The Untethered Soul is one of those books I’ve taken with me on a few trips (I brought it to Bali two years in a row) but I’ve never actually finished the whole book. I always end up reading a few paragraphs and then taking time to sit and think about each concept for so long that I need to revisit the rest later.
Today, to my glee, I saw that it was on Blinkist, which allows you to listen to a summary of an audiobook in about 15 minutes.
I listened to it while walking through Brooklyn, on my way home from the grocery store.
There was one part that stood out to me more than the others. It was about the “Tao,” or “the middle way.” According to the book, it represents the balance of yin and yang, the feminine and the masculine, the dark and the light.
From the Blinkist version of the book:
“Why do people fail at their new year’s resolutions? It’s often because they don’t find the right balance between what they want and what they can realistically achieve.
The Tao Te Ching, one of the world’s most profound spiritual teachings, holds that there’s a way (or Tao) between extremes, and it leads to the best result.”
“When we lose our way from this balanced path, we also lose a lot of energy.“
And if we stick to a path between extremes, we’ll “have more energy, and life will be simpler, too.”
The book talks about the extremes of doing and non-doing, and how we need to have a balance of the two in order to feel the most energy.
We can’t be in constant action all the time, and we can’t be in constant stillness with no action all the time.
I couldn’t help but think about how the city we live in can be either optimizing for our energy state or draining. I’ve been thinking about this a lot as I get ready to leave my home base in NYC, where I’ve lived for 10 years, and set up a new home base in San Diego (at least for now).
One of the biggest reasons I’m doing this is because I want to balance out my energy a bit more. I can be a somewhat intense person, and NYC (arguably being the most intense city in the US, and the high cost of living means you live in more “intense” small quarters) amplifies that energy and can make me feel overstimulated and run down when I’ve been in the city for a few weeks. It totally throws me out of balance. I didn’t feel this way 10 years ago, the energy of this city really did support me fully. It matched me back then. But as this book says, “When I took the time to listen hard enough, I could hear the subtle ticking of a clock inside my body, gently telling me to leave.”
I figured, if I take my intense little self and live in the most relaxed city in the US, that’s gotta balance out my energy field a little better and keep things a bit more energized for now. Right!? I mean, that’s my rationale, and I think it’s at least worth a try. ;) You all know I love a good experiment.
Can you think of any areas of your life that are throwing you out of balance? Are you living in one extreme or another?
In general, I’m not a big fan of the word “balance” for everything – I think a little extreme is good sometimes (i.e. doing a challenge, doing an experiment with cutting out certain foods altogether that might be making you sick or unhappy, etc). In fact, I wrote a blog called Is Everything In Moderation Actually Good For You? where I challenge the “balanced, everything in moderation” approach.
But this concept is a little different. It’s not about everything in moderation, it’s more about seeing where you’re swinging so far to one side that your energy is completely out of balance.
And looking at the way we live our everyday life is a good place to start. Something as foundational as the city we live in and the environment we create for ourselves really does have a strong energy field. A place or setup may support you for awhile, but you have to pay attention to if/when that changes, and begin to experiment and shift.
Food for thought.
Have you read The Untethered Soul? What was your favorite takeaway from it?
And more importantly, have you tried Blinkist yet!?