With the release of her second book next week called Spirit Junkie, Gabby Bernstein, the 20-something city girl’s guru known for her hip approach to self-help, ventures into the world of deeper spiritual guidance.
While Spirit Junkie is far from memoir, it allows Bernstein’s readers a glimpse into her own journey to happiness, complete with drug addictions and failed relationships.
“It’s an appropriate time for me to put myself out there in a bigger way and say ‘This is who I am and this is how I got here,’” says Bernstein. “To be a teacher and a messenger, it’s important to be authentic.”
We caught up with the rising star to ask her more about what she hopes her followers, and skeptics, will get from Spirit Junkie.
Moving from fear to love is a main theme of Spirit Junkie. Is that what you hope readers will take away from the book? I think the main message is to help people transform their fear-based belief system. It’s about reconditioning your fear-based beliefs, which in many cases aren’t even real—or we’ve been carrying them around for a long time, and choosing to project them, rather than choosing to perceive something more loving.
A lot of people who help others lead more fulfilled lives advocate taking control of your life and your own happiness, but you talk about letting go and praying for a power greater than yourself to take control. Why? I’m glad you picked up on that. Taking control of something is not the approach I take. When we try to control, it will lead us to circumstances where we’re more anxious. So much is about letting go, releasing, literally relinquishing the need to control, the need to hold on. A huge part is connecting to our ~ing, our inner guidance system, inviting the voice of an internal teacher, a loving presence inside of us. It’s a much more passive approach to change, a spiritual approach. Spiritual work is not to be forced or controlled. While it is a practice and it takes daily work, it’s really about surrender.
The book is based on A Course in Miracles, and while you don’t use the terminology, the Course is centered around concepts of God and the Holy Spirit. Do you see this as a stumbling block for people who are turned off by religion or from different religious backgrounds? First of all, A Course in Miracles is totally nondenominational. There is Christian terminology, but it has nothing to do with religion. And I’m totally non-denominational. I’m a Jewish girl, I was brought up Buddhist, and I teach A Course in Miracles. What I’ve learned through my teacher, Marianne Williamson, is how to take the principles and understand them for me. My ~ing has taught me how to expand the spiritual lexicon and how to give a message in a fun, hip, relevant, easy-to-digest way.
You say you have the keys to heaven. Can anyone get a copy? Yes, they can! A Course in Miracles teaches us to live in the body but to think with the thoughts of heaven. One thing I always say is ‘Heaven on earth is not just a catch phrase’. Every thought we have is a choice, so when we choose love, we restore our thoughts to heaven. If we choose not to think with thoughts of fear, we become more miracle-minded. The more we activate miracles, the more love is all we see.
Right, but does someone have to believe in heaven to buy into this? Do you mean the actual afterlife or is heaven a concept of happiness? Heaven to me is a state of mind. It is a peaceful state and a choice we make. I do believe in life after death, but that’s a whole other interview. —Lisa Elaine Held
Spirit Junkie book launch and signing, Wednesday, September 14, 8–10:30 p.m., St. Mark’s Church in the Bowery, 131 East 10th St, at Second Avenue. RSVP here.