The ignorance within.

Recently, I went down a rabbit hole of the Vedic type as one does when you’re working on Ayurvedic self-study. I found myself immersed in the Isha Upanishad, specifically focused on the ideas of Vidhya vs. Avidhya.  Before going on, it’s important to briefly break down what each of these means in order to understand the depth of these concepts. Simply put, Vidhya can be described as the innate clarity, wisdom, and understanding of the world that we all possess. Conversely, Avidhya relates to spiritual ignorance or the forgetfulness that we are a part of everything. Avidhya essentially leads to the concept of ego and the manifestation of “I.” This relationship is beautifully portrayed in Hymn 7 of the Isha Upanishad:

When to a man who understands, 

the Self has become all things, 

what sorrow, what trouble can there be, 

to him who beholds the unity. 

~ Isha Upanishad, Hymn 7

The root of suffering comes from the ignorance of Avidhya as it is the consideration that ones Self is completely unique and distinct from the Self of others. When we believe that our problems or woes are different or even worse than that of another, we lack the spiritual unity of oneness (Vidhya) and may find ourselves trapped in the stories we tell ourselves. The Avidhya-affected individual must look beyond ego in order to end their suffering.

I remember this concept being planted in my brain during the first couple weeks of yoga teacher training. At that time I don’t think that the concept fully took root due to the abundance of information we received those first weeks, but it did provide me with inspiration to sit with. In my personal relationship with anxiety and depression, I’ve come up with plenty narratives in which I tell myself that my problems are worse than others (like the underdeveloped brain of a teenager saying “nobody understands ME!”). But, how selfish and closed minded is it to think that I am that unique? Every intelligent being in the universe experiences hardships or obstacles in their existence. If we wish to live a life free of suffering, we must be grounded in knowing that we share an anchored connection with the universe. Knowing that we ALL share the same inner dialogues or scripted personal narratives is actually refreshingly comforting and has given me an indescribable amount of clarity which brings me a profound sense of peace.

You are me and I am you. 

Book Review: The Universe Has Your Back by Gabrielle Bernstein

A couple months ago, I found myself scrolling through Audible’s library of recommended books and stumbled upon Gabrielle Bernstein’s latest bookff91b6fa807b88f4acfb48208eba14d3 “The Universe Has Your Back: Transform Fear to Faith.” I hadn’t read any reviews on this book and had a free book credit to spare so I downloaded it, figuring it wouldn’t hurt to listen to.  Gabby states that this book helps the reader to regain control of their life in order to invite in more happiness and a clear direction. This self-proclaimed “spirit junkie” invites us to take a look inward and discover that with a little work through meditation, mantras, and positive thinking, we can transcend our fear based thinking.

Gabby is a firm believer in the power of thoughts and how they can manifest themselves to reality. She provides numerous examples of how our old thought patterns pose as road blocks in our journey of spiritual transformation. While I loved that she provided numerous personal examples of how our stale behavior patterns prevent us from reaching our potential, I did feel like some were self-indulgent, shallow, and a bit of a humble brag.

The book is sprinkled with helpful little “ah-ha!” moments that I allowed myself to sit with and replay the audio numerous times. Gabby also provides another online resource of guided meditations; some of which are titled: “Honor Your Feelings,” “Turn Over Your Obstacles,” and “Meditation For Oneness.” I found these meditations to be incredibly transformative and I truly saw results in my personal and professional life. I created a mantra for myself that I tweaked from Gabby’s direction which read: I am open to and worthy of growth and abundance in my life and my business. In my spa business I saw incredible monetary rewards almost instantly. At one point I thought about a client I hadn’t seen in a while and literally within 5 minutes of me saying a mantra with her in mind, she texted me to book an appointment in the spa! My mind was blown! Maybe it was a coincidence, maybe it wasn’t. I’m a skeptic of all this woo-woo stuff but honestly, when you give it a genuine try, you might surprise yourself with where it takes you.

“Your purpose is to be joyful. Your purpose is to live with ease. Your purpose is to surrender to the love of the Universe so you can live a happy life. Accept the purpose of love, and your life will radically change this instant.” – Gabrielle Bernstein, The Universe Has Your Back: Transform Fear to Faith

Now, I can’t say that this book will propel you into a completely new life with an attractive new lover and money flowing to you, but it does trigger some healthy (perhaps new) thought patterns to build a more assertive and positive version of yourself.

I listened to this book while driving, working out, folding laundry, and completed the meditations before bed. I found that her way of story telling was personable, uplifting, and convincing. If you’re looking for a quick read (or listen) on spiritual transformation, check it out!

Overall: 4/5 (I rated this as a 4 because I do feel like there is an element of her elevating herself in a cool California girl sort of way- otherwise, I genuinely felt this to be some great spiritual guidance).