Journey 209: The Middle Way

On my way to Arkansas this morning, to spend time with Greg’s dad in the hospital and allow Greg to go get some much needed sleep, I listened to The Untethered Soul, by Michael A Singer, on Audible. Chapter 18 is called The Secret of the Middle Way. It was perfect, listening to this chapter, thinking about Bob and life as I drove.

untethered soul pic

Writing of walking the middle way, Singer gives examples of living life at the edges, at the extremes. For example, one can never eat….or eat all the time. Both extremes can’t be continued, without disastrous results. The middle way would be to eat, when the body says it is time to eat, and to eat something that sustains and nurtures the body. Another example I thought of would be, I can never speak….I can talk all the time. Or I can find the middle way and speak when I feel compelled to speak and have something worthy and uplifting to share.

Trying to maintain the extremes takes massive amounts of energy, energy that isn’t available then for living a joy-filled, abundant life. Singer uses the picture of a pendulum. If it is pulled 30 degrees to the right and released, it will swing 30 degrees to the left. That’s a physics law. If you pull a pendulum one way, it will swing the opposite way just as far. We often live life like that. If I starve myself for days, I am apt to swing the other way just as far, and overeat when I finally give in and eat. It’s not healthy. It’s not easy to maintain, without massive effort. How long, Singer asks, will a pendulum stay at its outermost position? Only a moment, without continued forces moving it. How long can a pendulum stay at rest? Forever, because no forces are moving it out of balance.

middle way pendulum

To walk the middle way is to stay in a space with no energy pushing me to the edges, to the extremes. It is to stay centered, balanced, at rest within. If something happens….a car cuts me off in traffic….I can swing to an extreme and react from that place….and stay in that agitated place for an unreasonable long time. Or I can let go of what rises up, immediately, and stay centered, stay present. If I start to go off center, I can return, as often as I need to.

This is the way I am journeying. This is the path that brings me such peace and joy. Lived with such awareness and such simplicity, life indeed becomes simple as it unfolds in front of me. And I am always present, always there, as it unfolds. When I am swinging from extreme to extreme, life is exhausting, confusing, out of balance. In reality, I am the one who is exhausting, confused and out of balance.

I loved this section in Chapter 18: “When you stop being confused, everything becomes simple. If you have no preference, if the only thing you want is to remain centered, then life unfolds while you simply feel for the center. There is an invisible thread that passes through everything. All things move quietly through that center balance. That is the way. It is really there. It is there in your relationships, in your diet, in your business activities. It is there in everything. It is the eye of the storm. It is completely at peace.” Ah, yes. Peace. I’ve been very aware of peace this week.

I needed to hear this today. I wanted to be reminded. As I journey with Greg and his dad, I am feeling for the center. I am allowing life to unfold and being present with it. I am not demanding that anything has to be a certain way. I trust that the Divine has brought us all to this exact point in our lives, together, and we will walk through this, with no expected outcomes other than we will walk together in faith and love and joy and peace. I feel that invisible thread. It runs through the center of this situation. It loops around our wrists as Bob and I hold hands while he sleeps. It encircles the bed and the room, the hospital and the medical staff, the family and friends who love Bob. We are open to everything, and attached to nothing. Life is continuing to unfold. I don’t want to miss a second of it.

middle way golden threads

Journey 176: The Surrender Experiment

My life, my journey, has been deeply impacted by the writing of Michael A. Singer. I first discovered him through his book, The Untethered Soul, released in 2007. I have read this book and listened to the audio of it so many times, and every single time, it stirs my heart and soul and raises my awareness, while beckoning me onward. I desire that untethered life of peacefulness, of unbridled joy, where the day’s events don’t unsettled me at all.

surrender experiment

The book club I am part of is currently reading through The Untethered Soul and I was very excited to learn one evening, from my friend Cate, that Michael was releasing a new book, The Surrender Experiment. The subtitle of this book is “My journey into life’s perfection”. I have wanted to read Michael’s story, and understand the path his journey took. It has been a delight to read this book, which I finished tonight, and I am once again encouraged in my own journey.

The Surrender Experiment is the account of Michael’s personal journey, beginning with an awakening in his early 20’s. Determined not to be controlled by his fears or allow his likes and dislikes to dictate his life, Michael began an experiment. He opened to opportunities and possibilities, responding to the situations life brought to him by doing the very best he could and offering the result back to the world, as a gift. If he found himself resisting an idea or an opportunity, he learned to let go…and flow with, rather than against, life.

The flow of life, the guidance of the Divine, took him from being a young man living alone in the woods, meditating and practicing yoga, to acquiring hundreds of additional acres and creating a community of like hearted souls to share the journey with, to becoming the CEO of a huge, successful computer software corporation, to a raid by the FBI because of unfounded accusations by a former employee who embezzled company funds. In this amazing journey, Michael discovered the perfection of allowing his life and his growth to be directed by all that was unfolding in the present moment.

There are a few books that I have read that so resonate with me that a deep sense of stillness comes over me, just reading the words within. The Surrender Experiment is one of those books. In the past few years, I too have experienced the exciting and profound growth that takes place as I stay in life’s flow, guided by the Divine. I’ve come to see myself as immersed in a great river that takes me exactly where I need to go, so long as I stay in the middle of it, in the flow. I can try resisting the flow, by swimming upstream, which drains my energy, wearing me out physically and emotionally and spiritually. Or I can remove myself from the flow and become stagnant, watching as life and opportunities pass by…an observer of life rather than a participant. I choose to stay in the flow.

This is what Michael’s newest book is about….surrendering to that flow….being engaged with what comes to him or where he is swept off to. His level of surrender was so inspiring to me. There is such a deep element of trust and faith involved, when I can’t see beyond the bend in the river, can’t know for sure, or at all, where the flow of life is taking me. However, I am learning that it is all for my good, all for my growth, all to help me release old energy and old habits so that I am, truly, free, untethered, moving beyond. Anything the flow of life takes me to, it will also take me beyond, if I will stay in that flow.

There was an experience in Michael’s life that shifted everything for him. He understood that he was holding himself back in his spiritual journey by thinking of parts of himself as the enemy that needed to be destroyed. In his mind, he kept that struggling person with his restless energies and chattering thoughts locked in a room. The day he opened the door to that mental room, and accepted himself, saying “You can come out now”, was the day his heart broke open and wholeness began.

I was there, four years ago. The day I threw open the locked door to a fiercely guarded room in my heart and told my intuitive self, my weird side, my feared side, “It’s okay, I accept you”, and embraced her, was the day wholeness started for me. There has been no looking back. And now, my journey, the flow of my life, has brought me to this author, this book, this time of growth, at this precise time, which is all perfect.

“Eventually, even the mind stops resisting, and the heart loses the tendency to close. The joy, excitement, and freedom are simply too beautiful to give up. Once you are ready to let go of yourself, life becomes your friend, your teacher, your secret lover. When life’s way becomes your way, all the noise stops, and there is a great peace.”

                                                                        Michael A. Singer, The Surrender Experiment

I am excited to see where the flow of life, the guidance of the Divine, takes me next.

surrender experiment michael a singer

Michael A Singer

Journey 153: Far, Far Beyond

far far beyond

I spent a great deal of time in the car today, driving from one appointment to another, one town after another. That car time provided the perfect opportunity to listen on Audible to chapters 12 and 13 in The Untethered Soul, by Michael A. Singer, in preparation for book club tonight.

I actually listened to chapter 13 twice, rewinding the audio in certain spots over and over again. I reflected as I listened, searched inward, reached outward. Chapter 13, titled Far, Far Beyond, begins with these words “Ultimately, the word ‘beyond’ captures the true meaning of spirituality. In its most basic sense, going beyond means going past where you are. It means not staying in your current state. When you constantly go beyond yourself, there are no more limitations. There are no more boundaries. Limitations and boundaries only exist at the places where you stop going beyond. If you never stop, then you go beyond boundaries, beyond limitation, beyond the sense of a restricted self.”

Those words captivated me two years ago. I read chapter 13 many times, listened to it on audio many times. Something in my heart broke open and I longed to experience a life lived beyond my limitations, beyond my comfort zone. The word beyond began to show up repetitively, in conversations, on signs, at random, seemingly coincidental times. I knew, toward the end of 2013 that beyond was my word for the next year, and that moving beyond my comfort zone was going to be crucial in 2014. How to do that, I wasn’t sure. And then I read about Lu Ann Cahn and her year of new experiences and knew that the way was being shown to me.

Michael Singer describes how to know when we approach the edges of our comfort zone….we feel discomfort. His example explains that a dog contained within an invisible electrical fence learns how close he can get to that barrier before he feels the mild zap of electricity. He learns to back up enough so that he doesn’t feel the discomfort, thus remaining within the confines of his yard. In the same way, when I approach the edges of my comfort zone, I feel the sting of discomfort and back up just enough to remove the feeling. The dog won’t die from the experience, if he chooses to put up with the momentary discomfort and charge through the barrier. If he can do that, he knows freedom. I won’t die either from discomfort, if I will move through that momentary rush of fear, or the dread of embarrassment, or the risk of failure. And I too will know freedom.

My comfort zone keeps me contained as surely as the electrical fence does the dog. I can choose to spend my life within my comfort zone, or I can free myself. The day I decided to push against the barriers of my comfort zone was the day I began to grow, the new daily experiences leading me to opportunities and joy, and through fear and doubt. I realized the confinement I lived within was constructed by me, with the intention of keeping me safe.  I could walk out at any time, moving past the pang of discomfort. And move beyond, I did.

Today, listening to this chapter, I looked at how much I have grown since first stepping beyond. I can feel the openness within me, feel how my soul has expanded, appreciate the quiet within my mind.  I also saw where I have pushed through and yet now rest, paused in front of new barriers, feeling pretty comfortable again.  Amazing insights welled up, along with fresh perspectives on my journey, which is what this year is all about. It’s time to push beyond again. And again.

I am grateful for the book club, which provided an opportunity for reflection and renewed energy to keep growing, keep going, beyond the edges of my comfort zone, beyond the edges of my limitations. I am going….far, far beyond.

Journey 97: Secrets of the Heart

untethered soul heart open

It was Book Club night again! How I appreciate this wonderful group of ladies who are willing to share and look within their souls, ask questions and grow. We covered chapters 6 and 7 this evening, titled “The Secrets of the Spiritual Heart” and “Transcending the Tendency to Close”.

Although the entire book is life changing, I love these two chapters especially, as they reveal the phenomenal power that the heart has to open and stay in a place of love and growth….or close and allow energy to become blocked, creating problems in life. I had time to re-read chapter 6, in preparation for the club meeting. And as I drove around town showing property I listened to chapter 7 on Audible, on my phone. It is amazing the difference in reading the words myself, and hearing the words read. Different truths and “ahas” stand out when I am listening, so much so that I often believe the audio edition has words included that are not in the book. I’ve checked many times….the book and the recording are identical.

Reading The Secrets of the Spiritual Heart opens my heart even more with each pass through the chapter. Michael Singer shares that the heart “is one of the most beautiful and powerful energy centers, and one that affects our daily lives. An energy center is an area within your being through which your energy focuses, distributes and flows. The heart controls the energy flow by opening and closing.”

My heart is open and energy is flowing easily and readily when I am experiencing love and being present in the moment. When something happens, for example, someone says something to me that I dislike, my heart closes, and the flow of love stops. My initial reaction is that I no longer like that person, at least, in that moment. The truth is, all through our lives, from our babyhood on, we have been experiencing situations that hurt us and cause us to close our hearts, over and over again. That energy doesn’t go away though. It gets stuck, in the region of the heart, and because energy must move, it circles around and around. We can push that looping energy away, to the back of our awareness, and there is stays….until something triggers that old hurt, that old fear, that old energy. Then the old but still very real energy, which tries to pass through the heart energy center again, is felt and experienced, creating the same emotions that the original hurt or fear caused. Until that energy is at last released, let go, it will continue to be felt anytime a similar experience triggers it.

One only has to be out and about in Joplin, when the tornado sirens sound, to immediately see this truth in action. That energy of fear that occurred as a result of the 2011 tornado gets triggered by the sound of the sirens wailing. The fear stirs and people react, big time. That has been true for me as well. I am still working through those layers of energy, releasing the fear, allowing it to pass through, each time the sirens sound or a severe weather alert appears on the tv. Currently, I experience a mild anxiety, felt more as restlessness, whenever the weather gets severe. I hope to eventually react in an alert, yet calm way, without fear, without anxiety, without that “flight or fight” surge of adrenaline.

Transcending the Tendency to Close is a wonderful chapter that teaches exactly what the title says….moving past, growing past, the tendency to close at all. Two experiences cause the heart to close: resisting and pushing energies away because we are bothered by them, or clinging to energies and keeping them close because they make us feel good. In both cases, we aren’t allowing the energy to pass through and we are wasting precious energy by blocking the flow, rather than just enjoying life.

Closing down is a way of trying to protect the heart from further hurt, further fear. The problem is, if the heart is closed down, all energy has a difficult time getting in or out. Closed is closed. Our joy is limited even as our pain is limited or confined. Singer points out that to be closed is to stop growing. He shares, “Once you close, you have to make sure that what you protected doesn’t get disturbed. You then carry this task for the rest of your life. The alternative…is to give yourself the ultimate gift by deciding not to do that anymore.”

I gift myself by watching what causes me to want to close….and stopping myself from doing that by relaxing and opening my shoulders and heart area and letting the energy pass through. And by being aware of what triggers old energy. I admit handling the triggers is much more difficult. I tend to want to react, and wallow in the old energy, the old hurt…rather than allow the energy to be felt, to be experienced again and then allow it to pass through. I am learning. And trust me, life brings plenty of opportunities for learning and growing, opening and releasing.

Michael Singer says, “The reward for not protecting the psyche is liberation. You are free to walk through this world without a problem on your mind. You are just having fun, experiencing what happens next.” Imagine, not allowing anything to cause a closure of the heart, a restriction of energy. That is what I desire, to stay open, and never close. To allow love and joy to flow through me, filling up and lighting up my heart, and then flowing out to touch those around me….without ceasing. That is experiencing life…and finding freedom, indeed.
untethered soul pic

Journey 34: The Untethered Soul

Untethered Soul

The book club I am part of started a new book this evening, The Untethered Soul, by Michael A. Singer. I am thrilled about this opportunity to read through the book again, and discuss it with the thoughtful and lively ladies who participate in the club.

The Untethered Soul is one of the books that shifted my life dramatically a couple of years ago, when I read it for the first time. The description of the book, from the back cover, states:

What would it be like to be free from limitations and soar beyond your boundaries? What can you do each day to find this kind of inner peace and freedom? The Untethered Soul offers a simple, profoundly intuitive answer to these questions. Whether this is your first exploration of inner space or you’ve devoted your life to the inward journey, this book will transform your relationship with yourself and the world around you.

The Untethered Soul begins by walking you through your relationship with your thoughts and emotions, helping you uncover the source and fluctuations of your inner energy. It then delves into what you can do to free yourself from the habitual thoughts, emotions, and energy patterns that limit your consciousness. Finally, with perfect clarity, this book opens the door to a life lived in the freedom of your innermost being. (I highlighted the two words that are so important to me this year!)

Those paragraphs certainly intrigued me two years ago. I was ready to be free from limitations, ready to move beyond my boundaries. I knew the journey I most needed to take first was an inner one, and that can be a scary road to travel, alone. Michael A. Singer was my traveling companion on this important trek. His chapters on energy are some of the best I’ve ever read. Suddenly, so many things clicked into place and made sense. Such as why certain things trigger a reaction from me. Why I used to protect my heart area, or chakra, so much, even sitting with a pillow on my lap to make me feel more secure. As I moved purposefully through this book, old energy that had long been trapped in the region of my heart came to the surface, painfully sometimes, and I was able to set it free. It is a continuing process, this untethering.

My word last year, Beyond, first came into my awareness as I read this book. There is a whole section of the book on moving beyond, which became the name of my blog about my own journey of moving beyond my limitations and my comfort zone. It was with great anticipation that I delved back into the first two chapters, in preparation for the book club meeting tonight. Michael first focuses attention on the thoughts and dialogues that are constantly circling in the mind. It was good for me to be reminded that I am not my thoughts and that the mind seeks always to control and to keep safe, at the cost of freedom, peace and joy. It will be wonderful to slowly read through this fascinating book again and see where I have grown since my last reading. Already, a couple of things stood out.

One came to my attention this evening, as I was looking at the cover of the book before our meeting started. The subtitle of the book is the journey beyond yourself. I realized that last year’s word beyond and this year’s word journey are right there, together. Interesting! I had to get beyond my fears and limitations, my comfort zone and safe spaces, before I could really journey this year, in a way that is unencumbered. Then, as we discussed chapter one this evening, I suddenly saw these sentences about awareness: The one inside who is aware that you are always talking to yourself about yourself is always silent. [Realization] is a doorway to the depths of your being. To be aware that you are watching the voice talk is to stand on the threshold of a fantastic inner journey.

There they were, my keys words for this year….journey….doorway…and the amazing visual of standing on the threshold. I choose to pass through that doorway, and step over that threshold. The journey will take me deeper this year, deeper into myself, deeper into the Divine, deeper into life. I am excited to have Michael A. Singer again, as a traveling companion. I am grateful also for the company of the five extraordinary women, all seekers as well, who are sharing in this journey. Oh, the places we will go.

untethered soul crossing the threshold