In her twenties, Gabrielle Bernstein found herself in a situation familiar to many young women. Her job left her feeling exhausted, she had unhealthy eating habits, she craved relationships in order to feel worthy, and she partied and indulged in alcohol and drugs to avoid the anxiety and pain associated with the previously mentioned issues.
But things changed suddenly for Bernstein after she heard clearly an inner voice encouraging her to get clean. Instead of listening to the thoughts that told her she didn’t deserve to be happy, or even conversely that she was special and it was other people that had the problem, Bernstein decided to follow that inner guidance.
After studying the spiritual text, A Course in Miracles, and joining support groups, Bernstein embarked on a spiritual and personal journey so that in just a few years her unhealthy habits around food, relationships, addictions, and work had disappeared, and she began to feel peace, joy, and in tune with love at all times.
I had the pleasure of listening to Bernstein talk several years ago at a church on the Lower East Side in New York where she humbly answered questions from the hundreds of women who, like me, came wanting to know how they too could stop the cycle of fixating on their image, of dating inappropriate partners, of craving success at the cost of their relationships and health, and of feeling lost. What I appreciated about Bernstein was the simplicity of her message–get deeply familiar with your inner guidance and let that be your pilot.
In her book, Spirit Junkie, Bernstein re-iterates this simple practice for a life of “self-love and miracles,” and it doesn’t “require anything more than willingness.” Here are a few examples:
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Sitting in silence
Bernstein suggests just sitting in stillness and setting your intention to listening for guidance. It’s as easy as that–offering ourselves five minutes in the morning and five minutes at night to sit in complete stillness. “Listen to what comes through and listen without judgment,” she says.
When we start to get quiet, we see the false beliefs that we have adopted, such as “you don’t deserve a great job” or “this person is the cause of my unhappiness.” Once witnessed from a distance, then we can recognize that these debilitating thoughts just aren’t true.
Turn the thoughts over to your inner guide
The next step is to choose to let those thoughts go–forgiving ourselves and others. Bernstein says her practice is to hand those thoughts over to her inner guidance or Spirit, that she refers to as her –ing. “When you turn your thoughts over to your -ing you don’t have to figure anything out. The simplicity lies in the fact that our –ing is always right because spirit thoughts are based on love,” she says. At first, we may feel somewhat resistant to doing this, as if we may be abandoning our issues if we aren’t figuring them out mentally. But after a few weeks of seeing how life moves more smoothly when we get out of the picture, the benefits of such a practice become clear. Bernstein says for her it became obvious that her inner guidance system was “like a GPS for life.”
Ask your inner guidance for … well, guidance
“Once you’re willing to hear the guidance, the next step is to ask for it,” says Bernstein. That can be through prayer, journaling, or an internal dialogue, and then we simply wait for a response. That response can be a gut feeling, an inner voice, or an external message, so be on the alert and keep your heart open, and above all, follow the wisdom that’s shared with you.
“The universe wants us to be happy,” says Bernstein, whereas the thoughts that our egos produce–well, not so much! So follow the “voice” of inner guidance, and watch in awe as the miracles start showing up in your life.
Illustration: Marie Guillard