Busting Through the Blocks with Gabrielle Bernstein
On the 7th December 2013, several hundred women (and even a few brave men) spent a day at the Royal Institute of Great Britain in London’s Mayfair, “busting through the blocks” with the beautimus new spiritual thought leader of the moment, New YorkerGabrielle Bernstein(if you haven’t yet heard of her, then where the bloody HELL have you been?)
Her book (and brand) Spirit Junkie is one that we at Addictive Daughter both very much relate to – indeed, GB and her work came into our path only weeks after we first came up with the concept of AD (oh, the synchronicities…) Like the both of us, Gabby had spent the first half of her twenties addicted to toxic thought patterns, behaviours and relationships in a desperate bid to feel better about her progressive lack of self-worth and love. Also like us, she had trained in acting, before finding herself running her own PR company representing New York’s hottest nightclubs. But, while her life may have looked wholly fabulous and desirable from the outside, inside Gabby was drowning, and in her 25th year on planet earth, Gabby hit rock bottom and fell to her knees in desperation. And thank God for it, because it was from this place that she would learn the secret to transforming your life from the inside out - and guide thousands upon thousands of others to do the same.
She got herself sober through 12-Step recovery (big up), and became a student of A Course in Miracles- a self-study curriculum which aims to assist its readers in achieving spiritual transformation, primarily through the practice of forgiveness. Soon afterwards, she felt a deep calling from within that bringing the profound spiritual message of ‘The Course’ to her generation was the reason why she was here.
8 years, 3 books and a whole lotta yoga and meditation later, Gabby is now a bonafide world class motivational speaker and New York times bestseller, with a vast international audience of savvy spiritual seekers hanging off her every word. Looking around at the audience in London, we saw a right old melange of people, from lawyers to fashionistas, writers to entrepreneurs, teenagers to senior citizens – you name it – every conceivable social prototype seemed to be represented here.
From the outset, GB acknowledged the hard-hitting truth that we at AD have been struggling with over the last year: whilst spirituality and self-development is hip and happening in the U.S of A, us Brits are a good few years behind getting past the stigma that is still very much attached to self-help and the like. However, as one half of us shared on the roaming mic during the morning session, it is thanks to the brave trailblazers like Gabrielle that we now feel as though we have permission to speak about these deep-rooted issues, instead of masking them behind our stiff-upper-lips. And we’re not going to lie, the fact that Gabby is a gorgeous tiny yogic goddess crossed with a New York style queen certainly helps make spirituality seem massively attractive to the more skeptical out there (something to do with goats milk – you had to be there…)
So, let’s get down to business. Gabby’s “Bust Through the Blocks” workshop was for anyone who felt stuck in a rut in any (or every) area of their life, and who wanted to learn some practical tools and exercises to open themselves up to experiencing miraculous breakthroughs in these areas. Obvious blocks to happiness and flow that Gabby and audience members discussed included stress (a biggie for all of us in the modern world), addiction, and a lack of faith that we are loved and being divinely supported and guided. The objective of the day was evident from the start: to leave feeling more open, alive, free and at peace within ourselves, so that the internal blocks would be released and in time, the outer blocks would be, too.
Gabby structured the day around the five yogic sutras of the Aquarian age as set out by theYogi Bhajan(don’t worry, much of that was lost on us initially also, but GB simplified each of these clearly and eloquently as the day proceeded). Alongside each of these, Gabby introduced us to simpleKundalinimeditation and breathing exercises that we all took part in with our eyes shut (all the Brits in the room gave an audible sigh of relief). These exercises were carried out to a range of Gabby’s favourite tracks including Florence Welch’s“Shake it Out”, to more overtly spiritual tracks, including “Long Time Sun”by Snatum Kaur.
The first sutra that GB explored was the notion that “there is a way through every block;” if we open our minds and our hearts to the possibility of a loving creator that has our back (in whatever form that may be for the individual), then we can trust that solutions and guidance will present themselves to us. We can both attest that, having been in the murky depths of heart-break and quarter-life crisis only last year, opening ourselves to spirituality was the fundamental reason that our internal (and then external) realities began to radically change for the better. The way through the blocks comes from within ourselves, not from outer resources; we need to learn to train our inner guidance to be louder than the fearful voices in our head. Most importantly, when we receive clear guidance, we need to listen to and act upon it.
The next sutra that Gabby looked at was “recognise that the other person is you.” When we waste time and energy comparing our insides with other people’s outsides, we only ever end up attacking ourselves. Our egos would have us believe that we are less than to keep us feeling small (or overly large!) but the truth is that we are all equal, and must actively seek to refrain from judgement of ourselves or others. A powerful breathing exercise that Gabby had us work on here was theEgo Eradicator. This meditation left us feeling so buzzing that it genuinely felt as though we had knocked back a couple of Tequila’s – we highly recommend! (N.b Gabby told us all that our homework was to practice one of the meditations every day for 40 days. If you want to feel energized and alive, do this one every morning and weguarantee you will see results…)
Third, we looked at the sutra “When the time is on you, start, and the pressure will be off.” If you are an expert procrastinator like us, this one is a biggie. Most of us know deep down what we need to be getting on with (or ending…) This sutra is all about progress, not perfection – it’s about getting started wherever you are right now – not in January 2014 or in 6 months time – now. Don’t wait for the perfect time or circumstances to align, because they never will. There will always be a reason to start tomorrow, but take Gabby’s word for it – start today.
Next was “understand with compassion, or you will misunderstand the times.” Gabby used the pertinent example of Nelson Mandela to illustrate this one. Every time he was beaten while in prison, he practiced forgiving his perpetrators, until there came a point when they could physically hurt him no more, so overwhelmingly strong was the power of his compassion. The world’s suffering can only by healed by love and understanding – what we resist persists, so face every block or worry in your life from a place of gently acceptance and forgiveness.
The final sutra “vibrate the Cosmos; the Cosmos shall clear the path” was all about theboomerang effect of our energy. If we give out love, warmth, serenity, compassion, we will get them back ten-fold. To experience harmony externally, we have to practice experiencing it internally through consistent spiritual practice every day – whether it be meditating for ten minutes in the morning, writing a daily gratitude list expressing everything you are grateful for, or reading something positive daily that will nourish your spirit (this includes watching a good Ted Talk!) This must take absolute precedence in our lives, for as Gabby noted, anything we put before it, we will lose (and both of us know this to be true – the minute we put our romantic relationship before our spiritual one, it all goes tits up, quite frankly). Only when we choose to commit wholeheartedly to our own spiritual evolution will we see remarkable shifts in our perception, in our love lives, in our career and finances, and in our experience of life here on earth in general.
As poignant as GB’s meditations and words were, what made this a truly memorable event was her choice to open every topic up for discussion amongst the audience. We heard from a successful writer going through a career crisis, a young woman mourning the loss of a baby, and a man struggling to forgive himself for his past, among many, many others. It was hugely heart-warming to see our British polite and guarded facades slowly melt away as the day progressed. And, as Gabby had suggested, the breaks between the sessions were just as vital as the sessions themselves, for it was here that we bonded and connected with other like-minded individuals, and shared our own experiences of everything that Gabby was talking about.
Without a doubt, every single person left the workshop feeling lighter and more positive about the future, but more importantly, people who may have initially felt skeptical about the concept of spirituality were likely to have reconsidered their view by the end of the day. Gabrielle Bernstein’s passion to serve and help people to create a life beyond their wildest dreams was palpable from the moment she stepped on stage, and she is undeniably one of the most natural, fluid and engaging speakers about. If you’re still unconvinced, come and see her inLondon in March,and we’re pretty sure you’ll leave a self-confessed Spirit Junkie yourself.
Love Persia & Joey