Tag Archives: Success Stories

Success Stories

Self-Help Success Story: "Sometimes, I Just Let Myself Hate Everything"

Every once in a while, I want to set fire to my brain. I want to light a match, and get a bucket of kerosene, and just go to town on it. The desire usually comes when my brain is on fire already, and it’s getting out of control. I figure that if I hasten the job, the whole thing will be over more quickly, and afterwards I can cool it off and start rebuilding.

Yeah, that’s the answer. More fire.

Allow me to explain.

A few months back, I was going through a rough time. So, I decided to try something a little different. I was sick of practicing acceptance, saying “love, love, love” and meditating all the time. I needed, instead, to vent.

The situation: bad behavior boot camp.

Have you ever tried this? Well, don’t. Or do. I don’t know yet. Results unclear. Regardless, it’s when you take your two whiny children and make them stay at home all day and fight with each other. Then you take every single one of those fights as a “learning opportunity,” complete with one-on-one conflict resolution coaching, the patience of a goddess and, of course, appropriate consequences.

You can guess how well this went. The good news? It inspired a new spiritual practice. I call it my “I hate this” meditation and that pretty much sums it up.

So maybe I’m the only person in the world to find this as helpful as I do. But on the off-chance that my experience can be replicated, here is a brief description of what I’ve been up to.

One of my favorite spiritual books is Loving What Arises, about, well, loving everything as a spiritual practice. Matt Kahn is the author. He’s a channel, though he doesn’t use that term, preferring the word “empath.” Basically, he holds lectures on the topics of love and spirituality, mostly love, and how to bring everything in our experience back to that.

So one day in the midst of this bad-behavior stuff, while attempting to do what Kahn suggests, I realized something: I didn’t want to love this. It felt fake. So, I tried something else instead. And it worked. So I tried it every day that week.

It still worked.

Here is the technique: You get alone, in a quiet spot, and start by saying the phrase “I hate.” Then you just let it rip.

I hate my outfit. I hate my hair. I hate the gym. I hate that person. I hate the morning.

You go on and on like this, getting it out, letting it go. Then you take a deep breath, and meditate a while.

This sucks so much, I think. But damn, am I growing. You know, as a person.

And then I call it a day.

Then what?

Then, about half the time, I get this feeling of gratitude. Something like, Wow. I’m okay. I’m doing it. I’m getting through it. How much awesomer am I going to be at life (in this case, parenting) after I get through this?

I feel truly grateful for my crap.

And then there’s something else that happens, also about half the time: A bit of positive thinking accidentally creeps in. It’s weird, really: there I am, trying my damndest to be negative, and my ego part—the part of all of us that makes reverse psychology so effective—starts arguing with my silly list. “I hate the gym,” I’ll say in all sincerity. And everything I appreciate about the gym—the childcare, the alone time, the dress code—will come to mind. Then I list the next thing—say, giving up dessert—and Reverse Me will do it again. “You don’t care about that. You love the food you eat. And you look really good, too.”

Then I argue that point a bit.

Ah, that ego. Always arguing. Mostly, it’s best to just ignore it. But every once in a while, we can outwit it instead.

Reverse psychology. It works.

So, in sum: I’m saying “I hate” over and over—and calling it a wellness practice. Take that, lame, phony life rules.

Admittedly, my results with this technique are pretty mixed so far. Sometimes it helps a lot, but about half of the time it offers little to no real relief. It’s one of those things: you have to sort of search your soul a bit, ask yourself if you just need a few moments to vent. If the answer is yes, the practice could help. It gets everything out there—a brain dump. Then you can pick through the garbage for what you want to keep. The rest goes and doesn’t seem to come back. At least not right away.

Admitting, truly admitting, what I hate—no rose colors involved—is something I’ve deprived myself of in the past. Allowing myself to admit I hate what is, that I don’t effing want to be spiritual right now—it feels like eating ice cream for the first time after years without sugar.

I love that honesty can work for depression, at least sometimes. I don’t want to have to be positive all the time. What a drag.

Law of Attraction Success Story: "I Met Tony Robbins"

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.

And that is a beautiful feeling.

Jennifer

Subliminal Vision Boards features include:

  • Advanced Subliminal technology 
  • Unlimited Subliminal Vision Boards 
  • Healing Sound Feature
  • Brainstorming Goal Action Planner 

Get the app here.

Best Reincarnation Books

Ah, reincarnation. It’s the concept most associated with New Age spirituality, and one that when I was religious, I most loved to hate.

Now, I just love to love it.

This affection doesn’t make me an expert on the subject, of course; I’m a cafeteria-style, spiritual-but-not-religious type, not a Buddhist. I just know that reincarnation means I have other chances at this Earthly life thing. That’s enough information for now.

Sign me up. Details can wait.

The books on this list are those I’ve personally come across on this subject. I look forward to learning and reading more.

My favorites so far: Many Lives, Many Masters: The True Story of a Prominent Psychiatrist, His Young Patient, and the Past-Life Therapy That Changed Both Their Lives by Brian Weiss and The Search For Grace: A Documented Case of Murder and Reincarnation by Bruce Goldberg.

Best Reincarnation 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.

P.S. Here are a few related links for you, too:

Best Reincarnation Books:

Many Lives, Many Masters: The True Story of a Prominent Psychiatrist, His Young Patient, and the Past-Life Therapy That Changed Both Their Lives, Brian Weiss
Spiritual Progress Through Regression, Brian Weiss
Regression to Times and Places, Brian Weiss
The Search For Grace: A Documented Case of Murder and Reincarnation, Bruce Goldberg

Other Recommended Reincarnation Books:

Messages from the Masters: Tapping into the Power of Love, Brian Weiss
Through Time into Healing: Discovering the Power of Regression Therapy to Erase Trauma and Transform Mind, Body and Relationships, Brian Weiss
Only Love Is Real: A Story of Soulmates Reunited, Brian Weiss
Messages From the Masters: Tapping into the Power of Love, Brian Weiss
Mirrors of Time: Using Regression for Physical, Emotional, and Spiritual Healing, Brian Weiss
Same Soul, Many Bodies: Discover the Healing Power of Future Lives through Progression Therapy, Brian Weiss
Miracles Happen: The Transformational Healing Power of Past Life Memories, Brian Weiss
Only Love is Real: A Story of Soul Mates Reunited, Brian Weiss
Love Never Dies: How to Reconnect and Make Peace with the Deceased, Jamie Turndorf
Your Life After Their Death: A Medium’s Guide to Healing After a Loss, Karen Noé
The Indigo Children: The New Kids Have Arrived, Lee Carroll
Indigo Adults: Understanding Who You Are and What You Can Become, Kabir Jaffe and Ritama Davidson
The Disappearance of the Universe: Straight Talk about Illusions, Past Lives, Religion, Sex, Politics, and the Miracles of Forgiveness, Gary R. Renard

Get the entire recommended reading list at Books I Want My Kids to Read Someday.

Alternative Spirituality Interview: "Desire Is Missing"

Contributor: Author Leta Hamilton, whose books include The Way of the Toddler and a four-book series called 100 Daily Messages

Mollie: When you meditate, do you have thoughts?

Leta: When I am in a meditative state, which is to say, breathing with depth instead of shallow breaths, feeling connected to All That Is, feeling in a state of bliss, feeling “in the flow” and all the other ways we express the experience of being ease-filled … I discover that my thoughts and myself are two distinct things. I can be meditating and suddenly realize that I’ve been thinking thoughts the whole time, but that they feel as if they have arrived from an infinite field and are not a part of me (the essence of me) at all. It feels as if the “me” is infinite space and the thoughts are energy signatures that come from the outside in, but are not mine. They may, of course, have everything to do with this lifetime as I am experiencing it, yet there is a depersonalization to it. They are not the essence of me.

Therefore, the relationship I have with thoughts is that I have them, but they are not from me. They just are. They bounce in from the infinite field of consciousness and become personal to my life experience, but are not personal, nor are they “me,” nor are they “mine.” They just are. I have a distance from them. They occur, but they are not personal. They come and go, but it is like the bouncing ball, not an internal foundation of my being. I am the observer behind the thoughts rather than the thoughts themselves. I am distinct from the thoughts. No matter how personalized they feel (and of course they are very personal to what is going on in my life experience), they are profoundly not personal, not me at all. They have no relation to who I AM. They are. That is the best way I can describe it.

Mollie: In other words, while meditating, you are almost entirely separate from your ego? Can you describe that feeling a little more?

Leta: It is a very strange phenomenon. When I am feeling vast, I fall into that vastness and lose all dreams, ideas or hopes of being anything other than completely anonymous as a human. I go into this vast space inside myself and everything I need is there. I have everything. I have the impulse to disappear completely.

How this plays out in my life is that I have no desire to be present on social media. I cannot nor do I want to explain myself to anyone. There is no desire to even talk to anyone. I am here for those who want to talk to me, but I am not in defense mode. I only care to listen and speaking feels like a kindness I do for the benefit of all humankind as we do this thing together–as a species–of evolving. The thing that is missing from my life is the desire to be anything other than what I am right now or anywhere other than where I am right now. That is not to say I don’t have stress or feelings of overwhelm. However, I am grateful for them as I am experiencing them.

I don’t know how else to describe it. No explanation is ever going to be enough. It is felt, not explained. I cannot talk about it. I can only feel it. When I try to talk about it, like right now, it feels so inadequate and off-base. It is only an approximation of an approximation.

Mollie: I don’t think I’ve ever lived a single moment without desire. That must be amazing.

What is your greatest, most helpful spiritual practice in life?

Leta: NOTHING is what I insist is my greatest experience! Nothing is NO-THING. It is surrender and surrender and surrender until your heart is so full you encompass everything. You become no-thing and have room for everything. It is the galaxy I am talking about, the vastness, the opening up to galaxies and the whole universe. It is everything because it is nothing.

This admission feels vulnerable because I don’t want anyone to be denied the experience they are having right now, to ever think they are experiencing anything other than perfection every moment, no matter how unpleasant.

I want everyone to have their own experience, because it is theirs to have and it is perfect just as it is.

Love.

Leta

Self-Help Success Story: “I Tried Matt Kahn’s ‘Loving What Arises’ Technique for Depression”

Last fall, I was going through a rough time. Like, really rough. I wasn’t taking walks. I wasn’t eating healthy. I wasn’t hanging out with friends–even writing. The problem? I was pregnant.

And every day, all day long, I was nauseated.

It’s the worst thing, that nausea. I’ve had it four times for over three months straight, and it never gets any more enjoyable. It’s unfortunate, too, for my kids and husband, who want another little one someday. (I think they forgot how bad the bathroom smelled, and how infrequently I cleaned it.)

All right, enough pity. (Thanks, though. It was nice.) The point is, when you’re sick everything sucks. So you can imagine how badly I’d have to want to do something while in this condition in order to actually get dressed, get in the car, go somewhere and do it.

Yeah. Pretty bad indeed.

Well, I did that. I did that for Matt Kahn. And it involved a 40-minute car ride. There was an IV in my arm, and I puked on the street by my friend’s car, and I hated every second, but I went.

To say I’m a fan of Kahn is an understatement. I once offered to ghost write a book of his. (His office person rejected the idea. No hard feelings! Emoticons!) He’s a Seattle local, which gets him a few points, but mostly he just has a great take on spirituality. It’s jovial. It’s fun. It’s super insightful. And it’s just non-friggin-uptight. He’s not a comedy genius or anything–he’s just relatable. Honestly, a pretty normal dude–yet awesome.

And then there’s his message. His message is the thing. It’s unique. It’s a blend. There’s nothing copycat about it. He talks about karma, about the law of attraction, but in a totally different way. A real treatment of his message is far beyond the scope of this piece, but do check out at least one of his super popular YouTube videos. It’s required.

With that, we come to Kahn’s spiritual practice, and my assessment of how well it works for depression–and for just getting more inner peace and stuff in general.

So let’s get to it.

Matt Kahn is a spiritual teacher with second-sight abilities. In his book, Whatever Arises, Love That, which he seems to claim was channeled (though possibly not word-for-word?), he shares how one day a spirit entity or entities revealed to him his greatest teaching (so far) in the form of the four words that are the title of his book:

“Whatever arises, love that.”

Taking the directive literally, he began repeating, “I love you” to whatever got his attention—a flock of birds, a construction worker using a jackhammer. What followed was an awakening, as he calls it, that caused sounds of gunshots in his head and a sense of his Self “oozing out of my ears like warm liquid light.” Sounds like something I want to experience. Maybe.

And that’s it. That’s the practice. So simple. So of course, I had to try it. Here’s what I found.

Does this spiritual practice work against depression?

Yes, but only to a point unless used with great commitment. Just saying a few “I love yous” every day won’t get you out of a bad slump. Though it wouldn’t hurt, either.

Have you tried it? For how long?

I tried the technique for about one month during that pregnancy I was describing. Not the first trimester, of course–spiritual practice? what’s that?–but later when things weren’t so … entirely crappy. I was convinced I’d stick with it for at least a year straight as one of my main practices. However, it was not to be. Soon afterwards, I discovered Byron Katie’s The Work, and loving what arises has been relegated to the Definitely Will Do That Again, Hopefully Soon list in my OneNotes.

What were your results?

My results were great. Thing is, as hirpy-chirpy ridiculous as the technique sounds, in practice it’s very profound. When things are swimming along, feeling good to you, it’s just an extra “thank you” to the Universe, but when things get un-fun, the technique really gets interesting. It’s not about pretending to have feelings of appreciation and love for what you actually hate. For me, anyway, it’s about reminding myself that this–even this–is fine. Not great. Not cool. Not awesome. Not de-lish.

But fine. Really, really fine.

My kids both pooped on the floor? On the same day? It’s fine. It’s really fine. I love you.

I’m feeling depressed but too lazy to go take a walk? It’s fine. It’s really fine. I love you.

My body is forty pounds heavier, and my ears hurt from the sound of whining? It’s fine. It’s really fine. I love you.

Because, here’s the deal, you: You’re what I get when I ask to become a better person. You, Poop. You, Depression. You, Fat. You’re my gifts, my teachers, my best friends.

Even you, Whining. All of you.

So, I love you. For teaching me how to train my kids to clean up after themselves. For bringing me back to spiritual practice after a few days’ absence. For reminding me how lucky I am to have a healthy body. For teaching me patience. For making me stronger.

I love you.

Here are a couple of amazing quotes from the book.

Note that it was really, really hard to choose; there were tons of great ones.

  • “No matter what seems to trigger you, each reaction represents the releasing of cellular debris collected from lifetimes of experiences.”
  • “Throughout this process, it is important to remember that a sensation only feels like a barrier for as long as you refuse to feel it. As it is invited to be felt, a willingness to experience each moment as an opportunity to heal clears out layers of cellular memory to make room for the emergence of heart-centered consciousness.”
  • “Instead of using this practice as a cosmic fire extinguisher to merely resolve the flames of personal despair, I invite you to treasure your heart on a regular basis, until the world you are viewing reflects back the light that your love reveals.”
  • “While moments of transcendence are incredible to behold, the true benchmark of spiritual maturity is how often your words and actions are aligned with love.”

Self-Help Success Story: "After Doing the Byron Katie Method, My Boss Started Listening to Me"

Contributor: Travis Thomas. Travis is a corporate trainer and performance specialist who created Live Yes, And. In 1999, he found improvisational comedy and it changed his life. Since then he has used the principles of improvisation as a tool to help individuals, companies and teams with personal development, culture, mindset and collaboration. He is the author of the book, Three Words for Getting Unstuck: Live Yes, And!

I learned about Byron Katie for the first time from a friend. I tried reading a book of hers but the concepts didn’t click until I listened to an audiobook and could really hear the coaching. I have been doing her method, The Work, on and off for about eight years. My other spiritual practices include meditation, prayer, and listening.

I wanted to share an example of how The Work helped me in an important way about seven years ago.

I just finished the first year in a new job and I spent most of the year feeling under-appreciated and under-valued. I saw my immediate boss as inflexible, obnoxious, and wrong most of the time. I disagreed with how he went about things and it seemed he never really cared about my opinion.

As the year came to a close and we were preparing for summer break, I realized that if I wanted to last another year at the job I needed to do The Work. I filled out a “Judge Your Neighbor” worksheet (I know, it sounds strange; see TheWork.com for more information) and landed on the statement “My boss (I’ll call him Carl) should listen to me more.” It was clear to me that this was true because I knew I had a lot to offer and a lot of expertise, but it was also clear to me that Carl didn’t really want to listen to me.

I took the statement to the Byron Katie questions. I answered Question One pretty quickly. “Is it true?” Yes. Moving on to Question Two: “Can I absolutely know that it’s true?” Well, I thought I could, but for the sake of this exercise I chose to be open to the possibility that maybe it wasn’t absolutely true. So okay, no, I couldn’t be absolutely sure it was true. Question Three is “How do I react when I think that thought?” That one was interesting: When I thought that Carl should listen to me more, I wouldn’t listen to him, either. I would disagree with everything he said and did, never giving him the benefit of the doubt or credit for the three decades of work he had done in this field.

I wanted him to value me more, but I didn’t value him. I wanted him to respect me more, but I didn’t respect him.

Ouch.

This was a huge eye opener for me. It was so clear that I had shut off my willingness to see any value in him, so of course I wasn’t going to feel any in return.

Then I came to Question Four, “Who would I be without that thought?” I knew the answer: I’d be an awesome team player. In fact, I would be his biggest cheerleader. I would be patient, enthusiastic, positive, selfless, and compassionate–the person I really wanted to be.

The turnarounds were also interesting: “I should listen to Carl more.” Yes, I clearly wasn’t doing that; what would it look like if I really listened to his ideas? The next one was a biggie, too: “I should listen to myself more.” That is the one that stung most. What all of this angst really boiled down to, I realized, was me not valuing my own ideas and having enough confidence in myself to present them without fear, oversensitivity and intimidation.

But it was easier to blame Carl instead.

The following year, I decided to change my attitude towards Carl, to be his biggest cheerleader and genuinely love him for all of the love he brought to the job, even if I disagreed with some of his choices. I worked on being open-minded and patient, as well as just liking him as a person. It should come as no big shock that our relationship changed quickly. Almost overnight, Carl started asking for my ideas all of the time. Soon I became his go-to guy, and we developed a wonderful friendship.

I ended up staying at that job for two more years, and enjoyed a wonderful and harmonious experience there. I remain friends with Carl to this day.

Travis

Self-Help Success Story: "Forgiveness First. Then Positivity"

Contributor: Katie Harp of the blog Resilient. At Resilient, Katie writes excellent articles about depression, including this one, in which she shares the full story of how she overcame her depression

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?

Katie: Forgiveness work was very helpful for me. I have a post about that here.

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.

Self-Help Success Story: "Ten Seconds? I Can Do That"

Recently I read Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda. In it he talked about one of his early memories of another yogi who couldn’t stand working anymore, so he quit and just meditated all day long from then on.

Damn, I thought when I read that. I still love working.

I have a long way to go.

Turns out I’m not a yogi yet. And let’s face it: I probably never will be. In spite of many past efforts–most of them enjoyable, even–sitting meditation just isn’t my thing. Working is. Doing is. Moving my body, getting stuff done. I know it’s not what spiritual people are supposed to say, but … I think I was meant to be a doer.

I think it’s my calling to be non-Zen.

And when I look hard enough, I find a little bit of encouragement for this seeming flaw. In Anita Moorjani’s Dying To Be Me, she makes an impassioned plea for people to find God in doing things they love–mundane things, sensual things, unusual things. Whatever makes you happy. And in several of Eckhart Tolle’s audio recordings he discusses this idea, too, saying that it’s actually better to live life and bring stillness to the living of it rather than becoming a monk somewhere. Life gives us plenty of opportunities to grow, he says. No need to seek a special kind of pain by sitting uncomfortably on an ashram floor. Unless you really want to, that is.

Finally, in In The Presence of A Great Mystery, another audio recording of Tolle’s, he makes another interesting statement. During the question and answer session a man asked him how to not fall asleep during meditation. First, Tolle answered that this is normal, that he’s seen many a monk sleeping during their 4 a.m. meditation session. But then he adds that what’s important in forming a meditation practice isn’t how long you stay in the state of no-mind, but how often you return. In other words, it’s better to hold short meditation “sessions” all throughout your day. “Even ten seconds is enough,” Tolle says.

Ten seconds, I thought. I can do that.

And so, that is what I am doing these days, and it seems to be working really well. My technique is this: I focus on the “inner energy” of my body, as Eckhart Tolle says to do. Then I repeat a positive mantra that feels good to me. As someone who has struggled with negative thinking patterns for a long time, I believe that this act is rewiring my brain to be more positive. In any case, as I meditate I feel calmer and happier by far, and I truly look forward to doing it whenever possible.

Sitting meditation is awesome, but it’s not for everyone–not for all times and seasons of life, at least. Working meditation, moving meditation–these are what I’m enjoying most these days, and what’s helping me the most, too.

Self-Help Success Story: "I Altered My Subconscious Beliefs Using CBT"

The story of my depression starts way back in time, back to some of my first childhood memories. Since then I’ve made a great deal of progress–more than I once thought possible. But that doesn’t mean I don’t still have it.

Daily, there’s a routine: Get some exercise, some alone time. Take time to read and write and be with friends. Meditate as much as possible all throughout the day, and never, ever forget to be grateful.

Sleep well, and a lot. Eat healthy. Take medication. Stay busy. Get outside if you can. Take vitamin D, a multivitamin, a cold shower. Then get some more exercise, and meditate again.

Most of the time, this works. It’s work, but it works. So I continue on, and make slow progress. But recently I discovered a technique that is speeding up my results: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).

Here’s the Wikipedia definition of CBT:

• “Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a psychosocial intervention that is the most widely used evidence-based practice for treating mental disorders.”

And here are quotes from several articles about CBT:

• Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is an effective treatment for depression … Cognitive restructuring refers to the process in CBT of identifying and changing inaccurate negative thoughts that contribute to the development of depression. This is done collaboratively between the patient and therapist, often in the form of a dialogue. For instance, a college student may have failed a math quiz and responded by saying, “That just proves I’m stupid.” … The “I’m stupid” response is an example of an automatic thought … The idea in CBT is to learn to recognize those negative thoughts and find a healthier way to view the situation. http://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/cognitive-behavioral-therapy-for-depression#1

• Dozens of randomized con­trolled trials (RCT) and other studies support CBT’s efficacy in treating major depressive disorder (MDD). http://www.mdedge.com/currentpsychiatry/article/82695/anxiety-disorders/using-cbt-effectively-treating-depression-and

• A success­ful response to CBT in the acute phase may have a protective effect against depression recurrences. A 2013 meta-analysis that totaled 506 individuals with depressive disorders found a trend toward signifi­cantly lower relapse rates when CBT was discontinued after acute therapy, com­pared with antidepressant therapy that continued beyond the acute phase. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2933381/

• The researchers found that patients with higher levels of connectivity between four brain regions involved in mood regulation were likely to achieve remission with CBT but have a poor response to medication, whereas those with weaker connectivity were more likely to remit using medication and not respond to CBT. http://www.pharmaceutical-journal.com/news-and-analysis/research-briefing/brain-scans-could-match-patients-to-best-depression-treatment/20202624.article

Here a few particularly difficult thoughts CBT has helped me overcome. Keep in mind that these are just some of the beliefs, not all, that have altered over the past few months using these processes.

  1. My kids require too much attention. After doing CBT, this thought became: My kids require just the right amount of attention for them. And I require a lot of attention, too! Also, much of the day I’m doing other things–cooking, cleaning, hanging out with friends–things I’d do whether or not the kid were present.
  2. I am sick of breastfeeding. This changed to: I am not sick of breastfeeding. It’s good for the kids. It’s nice downtime for me–I often get to read at the same time. Plus, it helped me lose my extra baby weight.
  3. I am exhausted. This thought became: I’m not exhausted. I am not depleted of energy. There is a great deal of energy in my body for everything my body needs to do. I am thankful that my body notices when it’s time to sleep, and lets me know.

It’s an interesting process, this thought-altering work. Sometimes I can feel the change in my perspective right away. Other times, though, I only notice the change later, when the situation comes up again.

Every time I do it, part of me doubts it will work. Most of the time I’m surprised.

Self-Help Success Story: "Therapy Helped Me Go Deeper"

Early last year,  I took a break from self-improvement for a while. I stopped trying to meditate. I stopped exercising.

I was just sick of it all.

Wellness practices are wonderful, when they’re wonderful. Other times they just feel like one more obligation. And then I got pregnant, and was sick for three months, and my only unnecessary activity was watching TV reruns. I took care of my family. I ate and slept. But I didn’t do a whole lot else.

Needless to say, this convergence of events brought on a depression relapse. Then November came. My first trimester sickness was over, and I was ready to take up my self-improvement efforts again. So I did something I’d never done before.

I started seeing a therapist.

When I called to make the appointment, the woman asked if I was suicidal. At first I didn’t answer; I just started crying. “No,” I told her. “I don’t want to kill myself. I just don’t really want to live.”

Apparently, that’s what three months without exercise or prayer will do to me.

My first appointment was in December, and I left it feeling quite hopeful. Julie told me that depression may be a temperament, a chemical imbalance, something that’s considered permanent. But many therapists believe that it’s not that simple, that there are other factors, too.

“So long-term relief is possible?” I asked. “Is that what you’re telling me?”

“It is possible,” she said. “A better question, though, is: Is it possible for you?”

She couldn’t tell me for sure if she’d be able to help me feel significantly better for a significant amount of time. “What I can say is that the things we’ll talk about have helped a huge number of other people in your place.”

“So what’s the plan?” I asked. “In a nutshell, what’s the strategy? Do you have some techniques in mind?” Partly, I was curious. Partly, I needed hope. And partly, I was doing a mental calculation, a cost-benefit analysis. With two kids at home, even insurance-covered therapy is a luxury.

Julie laid it out: We’d delve deep into my emotions. We’d analyze incidents that brought up feelings I’d rather not have. In doing so, I’d learn how to face them rather than stuffing them down. I’d also learn to be vulnerable.

“Studies consistently show that the happiest people are those that don’t push down their emotions,” she told me. “Letting yourself feel is the first step.”

And immediately upon hearing this, I knew she was right.

Here’s the thing: Her plan wasn’t anything I hadn’t heard before. Nothing new or revolutionary. But for some reason, until that day, I’d never followed the advice. It wasn’t so much that I was afraid to feel bad. I just didn’t think it’d work. In the past, every time I’d decided to look at my pain, it just seemed to grow bigger.

So, I ignored them—at least as much as I possibly could. And then I tried to fix them, find a solution. But feelings, said Julie, don’t need to be fixed. They just needed to be felt.

A bell rang. A Buddhist bell. An Eckhart Tolle/New Age spirituality bell. All that “just notice the thoughts–don’t judge them” stuff kicked in, and I thought, Maybe the Universe is telling me something. So, soon after reading the books by Brene Brown that Julie recommended, I decided to delve into spiritual books again. I bought Matt Kahn’s Whatever Arises, Love That. And I read Pema Chodron for the first time. These books were all about accepting where you’re at–even when you’re in a bad-feeling place.

I was ready to be well again.

Over the next few months, I resumed my meditation practice, along with my exercise routine. I went to therapy a few more times, too, and that helped more than I thought it would. I can’t say for sure which of these activities was the most significant part of my recovery, though I suspect it was the walking. But the spiritual practice I started with during that sensitive time helped a lot, too, and I still do it now sometimes.

I called it my “I hate this” meditation, and I came up with it one day at the gym.

I’d come there to exercise, of course, as well as do some writing, but I was feeling exhausted and just … bad. So instead of doing either, I sat on a comfortable chair and decided to rest for a moment.

I know what I’ll do, I thought after criss-crossing my legs and taking a few deep breaths. I’ll practice this vulnerability thing. I will think about my emotions. Feel them fully. Stop fighting my negative inner dialogue, and judging it.

I will let my bad feelings run free.

And so, that’s what I did. And not half-heartedly. If I was gonna do this, I was gonna do it right. I started a mental checklist of everything—every little thing—that I was hating in that moment. Anything that came up, I put it on the list.

The list got very long, very quickly.

I hated the gym. I hated cleaning the bathroom. I hated getting my kids ready in the morning. I hated the weather, and the way my pregnant belly felt.

I even hated my own pants.

Then something happened. Something I didn’t expect. The depression began to lift. The thoughts lost a bit of their power, their ability to produce fear. You might even say that by letting them run free, they ran away.

After all, I was facing them, and they weren’t that bad. They were just thoughts, you know? Most of them were unreasonable, many untrue. Some of them were even sort of silly. Suddenly I understood what some people call “the space between”–there was space between myself and my thoughts, like a cushion.

Half an hour into this negativity meditation, I moved past the initial lift and into an actual high. Or, not a high exactly—the depression was still there. But alongside it, coexisting with it, was some peace.

Breakthrough.

For the next two months, I continued my “I hate this” meditation until I didn’t seem to need it anymore. Soon after that, I discovered Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and that took me another step forward–but that’s another story.

Alternative Spirituality Spirituality Success Story: "I Can Be Happy About My Sadness"

Contributor: Anonymous

“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:

  1. How not to try to fix things all the time.
  2. How to achieve inner peace in spite of turmoil and stress, and in the midst of it.
  3. How not to try to fix things as my first impulse, but to first sit with the feeling, then fix it.
  4. 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

Best Alternative Spirituality Books

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.

Best Alternative Spirituality Books:

Best Meditation Books

Best Spiritual Memoirs

Best Law of Attraction Books

Best Channeled Books

Best Scientific Spiritual Books

Best Near Death Experience Books

Best Reincarnation Books

Other Best Alternative Spirituality Books

Best Free Alternative Spiritual Ebooks

Best of the Best: My Favorite Alternative Spirituality Books

More Words I Love:

Best Alternative Spirituality Children’s Books

Best Alternative Spirituality Blogs

100 Websites for Free Alternative Spirituality Ebooks

And a few more related links for you:

78 Alternative Spirituality Life Hacks

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:

  • Meditate
  • 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
  • Pray
  • Believe that you can
  • Read spiritual books

The Shallow Stuff:

  • Smile
  • Go outside
  • Have nice friends
  • Buy new clothes
  • Get a (healthy) addiction
  • Play video games
  • Drink caffeine
  • Cut Your hair
  • Sing
  • Figure out what you want
  • Get what you want
  • Get a job
  • Get educated
  • Smell good
  • 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
  • Strategize
  • Be relentless
  • 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
  • Take medication
  • 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

The Love Stuff:

  • Learn to love being alone
  • Whenever possible, don’t fight; just talk instead
  • Don’t make babies until you just have to
  • Don’t lie, even about the bad things
  • Learn how to break the truth gently
  • Search for love without shame
  • Learn how to listen

Self-Help Success Story: "Art Heals the Mind, Body and Soul"

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
my life.

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

Guy

Self-Help Success Story: "Joe Vitale’s ‘Zero Limits’ Method Is Great. But There Are, In Fact, Limits"

There’s a fun spirituality book called Zero Limits by one of the speakers featured in the movie The Secret. It’s by law of attraction writer (and super nice guy–he once called my friend to tell her he liked her book) Joe Vitale. Maybe you’ve heard of it.

The book is autobiographical–more a memoir than a traditional self-help. I love a good memoir, and it’s an entertaining read. But even better, it’s practical; it gives an in-depth explanation of a New Age/New Thought-type process for altering your state of mind and your beliefs (and maybe your reality, too). I’ll get into that in a second, but first, a brief assessment for those of you who already know the book.

Does this spiritual practice work against depression?

Yes. As a technique to deal with depression, Zero Limits can be awesome. I’ve tried it with some decent results. But be warned: the process is very similar to just saying mantras, and personally I’m not convinced these mantras are particularly special.

Have you tried it? For how long?

Yes. Not for long, though. Just a few days.

What were your results?

The first time I read Zero Limits, I was super excited. I wrote about this already, in You’re Getting Closer. That first night, I said the phrase over and over, and as I did so, my mood lifted and my head cleared. I entered into the state of meditation and stayed there.

The next day, however, the effect lessened considerably, even though I continued the practice. I decided that my belief in the technique, rather than the technique itself, had been responsible for my results. Since then, I’ve used the method just a few times, and never with the same commitment.

Personally–and this is just my opinion–I’d be more inclined to use the Zero Limits method on a specific situation or physical need, rather than as a way to heal depression. When I repeat a mantra in order to break out of a bad mood, I often end up more frustrated than when I started.

Is this spiritual practice enjoyable, though? Is it easy?

Yes and yes.

How does it work? What do you do, exactly?

Though there are other aspects to the technique, the main activity is repeating four lovely statements as often as possible–continuously?–throughout the day. They are:

  1. I’m sorry.
  2. Please forgive me.
  3. Thank you.
  4. I love you.

I won’t go into the philosophy behind the choice of statements here; for that, you can read the book. (And I recommend that you do.) The basic idea is that the statements have a cleansing power and can help you resolve any undesirable situation–like depression. By using them and visualizing a cleansing action (such as an eraser erasing a chalkboard), you rid the program from your mind that created it or brought it into your experience.

What’s the up-side?

Like I said, it is enjoyable. And it’s easy. And if you stick with it, you’ll likely see results. I happen to prefer other practices, that’s all.

What’s the down-side?

The book claims that the method is a version of an old Hawaiian healing tradition called Ho’pononpono. However, it’s significantly different from that tradition–a spinoff created by a kahuna named Morna. I’m sure Morna is or was inspired and wonderful. But I would’ve preferred she give her method a different name from the original.

The legend of the book and part of what makes it so popular is that Hew Len, the co-author of the book and of the method, emptied a mental ward of patients by using this method–nothing else.

What’s the bottom line here?

My super scientific, soon-to-be-patented depression effectiveness rating for the Zero Limits method: 5 on a scale of 1-10.

Where can I find out more?

You can read my book summaries and takeaways here:

Best Spirituality Book for Depression: Zero Limits: The Secret Hawaiian System for Wealth, Health, Peace, and More by Joe Vitale and Hew Len

Best Spirituality Book for Depression: At Zero by Joe Vitale

Or you can find the book and info about Joe Vitale and co-author Hew Len here:

Zero Limits on Amazon

Joe Vitale’s Official Website

Hoʻoponopono and Hew Len on Wikipedia

Hew Len’s Official Website

Joe Vitale’s law of attraction success story: “I am rich

Self-Help Success Story: “I Tried Mindfulness for Depression”

So, I have a confession to make: I’ve always hated the idea of mindfulness. Here I am, all spiritual and New Agey and stuff, and I’ve never even initiated a conversation about it. Ridiculous, right? Here’s my excuse.

Until very recently, I knew nothing about this spiritual practice. It was just a vague term, and not an especially pleasing one at that. Whereas for some, the idea of mindfulness inspires a sort of beatific glow, for me, it was just another entry on the never-ending to do list of life. Just learning more about it seemed exhausting. Then I actually did learn more–and abruptly changed my perspective.

Right now, as research for this site, I’m reading Full Catastrophe Living by Jon Kabat-Zin for the first time. Now a modern classic, this gives one of the more detailed, systematic (even medical) approaches to mindfulness meditation. It’s based on the successful hospital classes led by Kabat-Zin many years ago, with more recent additions in the revised version I’m reading. I’m also reading several books by Thich Nhat Hanh right now, and listening to an Eckhart Tolle audiobook. I didn’t think of Tolle as a mindfulness meditation teacher, but I’m seeing now that he is (though he might not appreciate the label).

Previously, I viewed mindfulness as a sort of bland, unoriginal approach to spirituality. I mean, it’s just so popular, right? Even non-spiritual people are doing it. After doing the above reading, though, I changed my mind.

Mindfulness, it turns out, isn’t what I thought it was.

I thought mindfulness was: Enjoying life.

Mindfulness is: Being aware of and accepting whatever thoughts come, whether or not they’re thoughts of enjoyment and appreciation.

I thought mindfulness was: Thinking pleasant thoughts about the ordinary things you see around you as you go throughout your day.

Mindfulness is: Feeling your “inner body,” as Tolle calls it–bringing your attention to the energy within you throughout the day.

I thought mindfulness was: Eating more slowly. Listening more carefully.

Mindfulness is: Being who you are. Doing what comes naturally to you when you’re acting from your highest self.

I thought mindfulness was: Not future-thinking. Not past-thinking.

Mindfulness is: Using your mind in the ways that it serves you. That includes some future- and past-thinking.

I thought mindfulness was: Being in a state of deep acceptance of what is.

Mindfulness is: Being in the state of meditation. Even when you’re not totally able to accept what is.

I thought mindfulness was: A politically correct alternative to more advanced ways of meditating.

Mindfulness is: As advanced as I ever need to be.

In other words: Before, mindfulness seemed to me both overly simplistic as well as impossible to achieve. Now, it seems to be exactly what I already do every day: meditating, appreciating, loving. Rinse, repeat.

I still don’t love the word mindfulness for some reason. At this point, the
guilt-producing mental associations still sully it. But I do like mindfulness itself.

Here, a self-interview about using this practice for depression.

Does this spiritual practice work against depression?

Yes. For sure. Probably for everyone.

Have you tried it? For how long?

Possibly the main takeaway I got from my recent reading is that I’ve actually been practicing mindfulness meditation for at least four years now. I don’t do many long sitting meditations these days, but my main spiritual practice is to enter into a state of meditation–just a behind-the-scenes sort of sensing of the Divine–in the morning and to hold that place throughout the day. I certainly don’t always succeed in this (read You’re Getting Closer to see what I mean). But when I fail, I return. It’s my most consistent spiritual habit, and as it turns out, it’s nothing special–just what everyone is talking about: mindfulness.

What were your results when using mindfulness for depression?

At times, total transformation of my mood, immediately. Other times, frustration due to just not feeling it.

Is it easy?

For me, yes and no. It does take work, especially for the first several years of practice. It’s a tough habit to create and keep.

How long does the effect last? Does it keep working or does the effect taper off after a few weeks or months?

The mood effect does not taper off at all for me if I practice consistently throughout the day, week or month. And after a break–even a long one–I can pick up right where I left off.

How does it work? What do you do, exactly?

The answer to this question is different for everyone; there are so very many ways to be mindful.

For some, mindfulness is simply noticing what is and thinking thoughts of appreciation. For others, it is noticing unhelpful thoughts and letting them pass, turning their attention to their present surroundings instead. Right now, for me, my main mindfulness practice is to say a mantra many times throughout the day, as follows: I am sensing my inner body. I’m doing what feels deeply right. This reminds me to come back to myself, then check in with my intuition when making any kind of decision. It works wonderfully for me.

I also say, Thank you, God, and There is time for that, too. (This last because of my Type A accomplishment obsession.) And since I’m not so great at just thinking about trees or children’s smiles or whatever, I think thoughts of appreciation about these things. In other words, instead of saying to myself, Here are the trees. They are green and beautiful, I might say something like, I so appreciate these trees. I am so lucky to live here.

Does that make sense? For me, this subtle difference is huge.

Is this practice scientifically backed?

Yes. There are many books on the benefits of meditation in general, but mindfulness meditation is particularly well-researched. It is used outside spiritual circles–in hospitals, therapy practices and much more.

What’s the downside?

None that I can think of, except that it may take years and years of practice for it to feel natural and easy. At least, it did for me. And I definitely still struggle.

Self-Help Success Story: "Healing Begins With Therapy"

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 byingridvasquez@gmail.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.

Ingrid

100 Websites for Free Alternative Spirituality Ebooks

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:

Top 100 Free Amazon Best Sellers: New Age Religion & Spirituality

Free Nook Books: Alternative Spirituality

New Thought Library: Archives

Free Ebooks from Project Gutenberg: Spirituality

Smashwords: New Free Ebooks

Kobo: Religion and Spirituality

NewAgeBook.com: Free Ebooks

New-Age-Spirituality.com: Free Ebooks

Metafiz Books: Metaphysical and Spiritual Library

Author Marketing Club: Free Kindle Books

FreeSpiritualEbooks.com

Endless Satsang: Free Spiritual Books

Obooko.com: Free Mind, Body and Spirit Ebooks

SpiritualBee.com: Free Spiritual Books

GetFreeBooks.com: Free Spiritual Books

GetFreeBooks.com: Free Spiritual and Inspirational Ebooks

TechSupportAlert.com: Free Books on Religion

FreeBooksForAll.com: Spiritual Books

HolyBooks.com

WebSpirit.com: Free Ebooks

FreeEbooks.net: Religion and Spirituality

Trans4Mind.com: Spiritual Books

PublicBookshelf.com: Spirituality Books

2020k: Religion and Spirituality

A Buddhist Library

Al-Islam

Arthur’s Bookshelf

Author Stand

BiblioFaction

Bibliotastic

BookRix 

Booksie

BookYards: Religion and Spirituality

Bored.com: Religion

Bring The Books

BuddhistELibrary

Centsless Books

ChestofBooks: Religion

Curriki 

Daily Free Books (UK)

Daily Free Books (USA)

DigiLibraries

DivineLifeSociety

Ebook.com.au: Sacred Texts and Religion

Ebook Junkie

Ebooks@Adelaide

EbooksDirectory

Ebooks Free Free Free

EbooksFreeNet

EbooksForAll

Ebooks Library

EbookTakeaway

eReader IQ

eReader Love

eReader Perks

EWTN Libraries

Foboko

Free Audio Books.WS

Free Books.com

Free Books Hub UK

Freebook Sifter: Religion and Spirituality

Free Ebooks Blog

Free Ebooks Daily

Free Ebooks.net: Religious

Free-Ed Net

Free eTextbooks Online

Free Read Feed (UK)

Georgia Download Destination

GoogleBookSearch: Religion

Hundred Zeros CA

Hundred Zeros UK 

Hundred Zeros USA: Religion and Spirituality

iLove Ebooks: : Religion

Internet Sacred Text Archive

Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive

ManyBooks: Religion

MemoWare: Religion

Merlot: Religious Studies

MetaReligion

Modern Buddihsm

Munsey’sMobile

New World Order Library

Nobooko: Religion and Spirituality

One Hundred Free Books

OnlineBooks4Free: Religion

OnlineBooksPage: Religion

Online Library of Liberty: Religion

Overdrive: Religion and Spirituality

PDF Titles

Religion-Online

Snick’s List

The Book Depository

The Divine Life Society

VirtualReligionIndex

Walking By The Way

WikiSource

Wikiversity: Theology

Alternative Spirituality Interview with Mary Lou Stevens: "I’ve Stopped Fighting. It Was Useless, Anyway"

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?

Mary-Lou:

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.

To learn more about Stephens and her work, see:

Read the rest of this series at Spiritual Practice Success Stories.

Alternative Spirituality Interview: "Don’t Blame Yourself. Don’t Blame Your Karma. Things Just Happen"

Contributor: Mary-Lou Stephens, author of Sex, Drugs and Meditation.

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.

Mary Lou

To learn more about Stephens and her work, see: