Recently, I enjoyed an email exchange with my friend and fellow spirituality blogger Evan Griffith, a person who thinks deeply and is deeply . . . alive. Just the kind of person I like having around, in other words. I needed some advice about when to say “yes” and when to say “maybe later.” Here is what he generously offered.
Mollie: I am having a hard time deciding which opportunities are yeses and which are nos. Some are a clear yes or no, while others are just things that come up and either sound good or don’t.
First question: Do I only do the things I have a clear yes or no about? Pray about everything and be ruthless about waiting for a clear yes before moving forward?
Evan: You get to the pithy heart of things, man.
My inclination is to tell you to only engage in the clear yeses.
I say this partly because of what I know of your life, and partly because you need to keep creating books, putting work out there. Only say yes to powerful projects that keenly interest you–and keep diving deep into your self challenges, sharing them with all of us.
Mollie: Second question: If I do decide to only go with the clear yeses, how do I locate new opportunities? Do I seek them out or do I just wait and let them come if they come? I have always thought it was a recipe for mediocrity and small-mindedness to not search and explore; it really, really limits what you are able to do with your life to just the things that, for example, a suburban mom runs across. There’s a whole world of stuff to do, and sometimes I have a nagging suspicion that I’m not doing as much as I could. On the other hand, I have a friend who is never seeking out the next big thing and she is very, very happy and very Zen. Desire is bad, remember? Buddhism? Byron Katie also says she never plans anything, really. She makes day-by-day plans and if they happen, great, and if they don’t, then that’s fine, too.
Evan: My take is that 1) you stay ready to seize new opportunities that you search out, while also 2) not expending a great deal of energy to do so.
Here’s how that might look: You challenge yourself to take on a project that expands you, one that is fully within your personal mission but also stretches your boundaries a bit. In this way you are continuing to create your life’s work–AND at the same time making connections beyond your immediate community. This allows you to reach out and Zen it, too. You can reach out as much or as little as each week allows.
P.S.: I’m in the camp who believes desire is good–that it’s only negative when you attach too strongly to any one particular path. Abraham Hicks/law of attraction ideas are to me a contemporary restating of the Tao– finding the path of least effort to what is most meaningful. This way you get to have desires and soul surf your way there–or to an approximation of there–or even somewhere you didn’t know was there until your soul surfing toward the original there took you there . . .
Mollie: Extra credit question: What about when I felt something was a clear yes, but then it didn’t turn out well at all? Was I wrong?
I often wonder about that, too. There are times when my clear yes worked out swimmingly, and there have been yes pathways taken that seemed to bear no fruit–or worse, sucked!
I don’t have an answer. Except in the sense of kaizen: continuous small changes or improvements toward a goal. In my understanding of kaizen, every undertaking leads you to greater understanding of what works and what doesn’t, what’s right for you and what isn’t. This clarity leads you to better experiments, better improvements, other small changes that can be made toward your ultimate goal.
I would add that enjoying this process like a scientist, where no answer is good or bad but simply an enlightening answer that allows for further inquiry, is the ultimate spiritual mode of living.
Contributor: Subhan Schenker, who runs the Osho World of Meditation in Seattle.
Mollie: When someone is fully enlightened, do they feel psychological pain?
Subhan: I have heard that enlightened people feel physical pain but not psychological pain. They may have some awareness that there is a mind that has pain, but it’s very far removed; the mind has dropped into the basement.
Mollie: What do you do when the mind makes a judgment and tries to nudge you—sometimes not so gently—to do something, change something, or at the very least, abhor something about yourself or your life, which then separates you from that feeling of connectedness?
In other words: How do we react to the monsters in our heads?
Subhan: You don’t. It’s not about getting rid of anything. It’s about watching, noticing what’s there. Becoming aware of how the mind functions is tremendously helpful. You’ll be able to experience how parts of the mind push and pull you; that there are so many judgments–about you, about everyone else, about everything! This watchfulness becomes more and more available. And the distance between “you” and the thoughts starts to grow.
Mollie: Where do the monsters go?
Subhan: Once this dis-identification starts happening, the thoughts aren’t perceived of as monsters. They are simply the way the mind functions, and they don’t have to be taken too seriously! They lose their power over you.
I can’t explain it. I can’t intellectualize it. You have to try it for yourself. When you have a thought you don’t like, notice it, remind yourself that it’s not you. I tell people to step back just one-twelfth of an inch from the mind. That doesn’t seem too hard, does it?
Mollie: I do that. It doesn’t always work.
Subhan: No, it doesn’t always work. The mind is tremendously powerful. It can process an unbelievable amount of data in a mere second. It is a miracle that we have the ability to step back from it at all. The only reason we are able to is that what is behind it is indestructible. And usually, we only obtain just a flash of true silence. Maybe for ten seconds you are in silence, and those ten seconds can be life-changing.
Mollie: Why is this the way it is? Why is it so hard to detach from mind, from pain? It doesn’t seem fair.
Subhan: Maybe awareness isn’t that cheap. Maybe awareness has to be earned.
The truth is, though, it’s hard because it’s hard. Because this is the nature of the mind. Asking “why?” is a game of the mind, the one it plays a million times a day. Why can’t I have this? Why can’t I do that? Why can’t I be there, feel that way?
D. H. Lawrence was a very intelligent man. One day he was walking with his nephew in the woods when his nephew asked: “Why are the leaves green?” Lawrence didn’t answer right away; instead, he thought about it for a time, wanting to give an answer that was the truth. Finally, he said, “I know the answer, but you are not going to like it. The leaves are green because they’re green.”
Your mind is not happy with this answer. But your inner being is.
The leaves are green because they’re green. Asking “why” leads to a never ending work game!
“They’re green because of chlorophyll.” But why does chlorophyll create GREEN? “Because of the chemical reaction in chlorophyll.” “But why does this chemical reaction create GREEN and not RED?”
(Once a children learn the “why” game, they can keep adults over a barrel forever!) Ultimately the only real answer we can give is that leaves are green…because they’re green…!
Mollie: So what about when you really do want to change something about yourself or your life? Maybe your life is going pretty well, and you already have a lot of what you want, but you would just like to tweak something just a bit. What next?
Subhan: Well, the first thing I’d say is to watch that desire. Notice your perceived need to change things. Ask yourself what this tweaking is all about. That desire is the mind, and by accepting its ideas, you’re identifying yourself with it. But the truth is, you are not your mind. You are much bigger, much grander than it, and within the real you there is no idea of “lacking.”
What is the point in identifying with a lacking? Don’t. Don’t allow there to be a split between the reality of the person you are and the ideal of the person you want to be. Because whenever you have something called the ideal, you will be in conflict with the real. And if you’re in conflict with the real, you will never arrive. There will never be a time when the mind doesn’t want something different, or something more. Never. So, it’s better to sacrifice the ideal for the real!
Mollie: Then how do we ever change anything, do anything, get anything done? If we’re all perfectly content with things just as they are, won’t we end up sitting around and meditating all day like you?
Subhan: I don’t meditate all day. I am in constant contact with people. I do counseling sessions. I write. I teach classes at the college. I lead four meditation sessions a week at our center. I do numerous weekend workshops.
You see, the mind tells us that if we stop listening to it, and stop being in conflict, we won’t get anything done. But all you have to do is look at the great spiritual masters to see that isn’t true. Buddha, Lao Tzu, Christ, Rumi … They all accomplished a lot and many things change around them.
Subhan: When I am in acceptance of who I am, Existence does the changing!
Mollie: How? Let me slow down and look at this process you’re talking about because there’s obviously something I’m not getting here. So, there you are in a state of meditation, disidentified with the mind, blissed out. Then the mind comes up with another judgment—say, “My child is misbehaving, and I want him to stop.” This is the moment we’re really talking about—the moment that repeats itself all throughout the day. This is when you decide to either reidentify with the mind and become the one who is judging, or to not accept the judgment, and just notice it instead. But when you decide to just notice the judgment, isn’t that also a decision the mind is making?
Subhan: No. I don’t decide. We are part of an Intelligence so vast our minds are useless compared to it. When we are in a state of meditation, it is not our minds that do the deciding, but this Intelligence within us.
Mollie: But if you don’t use your mind, how do you speak? How do you carry out the instruction of this Intelligence—say, to hug the child, or to correct them, or to comfort them?
Subhan: For verbal and physical responses like these, you do use the mind and body. They are tools that allow us to be part of the physical world—to speak, to move our bodies. The key is to respond rather than to react. When you react to your child rather than responding, you’re not using your mind; it’s using you.
Mollie: Ah, I see. So you can still speak, talk, respond to the situation without using your mind to do so? Maybe we are defining mind differently. So there is the mind that’s the ego, the monster, the monkey, the neuroses, and there is the mind that’s a simple, useful tool, a tool we use to translate what is going on in our larger Intelligence? And so is the body, when we hug the child rather than yelling at him?
Subhan: Yes, that’s right. The mind is a fabulous tool … but a crappy boss!
Mollie: So how does a spiritual seeker, someone who is committed to becoming disidentified with the mind, make this switch? In that moment when the child is so-called misbehaving, how does she learn how not to react as the mind would like and to instead suspend thinking, then receive and act upon Intelligence, all without using her mind? This sounds like quite the skill. How does she learn how to accept a situation she finds unpleasant, without “making it into a problem,” as Eckhart Tolle says?
Subhan: Meditation. Meditation that really works, really functions, allows you to, for a moment, to be completely separated from the mind. This doesn’t happen overnight! So it’s best to start with simpler things and situations. Practice watching the thoughts whenever you remember to do so, in simple settings that aren’t triggering emotions and control issues, etc. You slowly build up the knack of watching – in your meditation, in simple situations, and then, ultimately in more “difficult” situations.
Mollie: Then what?
Subhan: Then, acceptance comes. And wisdom comes, the wisdom that is right for that moment.
Mollie: Then what? I will ask it again: How do we end up getting what we want out of life, if we’re always just listening to Intelligence and doing whatever it tells us to do?
Subhan: We try to force Existence to give us what we want, but this is ridiculous, totally futile. It’s like we’re playing the greatest cosmic joke on ourselves: We are buddhas, capable of extraordinary things, even peace and enlightenment, and instead we’re acting unconsciously. We pretend to have all kinds of self-imposed limitations, including a mind that has no clue what to do most of the time, that’s creating many more problems than it’s solving. It is our nature to be a buddha. Anything else is going against the flow. To paraphrase Osho: “The miracle is not when we obtain enlightenment. The miracle is when we conceal it.”
Mollie: So if we want to be truly happy and free of mind, we have to let Intelligence give us what it deems best for us, no matter what that may be?
Subhan: That sounds like the mind talking, not wanting to give up its control to a higher intelligence that resides within us. One we step back from the mind, it loses its control and the intelligence is THERE, waiting to be of immense service!
I tell people to ask for 100 percent of what they want, then let the Universe decide, because it will!
Mollie: So would you say that the main purpose of meditation is to teach us acceptance of whatever the Universe deems best for us?
Subhan: The purpose of meditation is to disidentify with the mind. Acceptance comes naturally after that.
Mollie: Then what? What happens after acceptance?
Subhan: Acceptance and gratitude, and peacefulness and fulfillment become real once there is the disidentification from the mind. I had an early experience of this before I became a meditator. I didn’t know it at the time, but I had dropped into meditation. When I was a young man I was driving my mother’s car when it slipped on some ice. In the ten seconds between starting to slide and hitting the car in front of me, I had my first experience of the meditative state. The mind understood that there was nothing it could do, no role for it to play in that moment, and it said, “I’m out of here. You’re on your own.” Those ten seconds felt like an hour. They were bliss. And the silence was so serene, so “palpable!”
Then I hit the car, and the mind said, “Oh, I can deal with this.” And it started in again: “What is your mother going to say, how much is this going to cost,” etc. It was much later that I realized that when the mind disappeared, something extraordinary emerged. And later still, it became clear that this space had something to do with an essential nature that is always there, although covered by the minds overthinking.
Mollie: I see. And yes, that bliss is what I want. But should I make it a life goal of mine to obtain it? Should happiness be something I strive for? Because it seems the more you try to get happy, the more neurotic you become.
Subhan: You’re right! Anything you desire is a product of the mind. And it will create misery around it. Do not make happiness a goal. In fact, do not make anything a goal. All goals keep you stuck in the mind. Life will give you what you truly need.
Mollie: So—and I realize that I’m really trying to pin you down here—would you say that if I practice meditation regularly, and practice living in a state of meditation and acceptance, I will certainly become happy?
Subhan: I will say that if you stay with it, there is every possibility that you will have more moments of feeling loving, feeling grateful, feeling at peace. And that’s assuming that you are doing a meditation that works for you. Because as I said, a lot of people are doing meditation techniques that don’t really work for them.
Also, be really careful because the mind that asks that question is more interested in the goal than the process. As long as you have a goal to your meditation it will keep you locked in your mind, evaluating whether or not your meditation session was “successful.” Every time the meditation happens the mind will judge it based on whether or not it has achieved that goal. The mind is very crafty. Instead, be there sincerely, without the notion of getting somewhere.
The mind doesn’t want you to be happy. How many times have you experienced a moment of joy and the mind has tried to throw you out of it, using every complaint, seeing every shortcoming, predicting every future bad result it could?
The mind doesn’t want you to be happy, because if you are it is no longer needed.
Mollie: And how long will it take for me to get there? How much meditation would you recommend that I do?
Subhan: There is no way for anyone to know that. There is no formula to it. It is a quantum leap. But after a while, you will notice that you don’t take life so seriously, that you have moments of greater clarity, and that you even feel more gratitude, just for being alive. These are clues that the meditation process is working.
Mollie: Is just meditating and noticing the workings of the mind enough? Is there anything else I need to do?
Subhan: Watching the mind is essential. But you can also find people on this path of discovery who can share their experiences and understandings with you. They offer workshops and sessions that can be of great assistance to you in coming back to your inner, essential nature!
Mollie: No mantras? I love my mantras.
Subhan: If you enjoy mantras, then use them! Some mantras can help you go deeper inside. Just remember, the point of meditation is to disassociate yourself from the mind.
Just watch the mind. A thought comes, and you watch it. Nothing more. This is the only real meditation. Saying mantras may be a good and helpful practice, but it may not lead you to the state of meditation, which is awareness, relaxation and no judgment.
Now, let me ask you a question. Have you had enough of what you don’t want yet?
Mollie: I would have to give that some thought.
Subhan: If you have to think about it, you haven’t. When someone is being physically tortured, and they’re asked if they’ve had enough yet, there is not a single instant of reflection. The answer is yes.
Mollie: That is true. I am getting there.
Subhan: I would hope you get there as fast as you can.
Several years ago, I decided to keep an eating journal, partly as an attempt to lose weight I didn’t need to lose. I recorded the times I binged and the days I starved, and one day, I had a moment of truth.
Holy crap, I realized. I have an eating disorder.
It was the first time I knew for sure that it was true.
Not long after that, I joined a recovery group for food addicts in an honest, committed way and started on the path to recovery. Then, a few years later, something happened that I can only describe as a miracle: The day before my birthday, right in the midst of yet another evening binge, I decided to do something very special for myself: I decided to give up overeating—and not just overeating, but dieting, fasting, counting calories, counting carbs—even using artificial sweeteners.
I decided to finally be sane.
As it turned out, it was the best birthday gift I’d ever received. Since that day, I have not binged or overeaten to the point of discomfort even once—and as a result, today I am thinner than I was before. Every pair of pants that I own fits me every day, but better than that: I like the way I look—I really, really like it. I like my soft curves. I like my flat stomach (which is flatter now that there is less food in it). I love even my flaws.
It’s weird how these things happen, isn’t it? One day you think you’re fine, and the next you realize you have a problem. And then, because you finally admitted it, you allow your moment of grace to occur–the miracle that finally heals you.
And you know what’s so cool about recovery? It’s actually pretty fun. And even when it’s not that much fun, it’s still so much fun, because as long as I’m on the path, I have hope.
And so, to those of you out there who still suffer—and “suffer,” I know, is no exaggeration—here is my advice for you: pray. Meditate. Seek the help of your God. Do whatever you have to do to get in touch with the Source—even if at first, all you can do is ask to lose weight.
After that, follow your intuition. If you feel that reading inspiring books may help, read some inspiring books. If you feel that starting a program will help, start a program, by all means. If your heart is telling you to see a physician or counselor, please do so right away.
Take the steps you need to take—and as you do so, know that as long as you’re engaged with the process, moving down the path, there is hope for you, too.
“I am incapable of meditating,” admitted a friend of mine just the other day. “It ends up being just me silently agonizing over my to-do list.”
I totally get it; meditation is difficult. It’s definitely not a practice you’ll excel at right away. Just like you can’t pick up a golf club for the first time and expect to make it to the Masters Tournament next year and get that green jacket.
Okay, maybe that’s exaggerating, but you get the picture. The art of meditation can take years to learn, and you may never achieve perfect bliss, but it’s all about the practice.
And just like golf may not be your sport, certain styles of meditation may not be your cup of tea either. It takes some experimenting to find what works for you.
What is Meditation?
Meditation is a deliberate practice and one that requires your most quiet, mindful state. The word is tossed around a lot, but you may not exactly know meditation’s actual meaning or function. If asked, I would initial picture Yoda summoning the Force. Perhaps this is a form of meditation, but we’ll leave that for the galaxy.
Though mediation varies and splinters off into different styles of practices, it begins with one specific application—calming your mind. It also (hopefully) ends with a similar goal—restoring balance. The in-between is where you can customize your practice.
As with most new endeavors, it’s helpful to be educated on the subject before you jump in. That’s why we’re here! In this comprehensive guide, you’ll learn about the types of meditation, the benefits of meditation, meditation postures, and even some apps that will help you get in the zone. Then we’ll answer some common questions about meditation and silence any skeptics out there.
So what are some meditation techniques and tips to help you begin this transcendental journey? Stay tuned!
Types of Meditation
Vipassana meditation (observation of reality)
Vipassana is one of the most ancient forms of meditation. It originated in the Theravada vehicle of Buddhism (the school of thought used by southeastern Asian countries) and is said to use certain concepts from the Buddha himself—the refinement of mindfulness and searching within.
Broadly speaking, there are two types of meditation—concentration and insight. Concentration style meditation have you clear your mind or focus on only one thing. Vipassana is virtually the opposite, inviting you to unearth things about yourself.
Unlike these practices which discourage the movement of the mind, Vipassana meditation allows its students to explore and gaze at their thoughts from afar. You would then train your mind to reflect on your life experiences and view them objectively. Peeling them away layer by layer, you would ultimately be able to walk logically through your thought processes.
How to begin:
The simplest way to begin Vipassana meditation is to observe your breathing. Imagine your thoughts coming and going with the breath. Do not allow the thoughts to linger or be developed further beyond that one breath. This practice helps to relieve anxiety because anxiety is sometimes a result of thoughts being fleshed out to an irrational point.
This practice takes a lot of control. The mind’s natural tendency is to wander and see thoughts to fruition, but Vipassana asks you to allow thoughts to come and go like waves. Detached observation is often difficult for beginners.
Float tank (sensory deprivation)
Floating is a form of sensory deprivation. Its popularity is definitely arising because it can accommodate many abilities. Floating is done in a small tank filled with roughly 10-12 inches of water. The water contains around 800 pounds of Epsom salt, making it more buoyant than the Dead Sea.
In a float center, eliminating stimulus is the primary endeavor. The water is the same temperature as your body, so you don’t experience being too hot or cold. The room is completely dark, and the sound is nonexistent. Floats are usually done in 60-90 minute increments.
Remember the friend I told you about who said she was incapable of meditating? For her birthday, I surprised her with a 90-minute float. Honestly, I thought she would balk. Thankfully, I was wrong! She described the experience like floating in space, not being able to differentiate between water and air.
The benefits are medicinal in many ways. The calm sensory environment aids concentration, but the zero-gravity effect can help with back pain and stimulate sleep that’s equal to 4 hours of REM cycle sleep.
How to begin:
Obviously, you’ll need to find a facility that specializes in floating. The first visit is the most difficult because your body will take to allow the salts and sensory deprivation to relax your mind. Once you fall into a dreamlike state, though, then you’ll be able to implement your own specific practice.
Floating is expensive. Cost is usually not an object of meditation, so this alone could prevent you from experiencing floatation. Even if you could afford a float or two, meditation is recommended to be practiced often, so consistency would be difficult. Another downside (for Stranger Things fans only): unless you are Eleven, you’re not promised a visit to the Upsidedown dimension.
Guided meditation (instruction & response)
Guided meditation is probably the best practice if you’re a beginner. Most times you’ll have a narrator lead you through a practice. Whether the practice is about breathing or self-esteem, the scripts are designed to give your mind specific tasks that will reign in excessive thought.
When our brains create thought, we are also creating neural pathways. The more reinforcement we give to those pathways, the more likely we are to live into those thoughts. Our brains are programmed to absorb information and react to certain environments based on previous experience. How amazing that we hold the key to reformatting our minds to think more positively.
How to begin:
Getting started with guided meditation is simple. First, it’s important to choose an objective for your meditations. Since there is a vocally programmed aspect, you’ll want to feel that your script is beneficial. Are you wanting to quell anxiety or increase positivity?
Stay tuned for the segment later in the blog where we cover meditation apps that might assist you with guided meditations!
Guided meditation requires some outside resources like a program or application on your phone. Other options may include group meditation, but you might feel that this will prevent you from complete relaxation.
Check out this guided meditation to help with over-thinking.
Chakra meditation (personal inventory)
Chakra is an Indian form of thought which breaks down the body into a column of energy centers, each signifying a different color and trait. The 7 chakras correspond to our physical, emotional, and spiritual processes and, according to ancient Hindu healers, can become blocked.
Meditation and yoga are two of the most common ways to realign and unblock your chakras. Before I introduce you to a Chakra balancing meditation, let’s learn about each energy segment, starting from the bottom.
Red — The Root
The lowest chakra is at the base of the spine or the pelvic floor and is associated with concepts which ground you—basic instincts like shelter, self-preservation, and safety. Blockages in this chakra result in colon issues, lower back pain, and fear/anxiety
Orange — The Sacral
The next chakra is located between your navel and pelvic bone and is associated with your sexual nature—passion, joy, and complete wellness. Blockages in the sacral chakra include aversion to change, sexual dysfunction, or addiction.
Yellow —The Solar Plexus
The yellow chakra is located in your belly just below the ribcage and connects you to self-control and power. Blockages in the solar plexus result in moods of self-deprecation, poor time management, and digestive issues.
Green — The Heart
As it indicates, this chakra is located in your chest and is centered in love. The chakra, at its best, promotes goodwill and absolution. Blockages in the heart promote anger management issues, inability to cope with grief, and grudges.
Blue — The Throat
This blue chakra symbolizes communication and your ability to express yourself clearly without inhibition or fear of your own honesty. Blockages could result in trouble speaking your truth, shoulder/neck tension, and attention issues.
Indigo — The Third Eye
Located between your eyes, this chakra represents your brain and your vision. The purple energy dictates your ability to perceive and fine tunes your intuition. Blockages create poor judgment, erratic decision-making, and headaches.
Violet — The Crown
The crown chakra, like its location, is the highest energy and is related to spiritual connection. In its purest form, the violet chakra is fully conscious and aware of the universe. Disconnected, the crown chakra could make you feel isolated. Meditation is said to be most helpful for this energy source. During these times of mindfulness, your 7 chakras are at total, clear alignment.
How to begin:
The best way to begin Chakra-style mediation is to be familiar with the 7 chakras. Study the energies. What color holds your insufficiencies? What colors are your strengths? Once you underwent the colors and their connection to your mind and body, listen to a guided Chakra meditation for help navigating the blockages (see below).
As information-rich and enlightening as Chakras are, they are also abstract. Studying Chakras may be something you want to tackle down the road in your meditation journey. No sense in overloading your mind when you’re trying to silence it!
Forest bathing (gentle wandering)
What do you think of when you hear forest bathing? When I first heard it, I thought, You mean just being in the woods? Well, I go trail running, so this is nothing new to me. Who’s profiting from this glorified hiking class?
Then I took some time to research. Developed in the 1980’s, this Japanese form of healing helps converge nature and mindfulness in its students. It incorporates a slow walk through quiet woods, breathing exercises, and observation. You’re invited to use all your senses to connect with nature—seeing the green, hearing the birds, feeling the textures around you. (Another common misconception debunked: it’s not a bath, so you don’t need swim trunks).
Think about the objective of a hike or a trail run. The goals are finishing or having a defined destination. These add an element of rushed urgency to something that we assume is peaceful—not to mention, high elevation hikes or runs take a lot of conditioning. I don’t know about you, but I don’t feel very peaceful when I’m out of breath.
How to begin:
Forest bathing can be as simple or as complex as you’d like. There are some programs and retreats you can attend which educate and guide you through the process. Another option is just to walk trails on your own and connect with your senses.
Some city dwellers may not have easy access to a forest. That’s okay. Find any green space or park. It may not offer the quietness you need, but the main thing is surrounding yourself with green.
Meditation teaches chronic worriers to quiet an active mind. Training yourself to halt the broken record of your mind’s worst case scenarios is not easy. It’s definitely not relaxing at first. But keep trying. The results outweigh the effort.
One of the main components of meditation is the self-awareness. Practices may be different, but a common thread is the attention it brings. Whether you’re tracking your breathing, guiding your thoughts, or listening to birds in the forest, you’re making an effort at awareness.
Meditation, in all its forms, calls for slow movement—unhurried, gentle thoughts as well as heedful physical movements. This world revolves around quickness and convenience these days, so it’s no wonder that the simple act of slowing down can improve your grasp on the nuances of life.
Mindfulness creates control
Our minds are hardwired to absorb tons of sensory information and interpret it. Not many moments go by when your mind isn’t working, worrying, planning, or wandering—except for when you’re meditating, that is. You already know that control is difficult. Raise your hand if you’ve ever tried dieting. I see you.
The willpower involving food choices is tough, but at least these actions and reactions are slower (i.e. grocery shopping, ordering at a restaurant) Thoughts appear and vanish instantly, so controlling this traffic successfully creates a master of control.
Being present in our bodies helps us appreciate its function
Meditation asks you to dive deep. Listening to your breathing and the rhythm of your heart can only be a rote part of the process for so long. But when you really begin to investigate your vessel through mediation, you may find yourself grateful and amazed.
Gratitude can be a wonderful focal point during concentration meditations. The Chakra mediation we covered earlier is the perfect application for this type of appreciation. The presence of mind you’ll have while exploring your Chakras will help you learn a lot about your physical and spiritual qualities.
Quarter Lotus (Burmese)
The quarter lotus is a fancier name for sitting with your legs crossed (or as my preschool teacher would say—criss cross applesauce). For added comfort, I would recommend sitting on a folded towel to elevate your hips. This will relieve pressure on your knees and ankles.
Full lotus position is probably the 2nd most common association with meditation behind chanting ooommmmmm. It’s the pose we all envision. Instead of crossing feet under the knee, you pull your feet up to rest on your thigh.
Since the full lotus is intermediate to advanced, I only recommend you try this one if you already have pretty loose hips or your only plan on short meditations. If you have knee injuries, definitely avoid this pose.
Seated in Chair
This may not be the most picturesque pose, but it works for some people. If you think sitting down with your legs crossed will cause pain or discomfort, definitely choose the chair method. The point of mediation is to not fixate on distractions, so if your legs fall asleep due to poor circulation, that won’t exactly propel you toward deep relaxation.
For chair pose, sit up and don’t let your back rest against the chair. Your chest should be lifted and your feet planted firmly on the floor.
There’s some controversy around horizontal mediation positions because it could tempt you to fall asleep. Although sleep is positive (definitely means you’re chill), it’s not exactly the goal of meditation. If you have the self-control to remain conscious, try these yoga-inspired poses.
Corpse Pose (Savasana)
This is my favorite yoga pose. Of course, you’re probably saying, because it’s lying on your back doing nothing. Well, you’re partly right, but in my defense, it’s not as easy as it looks. Sure, you can be stretched out on your back, but what is your mind doing? You’re either asleep or worrying if the chicken will be thawed by dinner time.
Corpse pose could be the most difficult to master. It’s not about the position as much as your consciousness while in savasana. You’re lying horizontal, palms facing up. You’re breathing with intention, eyes closed.
Supta Baddha Konasana (Bolstered Hip Opener)
This one’s a mouthful, but here’s what’s up. Also a horizontal position, this pose is often done in restorative yoga practices. You’ll be on your back with your legs in a butterfly position (soles of your feet together, heels pulled toward your groin) with a bolster pillow under your shoulders. I’ve taken part in a restorative yoga session before, and I really liked this pose.
This position opens your hips and aligns your spine. Pop quiz: which Chakra would you be using in this meditative position? (Hint: orange)
Is movement a position? Not necessarily, but because meditation has evolved, so must posture. Think about forest bathing. Though it’s perfectly okay to sit and bask in nature, the specific forest bathing technique requires slow wandering. I think this is just another way you can be present in your body and be aware of subtleties of movement.
Using apps on your phone may seem like it’s defeating the purpose of detaching and focusing, but I’m liking this option. I need the incentive to stay on task and build a habit. Whether that’s a monthly payment or simply seeing the app button on my home screen, I think we could all use a boost.
For sake of brevity (there are hundreds of apps out there), I’m gonna categorize them based on some specific factors. Here you go:
10% happier (for the skeptics)
This app was created to combat the skeptics who think meditation is sitting cross-legged on a mountain ledge at dawn chanting in Sanskrit. Phew! Good thing I’m here to change your mind! You could be missing out on some real ambient chill.
10% Happier addresses the science behind the ooommmm. There’s a lot of commentary, explanation, and basic practices to get you started.
Price: Free with limited features, $11.99 per month
Buddhify (for the indecisive)
To me, this program is the most aesthetically pleasing and is seemingly user friendly. The app opens with a color wheel inviting you to select your mood. Instead of stressing yourself out scrolling through options, just let your mood select the style. There are also a ton of guided meditations if you need some help navigating your thoughts.
Smiling mind (for the budget conscious)
This app is free! Are you sold yet? If not, check out these specs: the app chooses meditations based on your personality/career and tracks your progress. It was developed by psychologists and other healthcare professionals, so it’s free and trustworthy. Can’t beat that.
Headspace (for the best of everything)
This is the most compressive app of all. Forbes named this app one of its top choices, and for good reason. Tons of categorized meditations are available for your ever-shifting days and moods. There’s even an SOS feature for, particularly rough days. You can even have accountability check-ins with other app users!
Price: Free with limited features; $12.99 per month
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Are meditation and prayer the same thing?
A: This is a tricky question. A lot of people get confused or hesitant about starting any meditation practices because it seems associated with religion. Although its roots are in Asian culture and religion, no one is forcing you to submit or pray to a higher Being if you don’t choose to.
What meditation can offer is a vehicle or shell for your prayer. The seated posture, the inward-looking, and the quiet focus all lend themselves to great prayer environments no matter your faith. Faith-based guided meditations are a great way to incorporate both relaxation and religious practices into one sitting.
The largest difference I notice between prayer and meditation is where control is delegated. In non-prayer meditation, you are usually coached into being your mind’s own master—you and you alone are governing your sensory perceptions. Oftentimes in prayer, there is a submissive nature which relinquishes power to a higher Being.
Q: When is the best time of day to meditate?
A: Depending on the goal of your meditation, any time of day could work. If you need to channel energy and positivity, morning is a great choice. If you’re attempting to diffuse anxiety or a tough situation during the day, maybe a few minutes on your lunch hour. If relaxation is what you’re after, try meditating before bedtime as a sort of sleep prep.
Q: How long should I meditate?
A: Don’t set yourself up for failure. Don’t jump in and attempt to quiet your mind for a whole hour. That’ll probably be the last time you meditate. Try 10 minutes at first to see how your body and mind react. Once you’ve mastered this timeframe, you can move up slowly.
I consider an average meditation to be around 30 minutes. With life as busy as it is, it’s hard to fit any more time in—especially since you’ll need to incorporate exercise and vigorous activity in at some point as well. Damn you, self-care!
A: This is an excellent question and one that boils down to preference and how you react to stimuli. Though closing your eyes is most common and seems to promote focus, it can easily allow the mind to wander or drift off (to a rabbit hole of thought or to sleep!)
If you chose to practice with your eyes closed, you must find something to focus on—a consistent sound, your breathing, or the wind against your cheek.
With open eyes, it seems obvious that you might get distracted. Squirrel! But it might be simpler than you imagine. The key is to fixate on a focal point. Don’t place yourself in a visually busy spot. Find a consistent landscape, like a forest edge or a sunset. If you’re inside, focus on the collection of four-leaf clovers in a jar. Bottom line: understand how your mind works and what would allow you to focus.
I hope this guide has given you some insight into this therapeutic practice. For the skeptics, I hope you’re convinced that meditation is more than Yoda and lots of ooommmm. For seasoned meditators, I hope this has given you more tools and more angles to mix up your practice.
For the slackers like me, I hope this has reignited your energy toward bettering your mind. I don’t know about you, but after this post, I’m going to tend to my blue Chakra and stare at some trees.
A few years back, I read a little-known book by Neale Donald Walsch called Questions and Answers on Conversations With God. In it, a reader asks if the author knows any way to speed up one’s process of reaching enlightenment—you know, kind of like a shortcut. Not surprisingly, Walsch says that he does. He advises the reader to write down in great detail what her highest and grandest vision of herself would look like—then to begin to act as if that was who she was right now.
I thought this was great advice, and since I’d never actually made a list like this before, recently I decided to give it a go. Then, I decided, I’d assess which of the changes I could take on, and which I would have to save for later.
Here is what I wrote.
I am a woman who:
•Smiles when she looks in the mirror.
•Does not criticize herself or others over superficialities.
•Does not believe she is superior to others.
•Does not have any negative thoughts at all; is relentlessly optimistic.
•Takes full responsibility for her choices.
•Is honest with others whenever possible, and always with herself.
•Wears only comfortable clothes.
•Does not spend a great deal of money, time or attention on her physical appearance.
•Spends time every morning in prayer and meditation.
•Frequently practices the activities that she’s passionate about.
•Takes her time. Enjoys the small moments of her day. Does not rush. Pays attention to people. Does not crowd her schedule.
After completing the list, I looked it over, and realized something: I was already most of the way there. I also realized that everything on the list–every last thing–was achievable, not just for me, but for anyone.
Sometimes, spiritual-minded people like us start to get mired in self-doubt. We hear about a new spiritual practice, a new technique, and we think, If only I could do that, I’d get enlightened. Today, I ask you to consider not where you’re going, but where you’ve been. How far have you already come on your spiritual journey? I encourage you do make a list like mine, then appreciate how close to your highest self you already are.
Are you a good mother? A good partner? A good friend? Do you practice kindness, give to charity?
My guess is that you do.
And so, maybe–just maybe–we’re further along than we think. Maybe enlightenment isn’t the mystery it’s made out to be.
A few years back, I got an unexpected, though common, gift. That gift was simply an Inkling.
I’m not sure who gave it to me, exactly. Maybe God or my Higher Self, or maybe just age and wisdom. Wherever it came from, this inkling—this distinct feeling in my gut—was that soon, I’d come across an excellent job opportunity, and I was supposed to take it. Along with this thought came the phrase “one year.”
I considered the idea. But I’m a stay-at-home mom, I reasoned. I had this all figured out.
And yet, over several weeks, the feeling persisted, so I stored the idea in a safe place in my mind.
Soon after that, at my first child’s six-month checkup, the doctor and I were discussing working and I told her I’d finally made the difficult decision to sacrifice the extra income and stay at home. She nodded approvingly.
“I stayed home with my baby for one year,” she said. “That was just about right for me.”
When she said this, the words sounded different than words normally do. They stood out, became almost three-dimensional. I knew what was happening: I was getting another Inkling.
Dawn will be a year old in November, I realized. Maybe that’s when this job opportunity will come.
A few months later, my husband heard about an excellent weekends-only position, and he encouraged me to apply. I hadn’t told him anything about my prediction, and I still didn’t; I just let him convince me.
“The job is perfect for you,” he said. “I mean, it’s nothing you’ve done before. But you could learn. And you could make a lot of money. It couldn’t hurt to try it out.”
As he spoke, that feeling returned.
“Do you think I could really do it?” I asked.
“I really do,” he said, though he was fully aware of my inexperience in this field.
“Who is going to teach me what I need to know?” I asked.
He said he would, and soon after that, we began.
This happened in September or so, and knowing that I had until November to learn everything I needed to know, progress at first was slow.
Then November came. Sometime in the middle of the month, my husband got a call from his job agent.
“You know that job that your wife is going to interview for?” he said. “Well, the salary just doubled.”
Here’s the thing: The pay was really good before. Now they were considering adding a few extra responsibilities—rolling two very part-time jobs into one slightly less part-time job. When my husband told me what he just heard, I almost didn’t believe it. And yet, somehow, I did.
“There is bad news, too,” he said. “Now you have competition.”
See, my ace-in-the-hole before was that no one else really wanted a two-day a week, weekend-only job. With the pay increase, they surely would. I had to start taking this interview a little more seriously.
The weeks that followed took on a quality that I can only describe as cinematic. All day, every day, the number that represented the amount of money I’d be making per year if this interview went well looped through in my mind. And all day, every day, I studied.
After re-reading the books the agent provided me with and taking two or three times as many notes as I had the first time through, I still felt unprepared. I asked my husband if there was anything more I could do or read. He didn’t think there was, but I knew better. With two weeks left before the interview, I went to the library and checked out two armloads of books. I didn’t just study computer security, though; I studied all of the basics of computer science: the way operating systems worked, computer networking and more. Each morning after changing the baby and making my coffee, I sat down at my reading station in the playroom and took up where I left off. And other than a walk or two and a Thanksgiving dinner at a friend’s house, that is where I stayed—for an entire week straight.
The following week was much more relaxed. I spent the time reviewing my notes (the third or fourth iteration as I added to them and rewrote them during the course of my reading and my long explanatory conversations with my husband, who was more useful to me by far than any book). I peeked at the subject heading of a page, then attempted to recall out loud everything that was written on that page. By the day of the interview, I felt that I was not just prepared—I was overprepared.
And as it turned out, I was right.
The interview took place on a weekday between Thanksgiving and Christmas when it is very cold and foggy outside and everything takes on that special holiday quality, even mundane activities related to work. Two days earlier I had selected the perfect outfit: not too dressy, not too casual, not too black. I had also tried on the nicest pair of pants I own, the ones that are sometimes (okay, most of the time) just a little too tight—and they fit perfectly. They looked on me just like the saleslady would’ve wanted them to.
And then there was my hair. Being of the medium length and fast-growing variety, my hair is most often either too short (right after the haircut) or—seemingly just a few weeks later—too long and starting to get shabby. The week of the interview, however, I was smack in the middle of one of those rare moments when it was as Goldilocks would have celebrated it.
It was just right.
And so, I looked good. I was mentally prepared. I was fairly confident—though nervous, I wasn’t actually shaking. I knew that a big part of pulling this off would be to give the solid impression that I did not doubt myself in the slightest.
And that is what I did.
When the interview began, I channeled all of my nerves out of my brain and face, right down into my neck. In so doing, I injured my neck. But my facial expressions were calm and relaxed, and my answers were, too. Once in a while, after a particularly hard question, an alarm would go off in my head that went something like: “You don’t know the answer. You don’t know the answer.” But remembering that poise was more important than anything, and that whatever happened it was okay and would work out in the way is was meant to work out, I squashed those alarms in my head with a quickness. Then I remembered the answer.
The only question I flubbed was the last one, and by then I had already subtly complimented the person I knew would be my immediate supervisor twice and made the whole room (there were three interviewers) laugh at least once.
Leaving the room, I knew I had done well.
When it was over, I went to my car and waited for my agent to meet me there. He took a long time. Finally, he did arrive. Then he asked me how I thought it went.
“I aced it,” I said, stretching my neck in every direction, wondering how I could injure it so painfully while barely making use of any muscle in my body except those that allowed me to sit up straight. “It was almost too easy. I wish it had been harder so that the other two candidates would have less of a chance.”
“Well, that won’t be a problem,” my agent told me. “They’re not going to interview anyone else. You got the job.”
It was five days before my neck returned to normal.
At the steakhouse where my husband, my agent and I went after the interview to celebrate, the agent told us that the second part of the job may or may not come through, depending on a couple of internal decisions yet to be made. He also said that due to my inexperience in the field I barely squeaked by in the interview, and that they were hiring me on a trial basis.
Hearing this, I smiled. “I’ll do great,” I told him. “And I’ll get that extra pay as well.”
And that is what I did.
Later I realized that the week that I started my intensive study for the interview was the week that my baby turned one year old.
A month before we had our second child, my husband and I bought a house. We’d looked for eight months for the right one and when we finally found it we were very glad we’d waited.
It was perfect.
The neighborhood is modest and quiet and all grown over with trees. The location is central–just a short drive to anywhere we need to go. And the house, itself, is just our style: three bedrooms, two baths, one story, with vaulted ceilings, hardwood floors and a very simple charm. Though when we initially envisioned our future home with four kids running around in it we thought we’d need to upgrade, ever since moving in I’ve told my husband that I don’t care how many kids we have and who has to share a bedroom.
I never want to leave.
Anyway, the house wasn’t cheap. And neither are the many bills that come along with home ownership. And neither was the new car that we bought right after that. And so, when the baby was born I decided to continue working part-time.
A few months into motherhood, I got a great freelance gig. It was just the kind of thing I love doing—a corporate blog—and I could work mostly from home. At the time, I figured it was probably a law of attraction thing—the right gig at the right time, and all that.
But that was before I got fired.
Why did it happen? Well, to make a long story short, my client was more conservative than I was—way more conservative—and didn’t like the risks I was taking. So they decided I just wasn’t a “good fit.”
And that was how that went.
Normally when something like this happens, I don’t worry about it very much; there are always other clients, other projects. This time, though, it was different. This job felt so perfect for me and I thought I was doing such good work, I thought. Why didn’t this work out?
And then I thought about it some more.
I remembered the difficult phone interview when my phone wouldn’t work right and I had to drive to a nearby park and call them back. I remembered how hard it was to say goodbye to my then-five-month-old, and my uncertainties about our nanny.
And I remembered the voice inside my head saying, I just want to be a mom.
One night shortly after getting fired, my husband and I went to dinner for our anniversary. I wasn’t in the mood to celebrate, but I went anyway, more out of a feeling of duty than anything. As we sat there waiting for our food I told Jeff that something felt off to me lately, but I didn’t know quite what.
I looked around the restaurant. There were three small babies nearby—one at the table behind Jeff, one at the table behind me, and one at the table next to us. Suddenly, I had a realization.
“Jeff,” I said. “I want to fire the nanny.”
Jeff was surprised. “Are you sure?” he asked.
“No, I’m not sure. I love working. But–I don’t know. Something is feeling off. No matter what I do, how well my work day goes, all I can think about all day is my kid.
“We don’t need the money, Hon. He should be with me.”
“Okay,” said Jeff. “If that’s what you want to do.”
And that’s when I noticed it: a sense of peace. A radiating calm. It came over me suddenly, and I laughed out loud.
“I feel so much better now,” I said. “Wow. That was a relief. I haven’t felt this good in weeks.”
My higher self had finally gotten my attention.
For the rest of our date, Jeff and I enjoyed ourselves greatly. Afterwards we took a long, aimless drive and just talked.
It was a wonderful anniversary after all.
Here is what I wrote in my journal several months later:
Lonnie is over five months old now, and I find that I don’t want to write my books anymore, and I still don’t want to have a nanny, and all I freaking want to do is to stare at my baby’s face while he nurses, while he sleeps, while he cries, and to rock him and to hold him and to tell him that everything is going to be okay.
Last night, I slept from midnight until almost nine thirty. Every time Xavier awoke or stirred, I rolled over and did the most beautiful thing in the world: I fed my baby. Then I fell back asleep. There was one diaper change around seven, easily accomplished. My husband slept next to us peacefully.
It was a glorious night.
I love being a stay-at-home mom. So much more than I ever thought I would. We go to parks. We take long car rides and do car naps. Sometimes after the baby falls asleep, I just pull into a parking lot and read a book.
And I’ve never been this important to anyone before—never. Not even close.
It feels really, really good.
And even though later I got a part-time job, and even now I still work a bit most days, it still does.
As someone who has tried nearly two hundred law of attraction methods and read over fifty-seven books on the subject, to say I was frustrated when my life was the same is the understatement of the year. That is, until I did a “self-audit” and realized that 99 percent of the positive change that was happening in my life was coming from only a few super simple techniques I’d almost stopped doing. Mollie was kind enough to let me write a couple of articles about how I got out of this slump and manifested my dream life to share with all of you amazing people.
Here’s how I discovered the final three of my top five law of attraction techniques and used them to change my life.. (You can read about the others right here.)
Technique 3: Act As If You’ve Already Done It
“Whether you think you can or think you can’t, either way you are right.” – Henry Ford
This was tough for me to overcome because it was a confidence issue with me. I knew the advice, keep your back straight, walk tall, don’t let people get the better of you but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. Or so I thought. It can be clumsy or awkward at first but I promise it will make you smile from ear to ear once you try it. When I was feeling lost just a few years ago I gave it a shot. I thought to myself, “If I were a successful author, how would I behave?” So I changed. Instead of being slumped in my chair when writing, I got up, stretched myself out, took some deep breaths, and resumed writing, only this time tried to look confident. And you know what? It worked! I managed to brainstorm numerous ideas for my books and even got started on the one I recently published.
Take a moment and picture a successful person in your mind. What is their body language like? Are they smiling? What actions and activities are they doing? Now, ask the same questions again, only picture someone who is depressed or unsatisfied with their life. I bet you’ll start to see a difference.
That’s the trick! Having a fulfilling life really just boils down to how you act. Recent studies confirmed this by determining that “. . . the way you walk and move your body and posture affects your mood.” For instance, if you’re not happy with the amount of money you have in the bank nothing is stopping you from acting like you’re already at the goal you wish you were at. Walk with confidence, smile more, live better and the Universe will notice. Go ahead, act it out!
Technique 4: Love What You Do
“Don’t aim for success if you want it; just do what you love and believe in, and it will come naturally.” – David Frost
Most of us have experienced going with the crowd rather than paving our own path. Early in my journey I was taking tests online all day trying to figure out my personality, passions and strengths. It wasn’t until I pushed my laptop to the side and starting spending some quality time with myself that I realized what I truly love, which is writing. It can be tough to sit down and have a mental “talk” with yourself. It took me hours to figure out what my heart has been trying to tell me all along. But guess what? When I figured out what my soul wanted me to pursue, I got an instant energy rush which touched every inch of my being. I had found my passion. No other feeling can relate to how spectacular it felt. Since it was my true passion I love every second I spend doing it and my life has become so much better since I found it.
This right here is where success and happiness are intertwined. Have you ever noticed that people who have it all (Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, etc.) never stop working? They have enough money and success to last multiple lifetimes but many people like that work harder than when they were young. Here’s the secret: they love what they do!
I love writing, improving myself, and connecting with others so I make it my mission each day to do at least one of those three things. If you love taking photos, take them every day, share them with who you can, and enjoy the process. There has never been a better time to cash in on your passion. Or if you don’t want any financial success from it, do it because it makes your soul feel good and alive!
I spoke about this in my book Power Mindset Mastery, as follows:
“If you do not discover yourself, and know exactly what you want from life, you have no idea what you are living for.
“A step to self-discovery is identifying your needs. Most people are clueless of what they want. To identify your needs, you first need to take a step back and think thoroughly. Then, when you are in a relaxed state of mind, meditate and focus on your thoughts. Ask yourself questions like what makes you happy, what makes you sad and so on. Along with the question of what, also ask why it makes you feel certain emotions. Seek a deep and strong reason behind it, not a common or general answer.
“When you have identified what makes you happy and sad, you can focus on the things that make you happy and stay away from moments that make you sad.”
Technique 5: Accept Who You Are
“The worst loneliness is to not be comfortable with yourself.” – Mark Twain
This can be tough for many of us because often times we shove our true thoughts or feelings to the side for quite some time. I was in a nasty habit of doing that for most my life. I would keep my mouth shut when I had something to say. Or I would keep myself from saying how I really felt when I was given the chance to speak. At first I thought I was doing good by not upsetting anyone and that I was attracting good people in my life because of it. However, I was battling myself on the inside to stop wearing so many different masks. The people I was attracting into my life didn’t share my vision or passion which made it tough to be around them. Much like the other techniques, I decided one morning that I would start to speak my mind and be honest with myself. I started slow but eventually got to the point where I was speaking my mind and telling the truth every time I opened my mouth. It was an incredibly freeing feeling and one that still hits me to this day. The result? I began attracting wonderful people into my life who shared my passion for writing and helping. It is a completely different feeling when you are surrounded by people who genuinely know you and care for that part of you that you tried so hard to push away.
As we age, our ambitions tend to fade. Do you still love doing the activities you were doing as a child? If you so happen to write a book, what subject would you write on? Questions like these can help bring perspective to where you are at in your life and what you value.
You’ll always have people tell you what you are doing Is wrong, weird, or too different. Caring about what others think of you is a HUGE distraction. What does it keep you from? Yourself.
Deep inside you know yourself. We all do. Some of us just need an extra nudge to get it out. For me, I always tried to hide the fact that I love the self-help genre from my friends and family. I remember I was terrified to get caught listening to Tony Robbins on my computer as a kid so I would close the tab when my parents walked by. I was scared of what they would think. Unfortunately the only person that was affecting was myself because I was stopping myself from exploring what my soul was telling me to do.
When I became open about how much I appreciate things like the law of attraction or meditation I was met with questions and laughter from the people that were close to me. However, I also gained respect from them because we naturally respect those who are brave enough to let go and be true to themselves, it is freeing. Be honest with who you are. Identify the areas in your life that you feel you aren’t being true to yourself in and make a change.
That wraps up my explanation of the five law of attraction techniques that changed my life. It felt great writing these out. If they help even just one person then it will have been worth sharing.
As a final note, don’t overthink it. When it comes to living the life of your dreams or attracting success into your life, focus on finding yourself first. Practice self-love and gratitude and your journey will align more and more with where the universe wants you.
As someone who has tried nearly two hundred law of attraction methods and read over fifty-seven books on the subject, to say I was frustrated when my life was the same is the understatement of the year. That is, until I did a “self-audit” and realized that 99 percent of the positive change that was happening in my life was coming from only a few super simple techniques I’d almost stopped doing. Mollie was kind enough to let me write a couple of articles about how I got out of this slump and manifested my dream life to share with all of you amazing people.
Here’s how I discovered the first two of my top five law of attraction techniques and used them to change my life.
Technique 1: Be Thankful
“If a fellow isn’t thankful for what he’s got, he isn’t likely to be thankful for what he’s going to get.” – Frank A. Clark
For the longest time I was going through life without being thankful for all that I had. I thought the world was somehow conspiring against me to bring me pain and suffering so I felt no need to thank it. That all changed back in May of 2015 when I found a YouTube channel called Infinite Waters. Here was a man who was telling me all that I could be grateful for. Everyday something beautiful would happen to me and I never gave the Universe even a “thanks” in return. I had a wonderful house, a family who loved me, and nature to appreciate but I never gave any of it attention or gratitude; I only focused on the negative. I felt ashamed and I needed to change. I decided that I would never leave my room in the morning without recounting all that I am grateful for. It began empowering me. When you open your heart and start being grateful, amazing feelings start to flow in. My life changed forever when I started doing that. Instead of only seeing the bad in the world, I saw everything that was good and all that could become good with some changes.
The simple act of recounting all the blessings you’ve been given in your life feels powerful. It can give you purpose to achieve more and pay it back. Don’t just take my word for it, though; Oprah Winfrey, Tim Ferriss, Richard Branson and countless others practice gratitude every day.
The best time I’ve found to practice gratitude is right when I wake up and right before I go to bed. Try writing in a gratitude journal or simply run through three things you’re grateful for in your head. For example, when I wake up I tell myself, “I am so thankful for the amazing family I’ve been blessed with, the comfort my room provides me, and the access to food I am able to enjoy every day.” It always gives me some much needed perspective on how much I truly have. Although we all have our problems, everyone has been blessed with so much that often times we forget to turn around and tell the Universe, “Thank you.”
Technique 2: Build a Dream Board
“Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions.” – Albert Einstein
When I first heard about constructing a dream board, my first thought was, “What? I suck at arts and crafts.” Due to that limiting belief I shrugged it off and didn’t consider trying to build one for almost a year. Well, one cloudy morning back in 2016 I was thinking to myself, “What am I attracting into my life and what am I focusing on?” I had found my problem. I had no clue what I was focusing on and my life was becoming chaotic because of that. I remembered hearing about building a dream board and how it can help keep you on a focused path towards your dreams. I spent a few sleepless nights building my very own dream board, filling every possible space with an image or word that directed me towards where I wanted to go. Now, I look at it every day on my bedroom door and beautiful thoughts of my dreams rush into my head. It’s an exhilarating feeling and one that I would recommend to everyone!
This is one of my favorite techniques and has helped me change my life in so many ways. A dream board is something physical that showcases your desires in life, like a poster or even a sheet of paper (the bigger the better). It usually has images and words posted on it that align with your goals and vision. It can be a cutout picture of a new car or house from a magazine. Non-material items also work just as well; if one of your goals is to reduce stress, for example, then think about what that would look like. Would you be relaxing on a beach? Going for a bike ride? Think hard and visualize how that picture looks in your mind and put it on your dream board.
The dream board doesn’t have to just be limited to images. Write out how your dreams feel to you. For instance, one of my dreams (which I have not yet achieved) was to write a book. I wrote it out as if I was already living it, saying something like, “I spent all day replying to people’s emails about how much my book meant to them and I loved every second.”
I am hoping you are seeing a pattern by now. When you continue to write out positive phrases or look at images your focus will shift towards that instead of negative distractions. That is the core of this belief and if you are able to do it then you’ll be well on your way to success!
Remember to keep your dream board in a place where you will see it every day. I am a big fan of putting it in spots I can’t avoid like the refrigerator, my bed stand, or even my bedroom door. Add looking at your dream board to your daily morning ritual and think about it often.
This super cute gal, Jennifer Casolary, is the creator of a law of attraction app called Subliminal Vision Boards. Genius, right? Currently, it’s available for IOS and Android. If you’re a skeptic, try it anyway. Prove it doesn’t work, or make your dreams come true. Win-win.
Here’s a true law of attraction success story about an experience Casolary brought into her own life.
All my life I’ve wanted to really make an impact on the world. I’ve learned that in order to do this, it’s best to trust my gut, let my heart lead the way and be open to signs. I’ve always felt guided and I trust the path in front of me, which has made me a powerful manifestor. My dad used to say, “How do you do it, Jenn?” I’ve had unhappy jobs and unfulfilling and unhealthy relationships like we all do but I learned that it’s okay to want more, and it’s okay to act on that desire.
In that frame of mind, I went to hear motivational speaker Tony Robbins. I sat in an aisle seat in hopes that I could somehow give him one of my Subliminal Vision Boards App business cards, and within the first two minutes of the show, he stood right in front of me. I kept thinking, “Oh my gosh, he’s right in front of me. How do I do this?” Then, even though there were bodyguards around him, I held my hand out to him with the card in it.
At first, since he was speaking over me, he couldn’t see it. So I raised my arm slightly, and suddenly he looked down and said, “Oh, you want me to have this?”
Speechless, I shook my head yes. Then, into his mic going out to over 4,000 listeners, he read the card.
“Subliminal Vision Boards App.”
He made a spooky-like finger gesture, and everyone laughed. He kept looking at me, so I said, “It’s cutting edge. It will change your life.”
“Okay, I will take a look at it,” he said. Then he put it in his pocket and carried on with his show.
What a magical moment this was for me.
This is just one of the manifestations I’ve experienced while using this app.
The next morning I went to meet one of the powerful and inspirational speakers at the same conference, Jason Tyne, to learn about his new streaming app called New Tycoon and his book, 52 Words. I showed him the app and he said, “Oh, you’re the girl who gave Tony the business card. All the other speakers backstage were in awe that he took it from you because he never takes anything from anyone.”
You know, it isn’t just the experience of connecting with Tony Robbins that I loved. It was realizing that I have a lot more courage and capacity to change people’s lives than I was aware of before.
Contributor: Ingrid Vasquez. Ingrid is a freelance writer based out of Texas. She has contributed to Fox News and Cosmopolitan.com. I interviewed her over email after seeing one of her articles online about depression. You can start a conversation with her, too, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or at @byingridvasquez on Twitter.
Mollie: How did your depression begin?
Ingrid: In high school I was a happy student. I wasn’t the popular kid, but I had a tight group of friends who I could depend on for anything. My life at home, though, wasn’t the best.
From a young age my parents never had the greatest relationship. It was a “stay together for the kids” type of thing. Also, we had money problems. I have memories of being told I was going to have to eat everything at school because we might not have enough money for food at home, but at the time it felt normal. In a way I’m blessed to say I was never truly made aware of everything we were going through because my parents would figure it out for my two siblings and me one way or another. I guess you could call this being sheltered.
But because of this, moving away from home was terrifying. It wasn’t that I missed home (as my family believed). I just couldn’t adapt to change and the things that were supposed to be so natural to me weren’t. I started to become afraid to talk to people.
I began my first semester of school just going through the motions. I wasn’t comfortable enough to leave my dorm room. I managed to go to all my classes but I couldn’t study. I went from being an A and B kid to being put on academic probation.
What truly became the breaking point was when I began feeling like everyone around me was looking at me all the time. I felt like each person that walked by me as I was walking to class was talking about me. Even if I sat in the back of the room I felt like people were somehow talking about me.
I stayed in contact with my friends from back home but depended on the workers in the school cafeteria to be my “social contact of the day” because they were literally the only person I would talk to. I don’t have many memories of speaking with my professors.
Mollie: How did this finally start to turn around?
Ingrid: Eventually, I decided to start therapy. I’m not sure what finally made me seek it out. I think at one point I was just walking by the building and decided to go in. However, once I began, I got very attached to it. I hated that it was only once a week because in my eyes, these were the only people who I could speak with and who wouldn’t judge me.
I got clinically diagnosed and was advised to take pills but decided on a different approach. Each week I attended my individual therapy session, two group sessions, and a yoga and meditation session.
The moment I felt a switch was one day late in my first semester when I was walking to my dorm listening to Andy Grammer’s “Keep Your Head Up”. Somehow, listening to those lyrics and someone literally saying “keep your head up” made me feel like someone had pulled a switch in my mind. I had a sort of out-of-body experience where I said, “What am I doing?”
After that, I continued going to therapy for two more years. I got steadily healthier. I started making friends, which helped, too.
Mollie: Are you still depressed?
Ingrid: While today I can tell you that I am not depressed, I like to refer to depression as a disease sort of like alcoholism. You’re going to have your relapses and boy have I had mine. But I can talk to people now, even though I’m still incredibly reserved.
I am in recovery.
Mollie: Is spiritual practice part of your recovery?
Ingrid: Yes. I still meditate twice a day for twenty minutes each time, as I did during my college years. From time to time I use incense cones during my meditation sessions, too. I’m also experimenting with healing stones.
Mollie: How do you feel during your meditation sessions?
Ingrid: It might be odd to say, but I feel out-of-body. I’m able to let go of everything else and just concentrate on me.
Mollie: How important is it to your mental health to keep up this practice?
Ingrid: People often say “go pamper yourself” and see that as a trip to the spa or going on a shopping spree. Those things are nice and can make any person happy, but meditation is a form of pampering yourself that is not only affordable, but truly your own thing.
Mollie: What do you recommend other people who are suffering with depression or anxiety do first? What is the number one thing that they can do for themselves, if they only feel able to do one thing?
Ingrid: I believe it starts off with therapy. I knew nothing about meditation, yoga, expressing my emotions, or anything else that could help without going to a source that didn’t necessarily have the answers, but could lead me in that direction. It is with that process that you’ll find your best form of medicine.
I understand therapy is such a tricky and scary thing for some people and don’t want to necessarily say that nothing else can be done without trying it, but I do feel strongly about its importance.
As I’ve mentioned before, online lists of spirituality ebooks are often pretty hard to navigate successfully. It’s a hunt-and-peck operation; the few great books that are free are often hidden under figurative mounds of overly difficult or overly simplistic material. For that reason, I created a list called Best Free Spiritual Ebooks. That said, there are likely quite a few more that I could add to this list, if I took the time to look through what’s available.
If you feel inclined to take on the project, here are a few places to start.
100 Free Alternative Spirituality Ebooks Websites:
Thanks to a hunch and a great title, I purchased Sex, Drugs and Meditation on Amazon–and liked it even more than I expected I would. So I wrote the author, Mary-Lou Stephens, to ask if I could interview her for this site and for an upcoming book of mine. She kindly agreed. (And she was even willing to challenge my beliefs below, which I loved!)
Mollie: Right now I’m working on a book about examining and questioning deeply-held beliefs. The top spiritual beliefs I’ve found within myself so far, which are explained further in the book, are: spirituality is good; life is a game; there are no rules; people are holy; absolutes are fine, but certainty is not; happiness is the truth; God is simply reality–nothing more; and acceptance is “where it’s at.” What do you think? Agree or no?
1. Spirituality is good.
To quote Shakespeare, “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” I don’t think spiritual people are better than non-spiritual people or vice versa. Many people live good, happy and useful lives without any sense of spirituality.
2. Life is a game.
Life is what it is. It’s what we make of it. We get to chose what it is through how we think about it. The word “game” to me is too loaded with meaning. It’s possible to cheat when playing a game, and there are winners and losers. Also, to me, a game is too impersonal, too superficial. Life is an ever-unfolding wonder. Sometimes games are involved. I love playing Scrabble, but life as a game? No, that doesn’t resonate for me.
3. There are no rules.
I believe in boundaries, good healthy demarcations, but are these rules? No. I believe in working out what makes life better for me and those around me and living within that paradigm. As I mentioned before, when I was growing up in a Christian household I thought I had to obey all the rules to be worthy of love, and there were a lot of rules. I didn’t feel loved, no matter what I did. In 12-step programs I discovered that working the steps made my life a whole lot better so I was happy to keep working them again and again. Working those steps made my life work. With meditation I have found that life flows a lot easier. I don’t work the steps anymore. I have no schedule of spirituality I have to adhere to. I just live.
4. People are holy.
I do believe that God is in everyone. We are all part of the One. But once again, “holy” is a loaded word so I’m going to disagree with this one, too!
5. Absolutes are fine. Certainty is not.
There are no certainties, no absolutes. Everything changes, all the time. It’s the nature of the Universe.
6. We have power.
Yes, we have power. We have the power of choice. We can choose what we say, how we respond, how we spend our time, how we treat others. This is power.
7. Happiness is the truth.
Totally disagree with this one. Happiness is a fleeting feeling. The truth is everlasting.
8. God is reality—nothing more.
God is a paradox, everywhere and nowhere, everything and nothing, immeasurable and infinite. God may not even exist. But there is a strong sense within me that s/he does.
9. Acceptance. It’s where it’s at.
Yep! I love acceptance. it gives me so much more space and time to do the things I love to do. I’ve stopped fighting. It was all useless anyway. In the end, even the victories I had mean nothing. Acceptance brings me joy.
Mollie: Do you practice acceptance of what is in a conscious way with the goal of greater inner peace?
Mary-Lou: I practice acceptance every day. It gets easier as I get older, or perhaps I’ve just had more practice. I don’t practice acceptance with any goal in mind. I practice it because it’s easier than any alternative I’ve found … and I’ve tried quite a few. Ranting and railing, pushing the river, complaining, playing the victim, playing the star, being a martyr … none of these proved very successful. Acceptance is a much more peaceful way to be. It’s not a goal, it just is.
Mollie: When and how did you begin this practice? How has it affected your life?
Mary-Lou: I first learned about acceptance in 12-step programs. The Serenity Prayer was a revelation to me. I always thought it was my job to change other people, places and things. When I discovered the only thing I could change was myself I felt as though a huge weight had been lifted from me. I didn’t have to be responsible for all that stuff I thought I was responsible for; in fact, I couldn’t be responsible for it and didn’t have any business trying to be. I just let it all go. This gave me incredible freedom. As my meditation practice grew and became stronger so did my ability to be a witness to what was going on around me without having to buy into it. Being able to witness my own thoughts was an amazing breakthrough. I am not my thoughts … which is just as well because they’re crazy!
Mollie: Can you offer any advice to people who would like to learn how to be more accepting of hardship and to use it to their benefit?
Mary-Lou: Don’t blame yourself. Don’t blame your karma. Things just happen. Most times it has nothing to do with you. It’s horrible and it’s hard but it’s not personal. God, the Universe or karma are not out to get you. Learn the lesson and move on. Also, don’t expect to get over hurts or grief quickly. You won’t. And some things will be with you for the rest of your life. Once I learnt to accept that, I was a lot more peaceful. I used to think I had to rise above the bad, forgive everything and everyone, not have any negative thoughts, blah, blah, blah. Now I know I’m not perfect and I don’t expect to be. Some feelings stick with us for a reason–as a warning or as a blessing. Many situations I’ve been through have helped me to relate to others better. They’ve also been beneficial when offering a shoulder or an ear.
Mollie: What are a few of your foundational spiritual beliefs?
Mary-Lou: When I was growing up my parents were heavily involved with the Charismatic Christian movement—lots of speaking in tongues and prophesying, healing and excitement. As a child I was very much wrapped up in that world … a world where God was love but also any negative feelings or misgivings were pushed away and ignored. If you felt bad, clearly you weren’t praying hard enough. As a teenager I felt bad all the time and so became increasingly disenchanted with those that were reaching to heaven but ignoring what was going on at their feet.
In twelve-step programs I was told I could believe in a God of my own understanding. God could be a color, the sun, the wind or anything I wanted, just as long as God was a power greater than myself. This was liberating. Slowly, and with a few missteps, I developed a relationship with a God of my own understanding, one that had nothing to do with religion or other people’s beliefs. This God was a God I could rely on, lean on, talk to, be reassured by. I didn’t have to be good for this God to love me. I didn’t have to do penance or chant the right prayers or go to church. This God loved me just as I was, no matter what I did … but living a life of good thoughts and actions helped me love and live with myself.
These days, God just is. God is in everything, everywhere—a benign, loving presence. This gives me a sense of peace.
Mollie:What are the specific spiritual practices that you prefer (i.e., journaling, meditation, etc.)?
Mary-Lou: I used to use specific techniques—journaling, meditating at a set time for a set amount of time and the like—but now acceptance, witnessing my thoughts and meditation are all part of my day. I don’t put them in specific time slots. It’s more like breathing. It just is without me having to do anything.
Mollie: What do you mean by witnessing your thoughts?
Mary-Lou: I observe my thoughts and decide whether or not to engage with them. This is a benefit of meditation. In meditation I don’t try to stop my thoughts (impossible!). Instead, I watch them as they do their crazy dance. The more I observe my thoughts, the more I realize how funny they are. And to think they used to rule my world. No wonder I was so unhappy. I believed what I was thinking was true when most of it is just reaction and craving. Life is a lot more peaceful now and although peace and happiness might have been my goal when I first started meditating I don’t think about goals at all anymore. So many goals are counter-productive.
Mollie: Do you practice acceptance of what is in a conscious way with the goal of greater inner peace?
Mary-Lou: I practice acceptance every day. It gets easier as I get older, perhaps because I’ve just had more practice. I don’t practice acceptance with any goal in mind. I practice it because it’s easier than any alternative I’ve found … and I’ve tried quite a few: ranting and railing, pushing the river, complaining, playing the victim, playing the star, being a martyr … none of these proved very successful. Acceptance is a much more peaceful way to be. It’s not a goal, it just is.
Mollie: When and how did you begin this practice? How has it affected your life?
Mary-Lou: I first learned about acceptance in twelve-step programs. The Serenity Prayer was a revelation to me. I always thought it was my job to change other people, places and things. When I discovered the only thing I could change was myself I felt as though a huge weight had been lifted from me. I didn’t have to be responsible for all that stuff I thought I was responsible for; in fact, I couldn’t be responsible for it and didn’t have any business trying to be. I just let it all go. This gave me incredible freedom. As my meditation practice grew and became stronger, so did my ability to be a witness to what was going on around me without my having to buy into it. Being able to witness my own thoughts was an amazing breakthrough. I am not my thoughts … which is just as well because they’re crazy!
Mollie: Can you offer any advice to people who would like to learn how to be more accepting of hardship and to use it to their benefit?
Mary-Lou: Don’t blame yourself. Don’t blame your karma. Things just happen. Most times it has nothing to do with you. It’s horrible and it’s hard but it’s not personal. God, the Universe or karma are not out to get you. Learn the lesson and move on. Also, don’t expect to get over hurts or grief quickly. You won’t. And some things will be with you for the rest of your life. Once I learnt to accept that, I was a lot more peaceful. I used to think I had to rise above the bad, forgive everything and everyone, not have any negative thoughts, blah, blah, blah. Now I know I’m not perfect and I don’t expect to be. Some feelings stick with us for a reason—as a warning or as a blessing. Many situations I’ve been through have helped me to relate to others better. They’ve also been beneficial when offering a shoulder or an ear.
Thanks to a hunch and a great title, I purchased Sex, Drugs and Meditation on Amazon–and liked it even more than I expected I would. So I wrote the author, Mary-Lou Stephens, to ask if I could share a true law of attraction success story from the book on this site. She kindly agreed.
Here is the story of how Mary-Lou got started in her long, fulfilling radio career after years of playing in bands. It begins when she runs into an acquaintance, Chris, just after her band broke up.
“I knew Chris, one of the announcers, would be [at the event]. He’d interviewed me about my music a few times and occasionally played my songs on his program. We had formed a friendship.
“He was pleased to see me, even in the circumstances, and suggested we meet up for lunch while I was in town. Later that week we ate and talked about life and death. I poured my heart out about the band breaking up. I told Chris how it had left me devastated and unsure of what to do next. Even though . . . my troubles seemed trivial, it still hurt . . .
“When I finished he paused, looked at me and uttered one life-changing sentence. ‘Mary-Lou, you want to be in radio.’
“I knew he was right. It was a pure light bulb moment. I could feel the glow above my head.
“‘I do.’ It was astounding. ‘But I didn’t know that until right now. How did you know?’
“‘Because I know radio and I know you. It’s a perfect match.’
“It was true. I came alive when I was being interviewed in a radio studio. I loved the sense of performance. I’d performed all my life in one form or another. Radio condensed performance down to one person, one microphone, one listener. A pure connection. I’d almost forgotten that I had presented a show on community radio in Hobart when I was in my early twenties. It was supposed to be an arts show. I interviewed musicians and bands. My natural curiosity was given a legitimate outlet. But when I left Hobart for acting school in Melbourne I never gave radio another thought.
“I stayed in Hobart for a few more days and caught up with a friend. She suggested we check out the short films being shown at the AFTRS graduate screenings. AFTRS was the most prestigious film and TV school in Australia and she was keen to see what the new young filmmakers were doing. During the intermission the dean talked about the school.
“‘The Australian Film, Television and Radio School . . .’ he began. And that’s when I stopped listening. Radio school? It was always called the Film and TV School. I knew people who had studied there. I’d even been to the campus in Sydney, and no one ever mentioned a radio component. Until that night I’d never realised the R in AFTRS stood for radio.
“This was too close to be coincidence, only days after Chris had told me I should be in radio, this was a sign.
. . .
“Within a week of arriving back in Sydney I bumped into Simon. He and I moved in the same circle of musicians and artists.
“‘I’ve been trying to track you down,’ he said. ‘I’m now the program director for a new aspirant public radio station.’
“‘What’s that?’ I heard the word radio. The rest was unfamiliar.
“‘We don’t have a full licence yet but we’re working towards it. At the moment we broadcast in two to four week blocks whenever we’re given a frequency. I was hoping you’d present a show for us. Are you interested?’
‘”‘You want me to do a radio show?’
“‘I think you’d be great. What do you say?’
“Within a week of discovering my true vocation I was being offered a gig on air. Another sign. A miracle! I said yes.”
For more information on this law of attraction author and story, see:
It’s not really New Age. (No one seems to love that term, do they?) It’s not really New Thought, since that’s more specific. And it sure as heck isn’t Buddhist, Christian, Jewish or any other more easily defined belief system.
It’s the brand of spirituality we sometimes call “spiritual but not religious.” Even though we know that it’s a terrible term. I mean, it’s a good, accurate way to describe my philosophy and that of a rapidly growing segment of society. But man, is it a mouthful. Maybe we need to use the acronym instead: SBNR. Okay, maybe we don’t.
Let’s do “alternative spirituality” instead.
Here, then, is my Other Best Alternative Spirituality Books list. It follows on the heels of a handful of other, more specific Best Alternative Spirituality Book lists. This is the stuff that is not easily labeled–the stuff that bookstores don’t quite know what to do with, the stuff they might stick in the Spiritual/Inspirational or the New Age category and call it good. Of course, there are plenty more books on my lists that could fit into this category, too. However, if there’s a more specific list on my site that fits it better, I chose to just keep it there.
I chose the books in the first section because they inspired me deeply, changed me for the better and helped me find greater inner peace. The second section features many of the other general inspirational books I’ve come across but may not have read yet.
By the way, don’t let the title fool you: This is one of my favorite book categories. These books are a bit different, but in a good way.
Other Best Alternative Spirituality Books is an ongoing project. Check back here or subscribe on the right for updates.
The Work of Byron Katie: An Introduction, Byron Katie Loving What Is: Four Questions That Can Change Your Life, Byron Katie and Stephen Mitchell Who Would You Be Without Your Story?: Dialogues with Byron Katie, Byron Katie I Need Your Love – Is That True?: How to Stop Seeking Love, Approval, and Appreciation and Start Finding Them, Byron Katie and Michael Katz A Thousand Names for Joy: Living in Harmony with the Way Things Are, Byron Katie and Stephen Mitchell A Mind at Home With Itself: How Asking Four Questions Can Free Your Mind, Open Your Heart and Turn Your World Around, Byron Katie What I Know for Sure, Oprah Winfrey The Shack, William Young Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis Heretics, G.K. Chesterton
Other Recommended Alternative Spirituality Books:
Various Audio and Video Recordings, Byron Katie and Byron Katie International
Question Your Thinking, Change The World: Quotations from Byron Katie, Byron Katie A Friendly Universe: Sayings to Inspire and Challenge You, Byron Katie Loving What Is: 52 Meditations on Reality (Card Deck), Byron Katie Byron Katie’s “Katieisms”: Inner Wisdom Cards (Card Deck), Byron Katie and Hans Wilhelm
The Dancing Wu Li Masters: An Overview of the New Physics, Gary Zukav The Seat of the Soul, Gary Zukav Thoughts from the Seat of the Soul, Gary Zukav The Heart of the Soul: Emotional Awareness, Gary Zukav and Linda Francis Thoughts from the Heart of the Soul: Meditations for Emotional Awareness, Gary Zukav and Linda Francis The Mind of the Soul: Responsible Choice, Gary Zukav and Linda Francis Self-Empowerment Journal: A Companion to The Mind of the Soul: Responsible Choice, Gary Zukav and Linda Francis Spiritual Partnership, Gary Zukav Soul to Soul, Gary Zukav Soul Stories, Gary Zukav
Don Miguel Ruiz:
The Four Agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz The Fifth Agreement: A Practical Guide to Self-Mastery (Toltec Wisdom), Don Miguel Ruiz and Don Jose Ruiz The Mastery of Love: A Practical Guide to the Art of Relationship, Don Miguel Ruiz The Four Agreements Companion Book: Using The Four Agreements to Master the Dream of Your Life, Don Miguel Ruiz Prayers: A Communion with Our Creator, Don Miguel Ruiz Wisdom from the Four Agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz Wisdom from the Mastery of Love, Don Miguel Ruiz The Voice of Knowledge: A Practical Guide To Inner Peace, Don Miguel Ruiz The Toltec Art of Life and Death, Don Miguel Ruiz
A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of a “Course in Miracles,” Marianne Williamson
The Law of Divine Compensation: On Work, Money, and Miracles, Marianne Williamson
Enchanted Love: The Mystical Power of Intimate Relationships, Marianne Williamson Imagine What America Could Be in the 21st Century: Visions of a Better Future from Leading American Thinkers, Marianne Williamson Healing the Soul of America: Reclaiming Our Voices as Spiritual Citizens, Marianne Williamson A Woman’s Worth, Marianne Williamson Everyday Grace: Having Hope, Finding Forgiveness, And Making Miracles, Marianne Williamson Illuminata: A Return to Prayer, Marianne Williamson The Gift of Change, Marianne Williamson
David R. Hawkins:
Power Versus Force: The Hidden Determinants of Human Behavior, David Hawkins
Letting Go: The Pathway of Surrender, David R. Hawkins Transcending the Levels of Consciousness: The Stairway to Enlightenment, David R. Hawkins Transcending the Levels of Consciousness: Live Your Life Like a Prayer, David R. Hawkins Success Is for You: Using Heart-Centered Power Principles for Lasting Abundance and Fulfillment, David R. Hawkins The Eye of the I: From Which Nothing Is Hidden, David R. Hawkins Truth vs Falsehood:How to Tell the Difference, David R. Hawkins I: Reality and Subjectivity, David R. Hawkins Dissolving the Ego, Realizing the Self: Contemplations from the Teachings of David R. Hawkins, David R. Hawkins and Scott Jeffrey Discovery of the Presence of God: Devotional NonDuality, David R. Hawkins Reality, Spirituality and Modern Man, David R. Hawkins Dealing with the CrazyMakers in Your Life: Setting Boundaries on Unhealthy Relationships, David R. Hawkins Along the Path to Enlightenment: 365 Daily Reflections from David R. Hawkins, David R. Hawkins and Scott Jeffrey The Ultimate David Hawkins Library, David R. Hawkins When Pleasing Others Is Hurting You: Finding God’s Patterns for Healthy Relationships, David R. Hawkins Breaking Everyday Addictions: Finding Freedom from the Things That Trip Us Up, David R. Hawkins Never Fight Again . . . Guaranteed!: Groundbreaking Practices for a Win-Win Marriage, David R. Hawkins The Power of Emotional Decision Making: Using Your God-Given Emotions for Positive Change, David R. Hawkins Stumbling Toward Obedience: Learning from Jonah’s Failure to Love God and the People He Came to Save, David R. Hawkins The Clear Pathway to Enlightenment-Four CD Set, David R. Hawkins Project Y: The Los Alamos Story. Part I: Toward Trinity. Part II: Beyond Trinity, David R. Hawkins and Edith C. Truslow In the World, but Not of It: Living Spiritually in the Modern World, David R. Hawkins Healing and Recovery, David R. Hawkins The Discovery: Revealing the Presence of God in your Life, David R. Hawkins Normal People Do the Craziest Things, David R. Hawkins
Remembering Wholeness: A Personal Handbook for Thriving in the 21st Century, Carol Tuttle It’s Just My Nature!, Carol Tuttle The Path to Wholeness: A Guide to Spiritual Healing & Empowerment for Survivors of Child Sexual & Spiritual Abuse, Carol Tuttle
The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho Burn, Baby, Burn, Evan Griffith Indigo Adults: Understanding Who You Are and What You Can Become, Kabir Jaffe and Ritama Davidson Personal Development for Smart People, Steve Pavlina Human Design: Discover the Person You Were Born to Be, Chetan Parkyn and Steve Dennis Understanding Human Design: The New Science of Astrology: Discover Who You Really Are, Karen Curry Human Design: The Definitive Book of Human Design, The Science of Differentiation, Ra Uru Hu and Lynda Bunnell The Open Secret, Tony Parsons Butterflies Are Free to Fly, Stephen Davis The Book on the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are, Alan Watts Keys to the Ultimate Freedom, Lester Levinson Past the Gate, Esther Teule God Goes to Work, Tom Zender The Outlook Beautiful, Lilian Whiting Kitchen Table Wisdom, Rachel Naomi Remen The Road Less Traveled: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values, and Spiritual Growth, Scott Peck Messages from Water and the Universe, Masaru Emoto Add More Ing to Your Life: A Hip Guide to Happiness, Gabrielle Bernstein
In Search of the Miraculous, P. D. Ouspensky Grace, Gaia, and the End of Days: An Alternative Way for the Advanced Soul, Stuart Wilde Live Your Bliss, Terry Cole-Whittaker What You Think of Me is None of My Business, Terry Cole-Whittaker The Future of Love, Daphne Rose Kingma Mystery Teachings From the Living Earth: An Introduction to Spiritual Ecology, John Mihael Greer The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible, Charles Eisenstein Living in the Heart: How to Enter into the Sacred Space within the Heart, Drunvalo Melchizedek Adventures of the Soul: Journeys Through the Physical and Spiritual Dimensions, James Van Praagh The Sculptor in the Sky, Teal Scott The Passion Test: The Effortless Path to Discovering Your Life Purpose, Janet Attwood and Chris Attwood The Soul’s Code: In Search of Character and Calling, James Hillman Living A Course in Miracles: An Essential Guide to the Classic Text, Jon Mundy PhD Kinship with All Life, J. Allen Boone The Reconnection: Heal Others, Heal Yourself, Eric Pearl The Seeker’s Guide, Elizabeth Lesser The Untethered Soul, Michael A. Singer Tao Te Ching, Stephen Mitchell A Monk in the World: Cultivating a Spiritual Life, Wayne Teasdale
Me: Sometimes, we’re happy just because we’re happy. Other times, it takes a lot of work. What do you tell people who, unlike you, struggle with negativity and other emotional stuff on a daily basis?
Leta: My advice is to love what is. Just that.
Me: How? Can you give me a much clearer, more practical idea of what’s going on in your head as you are loving and appreciating throughout your day? Maybe a small example of a few moments inside your head?
Leta: Often, my head is just saying, “I love God.” I have thoughts. I’m human, after all. But my head is empty probably a lot more than most humans.
I will meet people I don’t like. I will encounter things and situations I don’t like. They may even be grotesque to my sensibilities. However, I am challenged to love the divine within all things. I am challenged to be One with all things. I am challenged to broaden my perspective so that I find the divine innocence at the heart of everything. I am challenged to love and accept everyone, even people I don’t like. If I meet someone I don’t like, I ask myself if this is a situation I can change. Am I willing to put forth the effort to like them (which would mean changing everything about myself, going into another personality and being someone I am not)? The answer is no. However, I can see the divine innocence in them. I can understand them and love them even though I may not like them. None of it scares me. I love it all. I have a relationship with myself that allows for constant self-inquiry leading to understanding and love that takes me beyond the disconnected to the connected. I have so much fun.
If you don’t love a great dear neath experience book, check your pulse; you’re probably already dead. (Miss you.) That said, books in this sub-genre are not all created equal. Some are super inspiring, while others just aren’t quite to my taste. A lot of them come from a religious perspective I don’t agree with and others are, well, a bit corny. That said, the stories themselves (sans lesson plan) can be interesting regardless.
I chose the books in the first list below because I’ve read and enjoyed them and because they offer good, practical life advice. If you want to get more immersed the subject, though, try the books in the “Other Recommended Near Death Experience Books” section. I chose them because they’re either well-known, seemingly well-researched, or just recommended on some website somewhere. (High standards, I know.)
My favorite book from this list: Dying To Be Me: My Journey from Cancer, to Near Death, to True Healing by Anita-Moorjani. That book is definitely my friend.
Best Near Death Experience Books is part of a larger project, a curriculum I’m writing called Books I Want My Kids to Read Someday. Like this list, it’s an ongoing, possibly unending, project. Check back here or subscribe on the right for updates.
Dying To Be Me: My Journey from Cancer, to Near Death, to True Healing, Anita-Moorjani Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife, Eben Alexander Life After Life: The Bestselling Original Investigation That Revealed “Near-Death Experiences”, Raymond Moody Science and the Near-Death Experience: How Consciousness Survives Death, Chris Carter Visions, Trips, and Crowded Rooms: Who and What You See Before You Die, David Kessler
Other Recommended Near Death Experience Books:
Application of Impossible Things: A Near Death Experience in Iraq, Natalie Sudman Mindsight: Near-Death and Out-of-Body Experiences in the Blind, Kenneth Ring Imagine Heaven: Near-Death Experiences, God’s Promises, and the Exhilarating Future That Awaits You, John Burke and Don Piper Beyond Sight: The True Story of a Near-Death Experience, Marion Rome Near Death in the ICU: Stories from Patients Near Death and Why We Should Listen to Them, Laurin Bellg MD Evidence of the Afterlife: The Science of Near-Death Experiences, Jeffrey Long and Paul Perry God and the Afterlife: The Groundbreaking New Evidence for God and Near-Death Experience, Jeffrey Long and Paul Perry My Journey to Heaven: What I Saw and How It Changed My Life, Marvin J. Besteman and Lorilee Craker Love The Person You’re With: Life-Changing Insights from the Most Compelling Near-Death Experiences Ever Recorded, David Sunfellow Dying to Wake Up: A Doctor’s Voyage into the Afterlife and the Wisdom He Brought Back, Rajiv Parti and Raymond Moody Life After Death, Powerful Evidence You Will Never Die, Stephen Hawley Martin Real Messages From Heaven: And Other True Stories of Miracles, Divine Intervention and Supernatural Occurrences, Faye Aldridge Near-Death Experiences, The Rest of the Story: What They Teach Us About Living and Dying and Our True Purpose, P. M. H. Atwater Embraced By The Light, Betty J. Eadie Consciousness Beyond Life: The Science of the Near-Death Experience, Pim van Lommel Near-Death Experiences Examined: Medical Findings and Testimonies from Lourdes, Patrick Theillier Awakenings from the Light: 12 Life Lessons from a Near Death Experience, Nancy Rynes Near-Death Experiences as Evidence for the Existence of God and Heaven: A Brief Introduction in Plain Language, J. Steve Miller and Jeffrey Long Near Death Experiences of Doctors and Scientists: Doctors, and Scientists Describe Their Personal Near-Death Experiences, John J. Graden Wisdom of Near-Death Experiences: How Understanding NDEs Can Help Us Live More Fully, Penny Sartori and Pim van Lommel The Night I Spoke to God: A Miraculous True Story of A Near-Death Experience, Michael L. Eads The Gifts of Near-Death Experiences: You Don’t Have to Die to Experience Your True Home, Sheila Fabricant Linn and Dennis Linn How To Stop Negative Thoughts: What My Near-Death-Experience Taught Me About Mind Loops, Neuroscience, and Happiness, Barbara Ireland Surviving Death: A Journalist Investigates Evidence for an Afterlife, Leslie Kean NDE: They Went To Heaven And Back – Stories of People That Got A Second Chance, Gerard Radcliff The Big Book of Near-Death Experiences: The Ultimate Guide to What Happens When We Die, P.M.H. Atwater
Me: What is the essence of meditation? What is it, really?
Leta: What is real about meditation other than the practice of being present in your body, experiencing an IS-ness and connecting to a bigger-than-small-you field? There is no real meditation in my experience. Anything that promotes a feeling of bigger-than-small-you experience is a meditation. It can be folding the laundry, washing the dishes, sitting down on the toilet and so much more! There is meditation in everything. It is how you approach the experience that counts. Like a plug, we can plug in anything we do in our daily lives into the socket of “bigger-than-small-me” experience. This is the key to meditation in my experience.