by April Thompson
Motivational speaker and bestselling author Gabrielle Bernstein knows the gravitational pull of addiction firsthand. Although introduced to spiritual practices from an early age, she turned away from that upbringing in her 20s, pulled instead into a vortex of drugs, alcohol and unhealthy relationships while running a public relations firm promoting Manhattan nightclubs. After hitting rock bottom at age 25, Bernstein made the unwavering decision to seek spiritual help and change her life.
The entrepreneurial young woman found her groove as a spiritual teacher, introducing millions to new ways of thinking and living through her books, lectures, blogs and videos. Her no-nonsense approach to spirituality and knack for making practices like meditation and prayer accessible to beginners and cynics have attracted a new generation of seekers. Bernstein’s latest book, Miracles Now:108 Life-Changing Tools for Less Stress, More Flow, and Finding Your True Purpose, offers simple, yet powerful tips to short-circuit unhealthy thought patterns and take a shortcut to transformational change.
Why do you reframe a miracle as simply a shift in perception?
Shifting your perception and choosing again is a core principle from A Course in Miracles, a metaphysical text that I study and teach from. When you choose to reorganize your belief system and align it with a loving, forgiving perspective rather than a fear-based reality, that’s when miracles can happen.
Some people shift away from a harmful relationship with addictive drugs and alcohol like you did, while others take such unhealthy behaviors to the grave; what makes the difference?
Often when we get caught in unhealthy behavior, we aren’t willing to ask for help. I think the reason I was able to leave those behaviors behind and create a new path was my willingness to live a different way. I was able to witness my life and see that it wasn’t working. It’s an ongoing process; I’ve been on my current path of turning to spiritual principles for many years, but I’m still constantly working to apply them throughout my moment-to-moment experiences.
How does meditation help create radical change?
I think meditation is a key tool for health, happiness and well-being. It can help reorganize the nervous system, lower stress levels, calm the mind and recalibrate energy. It can help us experience more synchronicity in our lives and a greater sense of interconnectedness, as well.
What do you struggle with the most and what personal miracle are you still trying to realize?
I’m in constant conversation with myself over my thoughts and beliefs about judgment and separation. People are programmed by society to believe we are separate and to judge ourselves and others. My practice suggests a reinterpretation of that general belief system in order to perceive things differently. I also try to choose to forgive limiting thoughts I was holding onto; for example, judging myself for not performing well at a lecture.
Talking too much in conversations is a big challenge for me. A practice in my Miracles Now book called WAIT, for “Why am I talking?” reminds me to notice when I’m over-talking, saying too much, commenting unnecessarily or not supporting the greater good.
How do you think about money and has that proved helpful in broader terms?
I believe that we have the power to attract healthier relationships in our financial circumstances in the same way that we have the power to attract healthier relationships with people in our lives. Some people think that you can’t both be spiritual and secure financial abundance; I think that’s nonsense. When you start to reorganize your beliefs around your self-worth and capacity to earn, and open up to your intuitive voice and the creative possibilities for earning, then your financial situation can change dramatically. I have lived that principle fully. I was brought up in a poverty mindset, but with a shift in perception, I was able to release my fears of financial insecurity.
Do you have a go-to practice that you reach for first when faced with a difficult situation?
When I’m faced with a complicated situation or feeling powerless, I say a prayer in stillness. Such a practice asks through prayer and listens through meditation. It’s in that stillness that I can hear the voice of intuition and the voice of forgiveness, and love can come forward.
Connect with freelance writer April Thompson at AprilWrites.com.