You’ve all heard the story about the hard partier/drug addict/junk-food-lover who turned their life around by adopting a healthy diet and meditation practice. These stories are amazing and inspiring, but they are not mine. In fact, my story is quite the opposite.
When I was 22, I started learning about veganism, spirituality, and personal growth. I was absolutely in awe, and over the next five years, I covered it all: raw food, chakras, yoga, ayahuasca, sound healing, A Course in Miracles, tantra, a Vipassana silent retreat, Kundalini—you name it, I tried it. I bought the juicer and the crystals and the podcasts and oracle cards and I went to reiki appointments and psychics and energy healers and EFT sessions. I dove in headfirst and became a total self-help junkie.
At first, it was exhilarating, and I couldn’t get enough of it. Learning about energy and the subconscious mind fascinated me in a way that nothing else ever had. I wanted to attain this transcendent state that I was reading about, and I committed myself to a spiritual path.
After a while, though, it stopped feeling fun, and it just started feeling like an awful lot of work. I was on a constant quest to fix myself, and not only did it feel endless, but it also wasn’t making me very happy. I devoted hours upon hours to analyzing my birth chart, my past lives, my subconscious beliefs, and on and on in some vain attempt to be a better, happier person.
I’m not saying this to bash all of the amazing spiritual books I read over the years. These books truly helped me change my life. They taught me about the most amazing concepts from the most powerful spiritual teachers. They opened my eyes to a new way of living.
The only problem was that I got stuck. I got stuck in the studying phase and felt too scared to go out into the world and just live. I got stuck on the idea that there was something wrong with me, and I convinced myself that these books and resources and spiritual practices were the only things that could help me figure out my life. I forgot how to think for and trust myself, and I relied on these books to tell me how to live.
One day, I found myself exhausted and crying on my bedroom floor thinking, If I have to do one more self-help exercise, I am going to scream. I was so tired of fighting so hard for a better life and seeing no results. I was sick of treating myself like a project, and I knew it needed to stop.
Slowly, I started letting go of my elaborate spiritual practices and began allowing myself to just chill out and enjoy life. I prioritized happiness, and I began to think about what fun actually meant to me. I began asking myself how I truly wanted to live my life. Turns out it’s not by getting up at 4 a.m. to chant in Sanskrit for an hour. Go figure.
I realized that actually I love foods that contain gluten and drinks that make me tipsy. I remembered how fun it can be to get dressed up and go out to a bar and how freeing it is to lie in bed and binge-watch your favorite show, guilt-free.
I’d been so scared that if I let myself enjoy the things I liked, I’d become a total mess. I’d be this latte-guzzling, junk-food-eating slob with no ambition. I felt like the only thing keeping me clear and healthy were my rules.
What I’ve learned is that I love being healthy—doing Pilates and drinking herbal tea and smoothies really does make me happy. But so do nights out, makeup, Netflix, and vodka sodas.
I read this Courtney Walsh poem once, and it blew my mind.
Dear Human: You’ve got it all wrong.
You didn’t come here to master unconditional love.
That is where you came from and where you’ll return.
You came here to learn personal love.
Universal love. Messy love. Sweaty love.
Crazy love. Broken love. Whole love.
Infused with divinity. Lived through the grace of stumbling.
Demonstrated through the beauty of…messing up. Often.
You didn’t come here to be perfect. You already are.
You came here to be gorgeously human. Flawed and fabulous.
And then to rise again into remembering.
But unconditional love? Stop telling that story.
Love, in truth, doesn’t need ANY other adjectives.
It doesn’t require modifiers.
It doesn’t require the condition of perfection.
It only asks that you show up. And do your best.
That you stay present and feel fully.
That you shine and fly and laugh and cry
and hurt and heal and fall and get back up
and play and work and live and die as YOU.
It’s enough. It’s plenty.
It reminded me that nothing needed to be earned or perfected. There was no spiritual mission I was here to figure out. We’re here to have fun and enjoy life and to trust ourselves and the universe, which by default will help the world to be a better place.
The law of attraction teaches that like attracts like. While I was stressing about my life, and praying that my self-help work would fix it, all I attracted was more stress, worry, and feelings of inadequacy.
Nowadays, I don’t have a morning routine or a meditation practice or a raw food diet. And I can honestly say that I’m happier than I’ve ever been. I follow my bliss, and I do what feels right. I believe that this has allowed me to put out a much different energy into the universe, and I now attract a much fuller and happier life experience.
I feel happier and healthier than I ever did when I was a vegan, or totally sober, or studying A Course in Miracles—not because there is anything wrong with these practices but because I was doing them for the wrong reasons. Chilling out and trusting myself is my new spiritual practice, and it is rocking my world.