Mollie: Can you tell me when your depression began, as far as you know? Was there an event that brought it on?
Katie: My depression started as a teenager because I was bullied for being weird and different. But many years later, these were traits I slowly learned to love for how they caused me to break the mold and not always follow the status quo.
Mollie: What were the turning points for you?
Katie: Discovering the world of personal development was a big turning point for me. I discovered personal development when I started looking for the answer to the question, “How can a person be happy?” and realized that you have to create the changes in your own life that lead to happiness. I started reading books from people like Jack Canfield (The Success Principles) and also developing more of a spiritual practice and incorporating new things into my life like meditation, mindfulness, and teachings from the Dalai Lama and Pema Chodron.
Mollie: What was your most effective strategy when starting out? Did the results last? What did you try after that?
I still do forgiveness work regularly. It’s like having a regular practice of gratitude or any other positive habit. Sometimes forgiving can be difficult, but you can remember the quote, “Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”
Healing your past is a good place to start, and from there you can add more positivity into your life.
Mollie: Do you believe that you were or are wired differently from other people? Meaning, do you have depression due to a chemical imbalance that is part of your DNA? Also, do you believe your depression can be healed completely?
Katie: I’m not sure I’m qualified to answer that, but I do feel that depression has both biological reasons and reasons caused by situations and circumstances in your life. I also think your beliefs, attitude, and thought patterns can have a big impact on how happy you are.
Mollie: Final question: On a scale of 1-10, how effective is forgiveness for healing depression?
Katie: I’ll give it a 7. It depends on what factors are contributing to the person’s depression, though.
“You couldn’t relive your life, skipping the awful parts, without losing what made it worthwhile. You had to accept it as a whole–like the world, or the person you loved.” ― Stewart O’Nan, The Odds: A Love Story
In the journey with and through depression, there are many, many turning points. It’s a spiral: You circle, and circle, and circle, but each turn is actually a move upward as well as back.
One of the turning points that I experienced recently regarding my depression was when I decided to appreciate the experience. Here’s how that happened.
One of the most difficult life situations I’ve found myself was my third pregnancy trimester with my third child. I was exhausted and very moody, and then I decided to take on an extra challenge: potty training.
Both kids needed help with this. Okay, not just help–total teaching. And even before beginning I knew how hard it would be. I knew that this was the time that I’d need to dig deep, really deep, so I could grow from the experience rather than just getting through it. My plan: I would appreciate my hardships.
I had just read Matt Kahn’s Whatever Arises, Love That and I was determined to put his advice to the test. In the book he says that the most profound spiritual practice for him is to meet every situation that comes with one thought: I love this.
So I did. I remember one night in particular after an especially rough day that all I could do was sit out on the front porch, knees to chin, and cry. Well–that wasn’t quite all I did. I also reflected deeply on how much change I could feel happening inside. It felt like a wrenching, but also real change. Real growth. Growth that would not have come without a challenge like this.
At the end of that first week of potty training, I wrote the following journal entry:
Saturday: I am learning so, so much. Not knowledge-learning—really learning. Practicing. Changing my mind. Changing my habitual knee-jerk reactions. More specifically what I’m learning is:
How not to try to fix things all the time.
How to achieve inner peace in spite of turmoil and stress, and in the midst of it.
How not to try to fix things as my first impulse, but to first sit with the feeling, then fix it.
To truly love what is—meaning, to truly accept that my life will never be perfect and is not meant to be perfect, in spite of what some overzealous proponents of the law of attraction would have me believe. It’s not all about changing, fixing, getting, improving. It’s really all about acceptance.
Here is a summary of the past week and a half: poop on kitchen floor, playroom floor, office floor, friend’s floor, and in the bathtub; pee reminders/power struggles every 45 minutes for two kids; pee on every floor; pee in the bed; pee refusal temper tantrums two or three times per day; carpet cleaning; toilet misses; and a stinky bathroom for a week … learning how to say no more often; learning to be stricter and allow and ignore temper tantrums; and learning how to be more consistent with consequences.
What’s strange is that in spite of this, and in contrast to the depression I’ve been feeling so strongly lately, right now I’m happy. All week as the challenges came I took them one by one, and while doing so repeated a mantra in my head: This is the good stuff.
For the first time in my life, maybe, I’m really knowing the value of pain. Really loving the process even though it feels so unlovely at times. I’m realizing that I can be happy, even about my sadness. I am finally achieving inner peace.
“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.” ― Lao Tzu
“For after all, the best thing one can do when it is raining is let it rain.” ― Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
“We think that the point is to pass the test or overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It’s just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.” ― Pema Chödrön, When Things Fall Apart: Heartfelt Advice for Hard Times
“Once there was a young warrior. Her teacher told her that she had to do battle with fear. …Then the young warrior said, “How can I defeat you?” Fear replied, “My weapons are that I talk fast, and I get very close to your face. Then you get completely unnerved, and you do whatever I say. If you don’t do what I tell you, I have no power. You can listen to me, and you can have respect for me. You can even be convinced by me. But if you don’t do what I say, I have no power.” In that way, the student warrior learned how to defeat fear.” ― Pema Chödrön, When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times
Let’s face it. Alternative spirituality books are written for one reason and one reason only: to make us feel good. It’s not about self-improvement. It’s not about making the world a better place. We just want to crack the code for inner peace.
Fortunately for us, lots of them deliver. Not always as completely as promised, but let’s not be too picky. Most of us have a healthy number of issues to figure out. It’s a bit much for any one teacher to deal with.
Which is why many of us spiritual types read every good book on the subject we can find. Some give us practical techniques. Some shake up our entire perspective. Others simply offer a bit of hope.
And still others do none of the above.
In the following pieces, I offer my Inner Peace Greatest Hits–the spiritual-but-not-religious books that over the years have helped me become a happier, more fulfilled person. Each top-level entry links to a full article on the book that includes a personal anecdote and notes on the book.
Best Alternative Spirituality Books is an ongoing project. Subscribe on the right for updates.
Self-improvement tips for the self-obsessed (like me): that’s pretty much what you’ll find here. Some are spiritual, some are secular, some are well-known and some are a bit kooky … but, in my experience, all of them work. At least, they work to some degree. (Even the kooky ones.)
78 Alternative Spirituality Life Hacks
The Spiritual Stuff:
Get a mantra–or two or three
Know the power of your mind
Know that you are strong, beautiful and holy
Don’t define your morality too strictly
Don’t put God in a box
Believe that you can
Read spiritual books
The Shallow Stuff:
Have nice friends
Buy new clothes
Get a (healthy) addiction
Play video games
Cut Your hair
Figure out what you want
Get what you want
Get a job
Get some money
Live somewhere you love to be
Travel, even if you don’t want to
Shop for friends
Get a hobby–or two or three
Sometimes, just take a long bath or shower
The Serious Stuff:
Pretend you’re already the best version of you
Don’t try to be funnier, cuter, happier or smarter than you are
Don’t believe all your thoughts
Understand human nature
Read books on psychology
Let yourself feel your feelings deeply
Cultivate a romance with yourself
Reconsider what you really need
Always get some perspective
Always tell yourself the truth
Find out who you are and do it on purpose
Be a real grownup
Get things done
Stop the little sadness before it gets too big
Sometimes, just give yourself a break
Read amazing, paradigm-shifting nonfiction
Throw out the blueprint
Don’t be too busy, but don’t get bored
Screw variety; do what works
Know when to try and when to just let things happen
Know that life is a game and play it on purpose
Be as intellectually flexible as you can be
Try, and try, and then try some more
Don’t expect too much of other people
Be passionate about a few wonderful things, and don’t hide your passion
Don’t assume anything about anyone, ever
Don’t hate optimists
Let people go that are gone
Beware of middle age and complacency
Make lofty goals
Keep a monthly checklist and put everything you need to do there, all in one spot
Find the beauty in your seeming flaws
Find the better-feeling interpretation in every situation
Find “flow”–at work and everywhere else you can
Notice your negativity
Don’t play the guilt trip game, especially on yourself
Do something nice for others at least once a week
Always do what you’re afraid to do
Don’t try to stand out for its own sake
Learn to love your own mistakes and to admit when you’re wrong
Contributor: Guy Hoffman. Guy is a full-time Florida-based artist and the founder of OmArtist.com, a blog dedicated to showcasing people who are creative with a purpose. Guy is an energy artist who creates figurative and abstract art with healing energy infused in each piece as he creates them. You can see Guy’s work on Instagram by following @creative365 as well as visiting GuyHoffmanArt.com.
My depression existed long before I recognized it. Here’s the short version of how it came to be.
First came my divorce in 2009. Shortly after that, in 2010, I became the caretaker for my mom who had a number of health issues. In 2013, about the third year into caring for my mom, I realized that something in me had changed. There were many times I felt that I was constantly moody, impatient and resentful, especially towards people in my family for not helping me with the care of my mom. I was sad, I felt alone and the things I loved doing (art, meditation, gardening, etc.) were dropping away quickly. I think that was the beginning for me but I hadn’t recognized it yet. In my head I just didn’t have time for anything else and when I did I was too exhausted to care. This would continue to get worse until 2016.
What happened next was my biggest fear come true. In December 2015 my mom was diagnosed with Stage Four cancer. We were devastated. It was a week before Christmas and we carried on with our family traditions for the holiday, trying to make the best of the situation, but the reality was a lot to take for my mom and quite frankly for me, too. I watched her decline very quickly and the medical system had me so disappointed and so discouraged.
Cancer didn’t end up taking my mom from us. On January 22, 2016, she had massive stroke. She never regained consciousness and passed away the next day.
It wasn’t but a few days afterward that I fell into a darkness. Once all the medical equipment was removed and the house was quiet again, I was lost. I had been a caregiver for so long and now I was free of that responsibility. It was a blessing and curse.
I felt the initial relief of no longer having such an emotional and time-consuming care regimen but in the emotional mix, too, was the need to get used to all this time and quietness. A week later a friend asked me if I was okay. He said, “You haven’t been yourself for a long time. You haven’t created, written or photographed any work in so long and now you’re so sad, man. You need to get back to creating. You need to find your passion again and start healing.” Of course, he offered me any help I might need.
At first I didn’t listen to this advice. I was wallowing in my sadness. My dad had passed in 2010. I had this alone feeling that I can’t explain. My parents, the people who created me, were gone. My work at my job suffered. My physical health was declining.
In March 2016, six weeks after my mother’s passing, I decided to take a much-needed vacation from work. It was during that vacation that I connected with something in me that began the healing process. I felt like I needed to try to get back to some old practices and if I couldn’t make a change on my own I would need to get help.
I began to research natural and holistic practices that might help my depression. I improved my diet. I looked to nature for some help. There was some improvement. If I had to identify a turning point it would be sitting on a hill over looking a farm on a rainy day. I had been hiking and stopped to rest. I had been writing in a journal and I took it out and placed under my jacket to keep it dry while I thought about my next entry. Then, for whatever reason, I began to speak out loud. This speaking became an emotional conversation with my mom. I cried, then cried some more. This was the start of my healing. I could clearly identify how I was not living authentically. I knew what toxic things needed to be removed from my life in order to get healthy.
My recovery plan was to return to living in the moment. Mindful practices were the way forward for me. I resumed many of the practices that I had abandoned while being a caregiver. Along with exercising and eating right, I started meditating again. On a bad day I might meditate many times throughout the day.
Four months later I quit my high-paying but highly stressful job and returned to my creative practices. This is something that I am so grateful for. Art heals the mind, body and soul. I’m a testament to that.
For me, creativity plays a role in keeping me balanced. That depression I left behind still lives in me. If I deprive myself of creativity, I can feel it creeping back in. When my depression was at its worst, I was lucky
enough to realize that creativity would, at the very least, help me feel better in the moment. Then, when I returned to my creative practices I felt alive again. Without it I felt as though I had been missing this thing that I couldn’t quite put my finger on until I began to create again.
Today, my daily creative time is spent around drawing, painting, photography, writing poetry and many other creative practices that speak to me. I’m an explorer of creativity. For me there is a spiritual element to
being creative. There is a meditative quality to it that brings me joy. What better way to balance the darkness of life, than with the light of joy! What better way to live in the moment than to be fully engaged in the “thing” you are creating. I have used my art to express the nagging stuck emotions as well as the surprises of this beautiful life. In both cases I feel the benefits of creativity.
No one’s life is perfect, so whether I use my creativity to release darkness to allow my light to shine or just to express how grateful I am to be living a life that is authentic to me, either way I am left with this feeling of being grounded or balanced. For me that is what pulled me out of my depression. That is what continues to teach me how to balance all of the emotions, feelings, expectations and disappointments that I experience in
I think every human has the innate ability to create. Even those who say or think “I don’t have a creative bone in my body”. People often want to narrow creativity to just drawing or painting but it has many forms. Everyone can find a creative endeavor to dedicate time to, such as cooking, decorating, art, music, photography, writing, crafting, coloring, gardening and on and on! There are so many ways to be creative, we simply need only try a few to see what we connect to or what makes our heart sing. That is the true power of creativity. It teaches us patience, acceptance, concentration, and it keeps us fully in the moment, to name but a few benefits. The lessons are endless but so is the feeling of joy once you find which creative practice really makes you feel alive. What makes me feel alive is to explore all things creative!
My healing began in March 2016 and continues today. I am aware enough now to know the difference between healthy thoughts and thoughts that can damage my healing. I know in my heart that the practices I do daily have everything to do with living healthy and depression-free but more importantly I know that the practices and the creativity are the way I live authentically. As long as I live in this authentic way I feel healthy and strong to take on any of life’s challenges as they come.
“Man will begin to recover the moment he takes art as seriously as physics, chemistry or money.” ~ Ernst Levy
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 email@example.com, 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.
What could be better than a great alternative spirituality book that’s also free? Not much. Not much at all. But if you’ve ever done a Google search for “free spiritual ebook” or “free alternative spirituality ebook,” you know it’s not that easy. There are thousands and thousands of these volumes online, some from ages ago and some published just last week. Where do you start?
My advice: Start with the classics. Not just any of the classics, though; the ones that have received wide appreciation. Then take my advice (and the advice of others) on the modern stuff.
I chose these books because they inspired me deeply, changed me for the better, and helped me find greater inner peace. Let me know what else is out there that deserves to be here and I will gratefully update this list.
Best Free Alternative Spirituality Ebooks is an ongoing project. Check back here or subscribe on the right for updates.
The Work of Byron Katie: An Introduction, Byron Katie Beginning Your Love Revolution, Matt Kahn Hoist on My Own Petard: Or: How Writing 10% Happier Threw My Own Advice Right Back in My Face, Dan Harris Autobiography of A Yogi, Paramahansa Yogananda As a Man Thinketh, James Allen Secret of the Ages, Robert Collier Be Still, Emmet Fox Think and Grow Rich, Napolean Hill Science of Mind, Ernest Holmes Feeling Is The Secret, Neville Goddard The Power of Positive Thinking, Norman Vincent Peale Scientific Christian Mental Practice, Emma Curtis Hopkins The Practice of the Presence of God, Brother Lawrence 100 Daily Messages Volumes One through Four, Leta Hamilton and Archangel Michael
I love buying books for myself. Like, a lot. But guess what? I love buying them for my kids even more.
Unfortunately, when it comes to the topic of alternative spirituality, children’s books are relatively rare. Here’s a list of those I’ve discovered so far. Please let me know of others you discover and fall in love with.
Best Alternative Spirituality Books for Children:
Sara, Book 1: Sara Learns the Secret About the Law of Attraction, Esther Hicks and Jerry Hicks Sara, Book 2: Solomon’s Fine Featherless Friend, Esther Hicks Sara, Book 3: A Talking Owl is Worth a Thousand Words!, Esther Hicks Sara and the Foreverness of Friends of a Feather, Esther Hicks and Jerry Hicks Om Baby, Child of the Universe, Schamet Horsfield Sitting Still Like a Frog: Mindfulness Exercises for Kids (and Their Parents), Eline Snel Milton’s Secret, Eckhart Tolle Emir’s Education in the Proper Use of Magical Powers, Jane Roberts New Thought Children Stories, Christopher Morley Emma & Mommy Talk to God, Marianne Williamson I Am, Wayne Dyer and Kristina Tracy Incredible You!, Wayne Dyer and Kristina Tracy It’s Not What You’ve Got!, Wayne Dyer and Kristina Tracy No Excuses!, Wayne Dyer and Kristina Tracy Unstoppable Me!, Wayne Dyer and Kristina Tracy Tiger-Tiger, Is It True?: Four Questions to Make You Smile Again, Byron Katie and Hans Wilhelm The Four Questions: For Henny Penny and Anybody with Stressful Thoughts, Byron Katie and Hans Wilhelm Santa’s God: A Children’s Fable About the Biggest Question Ever,Neale Donald Walsch All the World, Liz Garton Scanlon Oh, The Places You’ll Go!, Dr. Seuss
Oh, the infamous law of attraction. We’ve all heard about it, and have potentially practiced it. There are some people who believe in the law strongly, while there are others that think it’s absolutely ridiculous.
I’ve had amazing experiences practicing positive thinking with the intent of manifesting my goals, but sometimes the greatest beauty comes in the little gifts that we receive from the Universe. Life is made up of moments, not extraordinary events, and the sycronicity that I notice in my day-to-day life is, honestly, what keeps me consistently in awe. Reading about elephants as a commercial comes on about elephants, receiving a call from a friend I was just about to reach out to, sitting next to someone on a flight who’s just as into quantum psychics as I am–these are not coincidences, these events are the law of attraction bringing the frequencies that I emit back into my physical existence. As I’ve become more spiritual, and have ultimately developed more of a direct connection to Source, I’ve seen more and more of this happening. My divine journey IS the destination, and tuning into my higher self allows for my third eye to notice even the most quaint of destined circumstances. I know that it is the grand manifestations, though, that are more sexy–and I’ve had my fair share of those as well.
Three months prior to my 21st birthday, I made the decision to move to Colorado to embark on the biggest adventure of my young life. I didn’t have any friends there, any family, a job, a place to live; heck, I’d never even visited the place before. But what I did have was a strong determination and unwavering faith that I was following my heart, my intuition, and the spiritual place where my guides speak to me. I knew it HAD to work out.
So, a month prior to leaving I flew out with my mother to find a place to live. I had my list of apartments with a perfectly calculated route to optimize our time there. Three days flew by, and . . . nothing. I felt discouraged as we began to accept the fact that our trip was failure.
Then, on our way back to our hotel, we passed a leasing company. I toured a beautiful apartment in Denver’s affluent Wash Park area that just so happened to be right in my price range. I was approved without a job, and made the big move a weekend after I turned 21. I then found an amazing job within two weeks of my move, and have had the opportunity to work with many inspiring start-up companies. My plan was live there for a year, but it took four years for my adventure to come to a completion in the beautiful state of Colorado. I would not be the person I am today without having made that move.
Six months after moving back to the state of Texas, I decided to take another leap of faith and quit my corporate job to launch my own marketing start-up company, The Auzenne Agency, which has allowed me the freedom to live my life according to my own terms. It has allowed for more time with family, the means to travel when I please, and to also truly make a true impact on other start-up companies.
Thinking positive thoughts emits positive energy which brings about the intuitive guidance for inspired action to achieve all that your heart desires.
Me: People describe the feeling of meditation in different ways. For some, it’s just relaxation. For me, it’s slightly increased peace–a bit of space between myself and my neurotic mind. What does meditation feel like to you?
Leta: When I meditate, I see myself as the vast universe. I feel a hugeness from the inside out that can only be described as vast empty space. When I see a photo of the universe, of galaxies and the lights emerging from them, the colors they display, I feel that is the best description, visually speaking, of what I feel inwardly as I meditate.
I feel the whole universe is the space of my inner self.
This feeling is cherished and it is why I return to meditation again and again. Even when I have moments without meditation (without that feeling of vastness from the inside out), I remember it and return to it. Whether I am in the kitchen, car or store, I return to the vastness I feel when I am in meditation. Maybe that explains why I maintain the notion that meditation is more than just sitting with eyes closed and legs crossed. It is any time the feeling of vastness comes over me.
Me: Are you able to feel this anytime, even when you’re not alone?
Leta: It is harder to accomplish in the company of others. When I am with others, I am pulled back into the world and the illusion of separation. I am pulled into the physicality present in our form-sense orientation. I am reminded of my humanness when I am with others. This is not a bad thing in and of itself. However, I desire the balance of isolation as well to accompany it. I desire my own time without having to speak to another soul as much as I desire human interaction, love, friendship, and all the things intertwined with human-experiencing.
So I only have this to say: meditate. Breathe. Give back to society in whatever way you can. Volunteer. Think about others in everything you do. Lose yourself happily, because you are seeking nothing. Nothing means no-thing. Give yourself permission not to have goals–to have the goal of loving what is every moment.
That is the most awesome goal of all.
Vision boards, the law of attraction, bringing into your reality what you visualize/hold in your mind, etc., are part of the game of living on earth and they have their place, but I am more interested in being the galaxy and all the galaxies. I am more interested in returning to that place of great big BIG-ness that I feel when I meditate.
It must be a rush of endorphins or whatever brain chemicals rush through my skull that cause me to be so drawn to that meditative state. It is pure bliss and it comes whenever I am focused, steady and silent in my Self. It comes whenever I tell it to, but that is after years of practice.
I love a heartfelt, person-to-person alternative spirituality blog. And of course, I love to hear different perspectives on spirituality–not just articles, but real opinions. These bloggers deliver on all these points. Hope you like them, too.
He’s not just spiritual. He’s creative. And his whole mission in life is to inspire you to be more creative, too–to make your dreams into goals, and goals into achievements. (Oh, and he’s a really good writer.)
What a duo these two are. And their message is really exceptional. Their blog could use a little more TLC, but I like keeping their work in my thoughts and learning about what they’re up to. And if you haven’t yet seen a Matt Kahn YouTube video, well, you may not yet truly be living. His videos are his real blog.
Spirituality, science, philosophy–always a great combination. This is a blog for people who like to keep up on the latest research in spiritual practice, particularly Buddhist practices and meditation.
Pavlina is a channel who writes about reincarnation, divination, omens and the like, bringing some common sense to her uncommon ability. Here’s a sample of her direct writing style:
“Let’s say you’re some bloke named Oliver Queen and you die, are you still Oliver Queen on the other side, like forever? Or do you become someone else? Something else?
People ask me variations of this question a lot …”
Other Top Alternative Spirituality Blogs:
Maybe these aren’t so much blogs as just websites with a bunch of good content. Either way, they merit attention, for obvious reasons. (Namely, that they have a huge following and promote authors who have changed the world.)