that others just carry their own stuff as we do and no one person can always understand us, just as we can never fully always understand others. And maybe when realise this our tendency to react impulsively lessens and we become more capable of self containment that does not negate heartfelt and meaningful connections with others.
In his book Michael recommends externalising all the things our inner reactive mind says to us, all the ways it offers conflicting imputs and demands throughout our day. I the book he likens personifying outwardly that inner voice to become a kind of room mate we share our ongoing psychic space with, watching and listening to the dialogue as well as how it triggers feelings and reactions. Finding ways to externalise all it says enables us to get an easier handle on how this voice is affecting our state of mind and emotional and mental health.
I am sure many are already working with this kind of mindfulness practice. I call my inner critic, Mr A and he is often the one I hear giving a running commentary on my life, and most particularly the way it and other people don’t measure up. Just getting some distance from the inner voices is very helpful to broaden our awareness and so that we can start to examine just exactly what parts of what our inner room mate says to us that don’t really make sense or have anything that meaningful to contribute to our lives.
And the deep truth he points out is also this. We are far more than all of the things we tell ourselves, all of the names or identities we adopt or all of the experiences we have undergone in life. Underneath all of these things our life energy and spirit lives, waiting for us to wake up and find a way to be less tethered or bound to all the things we tell ourselves are not ultimately the full truth about us, often just like clouds passing should we develop the ability to let go more and not attach as deeply to the pain or fear or anger or sadness.
If you want to free yourself, you must first become conscious enough to understand your predicament. Then you must commit yourself to the inner work of freedom. .. As it is right now, your life is not your own: it belongs to the inner room mate… You have to take it back. 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.
Michael Singer : The Untethered Soul.