Today on My Overstuffed Bookshelf, author Gabrielle Bernstein is here to talk about her book Spirit Junkie!
Take it away Gabrielle!
For twenty years I kept a journal. I wrote about heartbreak, anxiety, and eating disorders. I wrote about trying to quit drugs while high on drugs. Pages and pages are filled with self-loathing and self-doubt. My journal was my only outlet from the turmoil and deep-rooted pain I felt every day. I’d release my fears onto the page and get honest about my sadness as I scribbled over my tears.
Today my journal entries are much different. They reflect an empowered woman who is happy and bleeds authenticity. The words on the page are tinged with pride and compassion. I’ve overcome my addictions to love, drugs, food, work, and fear. I worked hard, and man, was it worth it. My journal shows a deep desire to continue growing from the inside out.
My primary guide on my journey to self-love has been the metaphysical text A Course in Miracles. The Course is a self-study curriculum emphasizing practical applications for relinquishing fear in all areas of life. The Course’s unique thought system uses forgiveness as the road to inner peace and happiness.
Admittedly, when I first began reading the Course, the language and many of the concepts were extremely foreign to me. But, ultimately, I realized that getting bogged down in semantics was a silly distraction. What really mattered was how relevant the Course’s teachings were to my life, and my absolute willingness to be guided to change.
It was with that burning desire for change that I set out to purchase the Course to begin with. Upon entering the bookstore, I noticed the dark blue hardback with the title A Course in Miracles scrawled in illuminating gold print across the cover. I found the thickness of the volume inviting and reassuring, and as I grabbed the book off the shelf I smiled as if I had received a wink from the Universe. Then the most auspicious thing happened—the book literally dragged me to the counter. It felt strange and yet, oddly comforting. Intuitively, I knew I was in for something good.
Afterward, as I stood on a busy New York City street corner, I flipped the book open to its Introduction and read, “This is a course in miracles. It is a required course. Only the time you take is voluntary. The course does not aim at teaching the meaning of love, for that is beyond what can be taught. It does aim, however, at removing the blocks to the awareness of love’s presence, which is your natural inheritance.” This passage sent chills down my spine. In that moment I made a commitment to myself to become a student and a teacher of the Course—a sacred contract that would change my life.
One year later, I went to a lecture by the renowned spiritual teacher Marianne Williamson, who first introduced me to the Course. Afterward, I asked her advice on how I could spread the Course’s message to my generation. She said, “Read the Text, do the Workbook and study the Manual for Teachers. Then get on your knees and ask God how you should share this work with your generation.” I did just that.
Through reading the Text I was guided to understand the Course’s mission. Simply and succinctly, the Course states that “its goal for you is happiness and peace.” The Text also gave me a deep understanding of the basis for my fear and guilt, and how I could overcome them. Finally, it taught me the meaning of “the miracle,” which is the shift in perception from fear to love.
Then I embarked on the Workbook for Students, which consists of an exercise for each day of the year. The Workbook guided me to know a relationship with what I call my ~ing, an inner guide. This relationship with my ~ing became my primary tool for restoring my mind. When I was ready, I began to practice the Manual for Teachers. This section of the Course prepared me to share its lessons in a way that was authentic to me. My dedication blasted me open to reconnect with my true inner spirit, which is love.
The Course teaches that each time we shift our perception from fear to love we create a miracle. Your internal shifts enhance your external experiences and all your relationships. Serenity kicks in, fear subsides and once and for all you’ll know that all the love you need is inside you.
Sounds like I’ve got the keys to heaven, doesn’t it? That’s right, I do! And I can testify to these tools because I work them like a full-time job. The Course suggests that to teach is to learn, so I’m here to guide and inspire others to turn inward for happiness. If you’re looking for direction and guidance on your own spiritual journey, I’m here to help! I’ve just launched my new book, Spirit Junkie: A Radical Road to Self-Love and Miracles. With this book I can act as a container for you to take right actions to grow a spiritual relationship of your own understanding. Trust, breathe, be willing and show up for the suggestions along the way. Even if fear has you in a headlock, I’m here to remind you that happiness always wins. You too can be a Spirit Junkie!