“How can we touch and live in expanded consciousness? What are the obstacles inherent in the human predicament, and how can we let them go?” Michael Singer is practical. This is how it is. Do you see what happens when you don’t accept reality? How can I help you see? To be free?

As we move from autumn through the long nights and bright lights of winter solstice and the holiday season, we’re going to explore freedom together. I first became aware of Michael Singer in 2012 on my long road trip moving from western Canada to Nova Scotia, where I now live. I listened to The Untethered Soul twice on that trip. Now with his new book Living Untethered, we are invited back into Michael’s wisdom, insights and challenges.

Why Can’t Things Be the Way I Want Them To Be?

We are in the habit of insisting and demanding things be the way we want, even if it’s irrational.

Things are the way they are because of all of the influences that made them that way. We are not going to change many of the conditions in our life by complaining about them. What we can do is work on changing our reactions to reality, instead of fighting with reality.

Michael Singer suggests we begin to work with accepting reality with low-hanging fruit, the minor irritations in daily life. He takes the weather as an example. The weather has nothing to do with you. It has to do with the forces that are causing it to be the way it is.

Using somatic mindfulness inquiry, we can look more deeply into why we respond as we do to things that are beyond our control.

What does weather stimulate in you? We might feel afraid during storms and feel a sense of impending doom. What would happen to us if we were out in the elements, unprotected? We might freeze to death in winter. We could drown in a flood. The roof of our house could blow off. Some of our reactions to “bad” weather are from our nervous system and brain trying to alert us to possible danger. We can fall into catastrophic worst-case scenario thinking and get really hooked or we might be able to notice and let it go more easily.

Fear of dangerous weather makes sense, but what about how we feel blessed and happy when it’s sunny? There is a biological basis for this. Our bodies feel safer during “good” or predictable weather. Food grows in sunshine and moderate weather conditions so we’re conditioned to feel more secure. 

Do you take the weather personally? Does it feel like life is “on your side” when you have good weather on a holiday or a special day, or that life is against you when it doesn’t align with what you prefer? The universe does not arrange its weather pattern to either punish or reward us. It’s not a sign of bad luck if it rains, or good luck if it’s sunny. Our cognitive mind knows this.

If we look deeper, what else is here?

What does it reflect back to and about you? Does it remind you of other times and circumstances when your needs were not considered and you were powerless to change something?

Sit with this as a somatic mindfulness practice, noticing the sensations and feelings in your body as well as thoughts in your mind. Practice ongoing mindfulness and keep track so you notice when you are grumbling about something in your head. What’s going on? Partly this is a habit that we can become aware of and let go of. The weather is as it is. It’s not personal. There’s nothing I can do about it (short term) and I can work with my reactions to it.

Start with relatively easy stuff as a practice as you are training yourself to deal with yourself. Michael calls one chapter Low-hanging fruit, and in a way it is. These are minor compared to some painful situations in our lives, yet they can be deeply challenging. What are some other everyday annoyances?

Slow, aggressive or rude drivers provide lots of opportunity to work with our reactivity and our heartfelt conviction that “it should not be the way it actually is”. We resist that we can’t control what other drivers do. 

I drive home along a twisty two lane road where there is one brief opportunity to pass in the entire fifteen minute drive. When I get behind someone driving slowly, I remind myself that this gives me time to look at the beautiful scenery. I practice deep breathing and relaxing my shoulders. And some people pull over to let faster drivers pass. Bonus!

There are many reasons people drive more slowly that we would like, and our impatience doesn’t override their right to choose how fast they drive.

Aggressive and rude drivers can activate fear and anger. Being tailgated by someone who wants us to move out of the way can cause an accident. It is dangerous and we legitimately respond to that. 

We don’t always know the background. Years ago I was driving home from the mountains on a holiday weekend and the traffic was congested coming back into the city. In my rearview, I could see a jeep driving on the shoulder, and some people honking at them. Some cars even pulled out a bit to block their way. When the jeep passed me, I could see a very pregnant woman in the back who was clearly in labor. That changed my assessment of the situation from “entitled jerks” to understanding and compassion. 

As we lessen the habit of thinking life should arrange itself in a different way, we find we are more at peace inside. It’s not healthy to feed this habit, and it’s a relief as it loosens its grip on us. The situation resolves simply by letting go inside. If we accept the weather, there is nothing else to do about it. Our reactions are the problem, and that can’t be solved outside, only inside.

We relax and release back into our seat of consciousness, and witness the part of us who is complaining. The practice of letting go of smaller irritations helps us deepen spiritually, and build the resilience and strength that we need in life.

Join us in our community class Sunday 10AM Eastern or Insight Timer Live at 11:30AM. In our community class at 10AM, we inquire then break into smaller groups to explore together. Links here.

Would you prefer to listen? You can do that here on Medium.

I Can’t Predict or Control What is Going to Happen, from a Sunday class
I Can’t Control the Future, Guided Inquiry
Living Untethered
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