Book Review: The Untethered Soul

Collection of answers that people might have been asking for long

7 min readMay 25, 2020
Photo by Colton Duke on Unsplash

I have just completed reading The Untethered Soul by Jefferson A. Singer and I would say that this book is amazing. It is very light yet enlightening, and it makes me less skeptical about the concept of Chi/Cakra/Inner Energy within the human body. Previously, those concepts are sort of vague for me — I don’t know why. But through this book, I have found the answers to the question that I’ve been asking all the time.

Have you ever wondered why the voice inside your head keeps going on and on?

Yes, I have. That voice has never shut up. It keeps telling me about the things that I just see, the assumption that I made, what I’m feeling today. “I’ve really had a bad day today. My presentation failed. My boss yelled at me. I really failed this project.” Which leads to another follow-up voice, “Have you ever been better at work? Why do you screw everything?” Those voices somehow become destroying and it leads to another self-blaming session. However, if we think thoroughly about the inner voice, actually it is merely a voice. We give the voice a meaning, then it turns to a sword that stabs us. It’s almost impossible to shut the voice up. So, what are we going to do?

“The best way to free yourself from this incessant chatter is to step back and view it objectively.”

In other words, acceptance is the main key to free yourself from the 24/7 non-stop inner voice. ‘Step back’ means that we take our time, take a breath, and not to rush to give meaning (judge) to everything that happens around us. Allowing the inner voice to talk and come into ourselves, accept the energy. “View it objectively” means that we are just there and see the event just like it is. If we were sad, we view it as a sad moment, not as something that happens because of our failure. It’s not easy to implement, but in case you’re off-track, just remember to breathe.

Why happiness and sadness are both contagious?

I used to wonder why some people could radiate a different impression when I see them for the first time. Just search for photos of Dai Lama on Google and the first impression that you get is someone who is calm and gives a sense of tranquility. Otherwise, you can recognize someone, perhaps family or friends, that are depressed or sad, just by looking at their face. How people could transmit different energy? Is the inner energy real and similar to the concept of external energy, the thing that we learned in Physics? In fact, they hold a similar concept. Yet, the source energy is coming from inside, not from the external energy, such as food. No wonder some people could do something beyond their capabilities and make people surprised.

“Just as everything that happens outside in the physical world requires energy, everything that happens inside requires an expenditure of energy.”

When we’re feeling happy or something exciting is upon us, we are showered by positive energy, or in ancient Chinese medicine, it’s called Chi. Everything looks beautiful and something that usually annoyed us becomes nothing. We’re feeling inspired and every minute is an exciting experience. What’s more, our positivity even could affect other people and make them excited as we are. Our heart is open and loaded by those energies.

Otherwise, when we’re feeling down or something bothers us, we tend to close our hearts, our mind, and draw ourselves from the uncomfortable event. It’s normal because it’s part of the human self-defense mechanism. We don’t want to get hurt further so we protect our hearts by closing them. However, without us knowing, by closing our hearts, we actually block the flow of positive energy to come in and prevent the negative energy to flow out. That explains why people are sinking in darkness when they are depressed or grieving.

“At first it feels unnatural since your innate tendency is to close as a means of protection. But closing your heart does not really protect you from anything; it just cuts you off from your source of energy. In the end, it only serves to lock you inside.”

So, how do we open the heart even though we are in pain? The answer is simple. Remind ourselves to relax. Take a deep breath, hold, and let them out. If you feel like you want to cry, just let it out. Accept the sadness, the pain, all those mixed feelings and we just did meditation. In the end, we will realize that opening your heart is actually healing and it’s the starting point of our journey to find real freedom from pain.

Photo by Rhendi Rukmana on Unsplash

Why are we being told to “Live in the Present”?

At first, we need to understand how humans sense the world. Let’s take an example of how our vision works. Humans see things, convert the information that they receive from their eyes into the language that the brain understands, transmit the data through nerves, and the brain interprets the information — Oh, it’s a tree. There you are, seeing a beautiful tree in front of you.

Then, let’s add more information about that tree. That is a tree in which you met your ex-partner for the first time. But, you are not together anymore now. You broke up last year on bad terms and you clearly remembered the pain that you felt on that day. So now, can you see the tree the way it is? Perhaps not. That tree is different because it has an unfinished past experience of yours.

“Different experiences happen inside because of how you take in and digest the world as it passes through you.”

The unfinished business in the past is a sign that your heart still keeps that energy, specifically in the place called Samskara. When the stored energy gets stimulated, Samskara reactivated everything that you previously experienced — the scene, feeling, conversation, just as watch the old film. Now you know that you are still living in the past and this energy still blocks you to enjoy the good life. Therefore, living in the present is advised so people could let go of the negative stored energy, instead of resisting it. Allow the experience to come in as it is and if the pain comes back, accept and release it by breathing. Believe that people will enjoy and acknowledge their beautiful life once they get to live in the present.

Why do most people search for happiness?

Because it’s hard to be happy and life is not always under our control. We probably often heard this quote, “We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps. — Proverbs 16:9)” Yes, it’s a bible quote but despite the religion, I guess every people could relate that people are basically weak at controlling their environment. Too much variable in this world which could generate infinite possibilities of life events, including your success and failure. Just looking at COVID-19 in 2020 and you already know the answer that no one could predict that this is going to happen.

“Things are going to happen to you, and you’re going to feel the tendency to close. But you have the choice to either go with it or let it go. Your mind will tell you that it’s not reasonable to stay open when these things happen. But you have limited time left in your life, and what’s really not reasonable is to not enjoy life.”

We are born as a human to make a living and human is inseparable from suffering and death. So, the question now is which path do we want to choose? To cherish or suffer life? I believe everyone definitely chooses the first option. The three main ingredients that I have gathered from this book to live happier based on this book:

  1. Enjoy every moment
  2. Cheers setback as a learning opportunity
  3. Let go of all the pain, release not resist— just like Elsa

Why were humans born to die?

We are a human living in this world in a limited time and this limitation actually makes our life more meaningful. If we are eternal, what does make this world meaningful? Constant suffering and happiness just make us bored, just like eating your favorite food for 30 consecutive days could make you throw up. Turns out, death is a blessing disguised in the dark that the universe gives to make our life significant. Death is an implied reminder for the people to enjoy each moment of their life with their loved ones, with something that they enjoy and cherish.

“Death is not a morbid thought. Death is the greatest teacher in all of life.”

If we only have 1 week left to live in this world, what are we going to do? Probably, we will list all the important things that you might not want to miss before we left the world. We want to seize every moment with the experience that is worth living so we don’t have any regret when we die. That’s how this book has told us to do so to create this meaningful life. I would say advice by wise men to “live like today is your last day” is not a bad idea. Live gratefully for every time we have in this world. It’s precious.