About a year ago, I had my first brush with mindfulness. I read an article about “who to follow on Instagram” (of all things) and they suggested some super-awesome yogis (like Kathryn Budig, Gypset Goddess, Tara Stiles, & the incomparable Kino MacGregor) and this skinny, happy-looking blonde lady named Gabrielle Bernstein.
I think they described her as a “life coach,” which immediately made me roll my eyes. But, hey, I was a newbie to Instagram and thought I would give her a shot. Impress me, I challenged her. That ego-driven version of myself had no idea what she was in for.
The moment I clicked and started scrolling through her feed, my life changed like the flip of a switch. I know that sounds awfully melodramatic, and of course I didn’t realize it at the time, but in that moment I began to shift my thinking about the world (which Gabby would consider a miracle). Her message was so simple yet so powerful: only love is real. She wasn’t a weirdo mystic-type person, not a “guru” or a zen master. She was genuine. And accessible. And honest about her own struggles and how she came to live a life of mindfulness and joy. And I was hooked. I spent hours reading through every post on Instagram, immediately “friended” her on Facebook, and moseyed on over to Amazon where I purchased three of her books. Because why start with just one, right?! I was all-in. I wanted all of it. I realized I was thirsty for this message, this simple beautiful message full of positivity and light and wanted to know her secret. I took to my own Instagram to champion my new friend. I started sharing her posts on Facebook. I started declaring myself a “Spirit Junkie,” as her tribe affectionately refers to themselves. The more I read, the more I felt an overwhelming sense of serenity. Was it really this simple? To get up every day and choose to see the world through a positive lens? To expect miracles? It was almost too good to be true — in retrospect, I realize that I was cautiously dipping my toe in the mindfulness waters, absolutely sure that I was interpreting her message incorrectly. It couldn’t possibly be that easy. But day after day I realized that waking up every morning and asking the universe, “Where would you have me go today? What would you have me do today? What would you have me say today? And to who?” and then truly listening to my inner guide as I got the answers I was seeking was really working for me! It was the beginning of my spiritual transformation. It coincided (and I hate to use that word because I think it was more serendipity than coincidence) with my yoga practice becoming more important and sacred to me, and I truly felt like I was… waking up. Slowly but surely, I was awakening to this new existence — and realizing it had always been there. I just didn’t know how to access it before (which is basically the point of two of my favorite stories: The Wizard of Oz and Alice in Wonderland). Gabby was the catalyst. And I was so, so grateful for the miracle that led me to her.
The very first lesson from the very first book of hers that I randomly picked up, May Cause Miracles (although it just as easily could have been Add More ~ing to Your Life or Spirit Junkie, since the message is the same), was about paying attention to the things you think and do every day that block you from a life of miracles. When you default to negative assumptions (“I’ll never get that job, that man, that promotion, that body, etc.,”) you block yourself from receiving blessings. When you adopt the “expect the worst but hope for the best” mentality, you’ve already lost. Gabby explained that most of us live an ego-driven life (where ego literally means “fear”) and for some reason, we resist the joy. We focus on the “what ifs” and waste so much of our time and energy worrying about outcomes over which we have no control. And when I got serious about this mindfulness business, I realized that I was throwing up blocks in every area of my life. I was living in ego, not joy. So I made a list of “I block myself when…” and it was very, very long. And, at first, that depressed me! I almost felt like I had lost before I even started. How could I possibly remove ALL of those blocks? With work, relationships, perceived failures and shortcomings in all areas of my life? But some subtle shifts in my thinking was all it took before these blocks started falling like dominoes. And once they started to fall, it was like an avalanche. Mind over matter, as they say. And I’m not going to lie — this didn’t happen overnight. This happened over the course of about 8 months of journaling, contemplation, meditating, and a genuine awareness of my thoughts and actions. Consciously stepping away from ego and into the light.
And here’s what I learned: You have to live every day expecting miracles. Little miracles, like finding the perfect seashell. Big miracles, like landing your dream job. Look for them & you will find them. Expect them and you will see them everywhere. Once you start seeing them, you can’t unsee them. They are guiding you. They are waiting for you. We were created to experience them. We’re supposed to be living in a state of joy! As Dr. Wayne Dyer reminds us, joy is our natural state! We can’t live a positive life with a negative mind. It really is that simple.
I challenge you to give it some thought. How are you blocking yourself? And this isn’t a one-time-only exercise. You have to be mindful of these blocks every. damn. day. I have to journal about this very thing on a daily basis. But here’s the thing: that in and of itself is a miracle. My “block-detecting” skills are ever-growing and I’m now able to see these blocks as they happen. I’ve retrained my brain to recognize when I’m standing in my own way. A miraculous shift, indeed. Bring on the miracles, universe! I know you have great things in store for me. One of my favorite Gabby-isms (borrowed from A Course In Miracles) is “Those who are certain of the outcome can afford to wait, and wait without anxiety.” Why stress about things when I know the universe has my back? Why block myself from wonderful, once-in-a-lifetime experiences? All I need to do is shift my perception & live in joy. It sounds fabulous, doesn’t it?! Well… it’s waiting for you!
So yes, it’s simple. But no, it’s not easy. Living a life of miracles requires work. Shifting your perceptions and defaulting to positivity takes effort. But oh, it’s so worth it. To paraphrase my guru (yes, I now consider her a guru), the ego speaks first, speaks the loudest, and is ALWAYS wrong. Take the time to listen — really listen — to your inner guide. Don’t let fear take the driver’s seat in your life. Throw those blocks to the curb. Live in joy.
Sat nam, my friends.