Eight years ago, when I was twenty-four and chronically ill, I cut out a picture of Martha Beck and pasted it to a vision board. (If you’re unfamiliar with the self-help aisle, a vision board is a photo collage of the things you want to attain or achieve—kind of like a visual Bucket List, except without the threat of looming death.)
I didn’t do this because Martha has a Ph.D. and a bunch of other Harvard degrees attached to her name, or because she’s a bestselling author, life coach extraordinaire, and O Magazine columnist who happens to be pals with Oprah…Well, maybe a little bit because of that last one. I’ve had a crush on Oprah since age ten.
I glued Martha Beck’s photo on my vision board because I’d read her memoir Expecting Adam and knew she had overcome the same kind of chronic, secret, mystery illness I was suffering from. She’d also left her religion in the most public way possible—writing a memoir, Leaving the Saints—and found faith outside the church. She was basically my hero.
So I made this promise to myself with my vision board: Someday I will be healthy, and I will tell Martha this story.
Last Monday, I did just that (!) when I had the opportunity to spend an hour interviewing Martha and bestselling author, doctor/soul healer Lissa Rankin, MD, about spiritual healing, overcoming Post-Traumatic Church Syndrome, and their upcoming, eight-week joint virtual workshop Coming Home to Your Spirit.
Lissa is a more recent personal hero of mine, but after reading Mind Over Medicine and experiencing firsthand her passion for holistic healing of body and soul, I knew I had to be in any class taught by this amazing duo—especially one that is laser-focused on spiritual growth.
I promptly signed up for Coming Home to Your Spirit, volunteered to be the class guinea pig (we’ll see if they take me up on it!), and pulled from our interview the following three spiritual practices Martha and Lissa use to ease suffering and tune into Peace.
Martha: Pay Attention to Your Body
Most Western religions separate the body from the spirit. They say the body is “bad” and the spirit is “good”. But your body is actually in league with your spirit, and listening to what you feel in your body will always guide you in the direction of truth.
Instead of thinking that your body is something evil that must be overcome, open yourself to the idea that when you feel your body relax, you’re moving in the direction that’s right for you, and when you feel your body tighten up, you’re moving further away.
It’s like that game—your body tells you if you’re getting “warmer” or “colder”, so if you can learn to feel your body, that will take you through all the levels of self-help. Sometimes clients think “listen to your body” sounds a little woo-woo. But it’s your body…it’s the least woo-woo thing about you.
Lissa: The Practice of Offering
Tosha Silver wrote about Offering in Outrageous Openness,and it’s a way to take a desire or problem and surrender it to the Divine.
Let’s say my ego wants something—people to behave, something to happen professionally, or a laundry list of desires or problems that need solving— as soon as I identify the desire or problem, even if it is something simple, I turn it over to the Divine. At first it was hard, but now I do it about 20 times a day.
I’m not giving God a shopping list… I’m literally saying: Here is the problem or desire, help me bring into being that which is in highest good and help me let go of that which isn’t. The practice of Offering means surrendering the outcome to the highest possible good.
Talk about tuning to frequency of miracles! There’s something about the Practice of Offering makes miraculous things happen…either circumstances will change or I will.
Offering has been so soothing; it has really eased a lot of my suffering. It has taken away all my anxiety and fear.
Martha and Lissa: Meditation
Lissa: Both Martha and I have a meditation practice. The act of sitting with one’s self, acknowledging the mind’s stories and paying attention to the breath—even for a few minutes every day—starts the process of change. You don’t actually have to do anything… the practice starts to do you.
Martha: There’s a stillness that came for me when I started meditating for hours instead of minutes. Stillness so deep and so powerful and so beautiful that on one frantic day, I said “Please, Stillness, help me.”
I just prayed to the concept of Stillness.
I don’t think it’s the name of God or anything, but it primes me to a different frequency than anxiety. When I’m in the middle of something hard, if I pause and say, “I’m offering this to Stillness,” things start to manifest really fast.
When you start feeling the texture of this intense, deep, loving, indescribable peace, when you start paying attention to that….it is as close to a magic spell as anything I’ve ever come across.
Well, there—I’ve never told anyone that, and now I’ve told you!
I learned so much during my hour with Martha and Lissa. Listen to the full interview for:
- The one state of consciousness you must experience in order to access all that the Divine has in store for you
- What it means to get “eaten by the leopard of love” and how to let it happen
- Tips for finding peace in the midst of adversity
- How to let your soul’s yearning call you to your true purpose
- Recovery tools for dealing with “Post-traumatic church syndrome”
- How to alchemize suffering into soul growth—and why it’s okay to move beyond it now
And I know this is only a preview of the next eight weeks of Coming Home to Your Spirit. I can’t wait!
My deepest thanks to Martha and Lissa for sharing their time and hearts with me “on air”, and especially to Martha for giving me the most precious gift—hope—in a time of crisis eight years ago.
Now I’m off to pay attention to my body, practice Offering, meditate…and make myself a new vision board!