Should a soul-searching pilgrimage to Bali or a few Divinity School degrees to find your spiritual self be out of the question, no worries. Harvard-trained theologian, Meggan Watterson, did both. The 30-something New Yorker spent two decades studying holy texts, searching for the spiritual voices of women.
The results are in her new book, Reveal: A Sacred Manual for Getting Spiritually Naked, where Watterson provides a road map to finding love within yourself. (No plane ticket required.)
“I want this book to be the spiritual mentor that I couldn’t find, but desperately longed for when my journey began,” Watterson told us, after relaying a personal story about storming out of bible school at age 10 because of the way women’s voices weren’t heard.
We asked Watterson how her questioning, research, and journey lead her to being happier, bolder, and “spiritually naked”—and how we can have some of that for ourselves.
What’s the first thing women should know if they are struggling and haven’t found happiness and meaning in their lives yet? There’s a voice inside of you that knows your truth. And we’re each here for a sacred reason, and if we dare to follow that voice of truth inside of us, that voice of love, we can live out what a unique expression we each have to share. That to me, is happiness. The beginning is understanding that there will never be a voice outside of you that will lead you to your truth, happiness, meaning—a life beyond what you can even imagine right now. The courage that it takes to follow the voice inside of us is so uncelebrated—it’s something that you have to become loyal to and devoted to in the same way we imagine becoming devoted to a lover or partner. We can become that devoted and faithful to the voice inside of us, and it can lead us to a life that fulfills us and allows us to reach our potential with grace and magic.
Is there a way to get the sacred experience that occurs in meditation into our every day lives? At one point, I had this expectation that I’d sit on a cushion and light incense for 5 to 20 minutes a day. And the more and more I tried to superimpose that onto my life, the more I felt like a spiritual failure—that somehow I wasn’t doing things right. I had this longing but thought I didn’t have the correct discipline. The reality was sitting on a meditation cushion every day wasn’t what I needed to feel connected that place within. I needed it to be seamlessly interwoven into what was mundane.
So our spirituality is woven into mundane things like brushing our teeth? Yes, I’m standing in line at the grocery, and I’m going within myself, and asking a question and hearing an answer. I’m riding on the subway and I say, I’m going within, and I’m in nirvana and there are these people around me, and that is it. I’m a single mom—if I tried to carve out those 20 minutes, that would not happen. Sometimes all it takes is a moment of consciousness, going within, knowing the heart is always ready to share. My ego is going to want to rule the day, like every day, but to say “I’m choosing to listen to my heart today” is the game-changer. If you spend 30 minutes putting on makeup, connect with the Divine. Take something you already do and shift your consciousness around it. That one little tweak gives you so much more access to know what’s true.
You speak about coming out of the spiritual closet. Tell us more about what this means for you? To a certain extent we all have felt this certain obligation to be normal, to put on a facade or many veils or faces where we are displaying to others what we think won’t scare them, what won’t threaten, or intimidate or make them nervous. And we wear all these layers and think that in some way we’re staying safe by keeping ourselves in this box or this closet. I began to shed those layers and really share how much I did know—even if that scared people—how much I did intuit, how a mystical experience is not bizarre, and that it’s as every day as eating a piece of toast with coffee. The mystical is not extraordinary—not outside what is ordinary.
Choosing love over fear is a theme throughout the book. How do we really do this? An example is when you’re having a conversation with somebody, and they say something that upsets you. And rather than reacting, just being honest and revealing what is true for you in that moment is choosing love; shutting down would be choosing fear. Or it’s in the little moments of any day when you decide to tell the truth no matter how insignificant you think it is. You listen to that part of yourself you would normally keep silent and not share, and you let it blaze for a minute, and you don’t care about etiquette because you care more about telling the truth than being polite. There’s that quiet voice inside you that you’re putting the microphone up to. —Jennifer Kass