When I selected this book for reviewing, I was not familiar with the author (despite the book cover's statement that Forbes identified her as one of the 20 "best branded women"). The title and cover art made me think this was going to be a lighthearted book by someone who experimented with a variety of new-age spiritual activities. I thought it was going to be funny, possibly a satirical look at all the ways we try to find enlightenment in this life.
It is not. It is a fairly serious (despite some casual language and occasionally funny stories) exploration of her journey through A Course in Miracles. Through the 12 chapters, she takes the reader through the basic principles of the Course focusing particularly on fear and anxiety, the need to relinquish being "special" or labeling others as "special", and lots of work with what she calls the "F" word: forgiveness.
Despite my initial surprise at the serious tone of the book (not suggested by the title or cover art) I found myself pulled into her stories and observations. I am not a student of the Course, so much of her information was new to me, and I found it very engaging and interesting. I found myself resisting some of the concepts, but I suspect that is a normal reaction to new material which makes you rethink how you have previously perceived situations. Perhaps more important-- I also found myself relaxing as I read the book, and becoming more at peace with myself and with some people in my life. The book helped me to look at my own tendency to be a "victim" (which I would have denied prior to reading it) and helped me develop ways to get out of that role.
I recommend this book if you are interested in learning more about A Course in Miracles (the actual Course book is rather long-- this is a much quicker way to learn the main points) or are interested in learning more about the important role of forgiveness in your life.
This is a great spiritual memoir and guide by a Gen-Y version of Marianne Williamson, goddess of The Course of Miracles. If you are a baby boomer like me, you have to get past some of the gen-y jargon (and the slang from us boomers, such as cool, tripping and dig it...). The author also uses cutsie titles such as "The F Word" for the chapter on forgiveness, and cute words like "-ing" for "internal guide." But get past the language (or maybe you like it!) and it has great advice.
Her teachings are all paraphrases of and her own experience from what she calls "the Course"--and she integrates personal stories throughout the book, such as relationship breakups, forgiving others, getting off drugs, and more. She explains how the Course of Miracles book, and applying its principals, rescued her from a life of overeating, drugs, failed relationships, judging others, and low self-esteem.
My favorite, without doubt, is the chapter on the ego's illusion of someone being special, in particular teachers or romantic partners. In fact, the book drags at first, picking up at this chapter (chapter three, on p. 53). If only I had had her wisdom when I was so young! It would have saved me decades of grief, low self-esteem, etc.
This chapter is expanded upon in a later one, chapter 9, when Gabrielle finally finds the love of her life, the Divine Romance with Spirit. She realizes that she no longer needs a romantic partner in a man for feeling love, security and inspiration. "I had fallen in love with spirit...I now knew that love was not a one-time feeling I could access from a boyfriend. Love is in everything...Love was not something to be acquired; it was something I always had." She explains that she craved time alone to meditate, listen to music, write or draw, and found herself leaving parties early to do so!
Her passionate love affair with the Self is inspiring. It leads to meditations in which she sees sparks (and sometimes without meditating), a life filled with synchronicity and answered prayers, automatic handwriting, writing inspired books, confidence, love and joy.
But I also love the chapter on asking for help. The author claims that since asking for guidance every single morning, she has incredible synchronicity in her life. "By consciously asking my -ing for help, I experienced tons of synchronicity." I am inspired by this young woman's enthusiasm to ask for help more often--not just when I feel I need it; but everyday, and even several times a day.
The book is filled with great quotes, originals of the author, such as: "In fact, we only have one problem: that our mind chooses fear over love."... "The problem isn't the ego; the problem is your BELIEF in the ego."... "Outing the ego is empowering because we are reminded that it's a projection in our mind rather than our reality." Also, there are exercises and meditations throughout the book, as well as link for downloadable, audio meditations with her voice.
It's an inspiring adjunct to the Course of Miracles, written in such a way that young people can easily relate--and also useful for middle-aged people like myself who have been around the spiritual block but can always use some inspiration.
Susan Schenck, author of The Live Food Factor: The Comprehensive Guide to the Ultimate Diet for Body, Mind, Spirit & Planet
Beyond Broccoli, Creating a Biologically Balanced Diet When a Vegetarian Diet Doesn't Work
on September 26, 2011
From my perspective as the reader, the author's main intention is to: 1). Share more about her life with her readers. I get the sense that after the release of her `how to' first book, people wanted more insight into who she is and what events lead up to where she is now. 2). Share the teachings from "A Course in Miracles (ACM)" (there will be more on this later) and 3). Help her readers to identify where they are blocked in their lives, how to meditate on these blocks, and how they can reconnect with both their inner spirit and tap into the guiding force of the Universe.
Where I connected with the book:
I've read many books on topics similar to "Spirit Junkie". Like Gabby, my mom is incredibly oriented towards a spiritual life. It was a common conversation while I grew up and because of it and my own personal interest, I've read tons of books about topics related to spirituality, self-growth, and meditation. I appreciate that Gabby has advanced from working on her own self-growth as an individual to wanting to share this message to as many people as possible. She writes quite a bit about her past and her false lack of authenticity. I appreciate that she identifies the Ego early on in the book and bravely shares with her readers when she was living from a place of fear and ego versus a space of love, compassion, and authenticity. She has some wonderful moments throughout her book when the reader is able to connect with her message, her life, and even refer to her website where she has guided meditations that weave into the meditations written in her book. Its an easy book to read, filled with a fun `easy breezy' carefree vibe written in a style that connects with a young `in-the-know' audience.
Where I didn't connect with the book:
Early on in the book, Gabby has two big messages, or sections that distanced me from her as an author. These same messages also made me question if there is anything I would grasp from the book that would make a lasting difference with me as the reader. "Spirit Junkie" is for the most part based upon the guidance of ACM. I've owned a copy of this text for about 10 years and occasionally open it up every now and then to read a lesson from it. Gabby quotes and follows her self-taught training of this text throughout her book, and I get that this is her intention. I would have liked her to give more of a background about how ACM came to be. Because so much of "Spirit Junkie" is based upon this text, it seems odd to me that she would not give her reader more of a background on what exactly ACM is. To me, this just made me question Gabby's credibility as a leader in this field.
It is also difficult for me to relate to Gabby's life. She writes about hitting rock bottom and pretty much being in `crisis mode' for much of her adolescence and young adult life. It almost seems like this book is meant for the type of reader who has reached similar levels of fear, desperation, and dysfunctionality (which is totally fine, its just not where I've been). Because the first half of the book is retelling her story, it was difficult for me to stay engaged with the material. I found myself going several days without opening the book and becoming somewhat bored as I was reading. I wish this wasn't the case because I get the amazing message that she's attempting to spread with her writing.
In a nutshell:
If you're a woman between the ages of 20-40 and still new to reading about spiritual and personal growth topics, you may really like this book and connect deeply with it. However, if you're well read on topics like spirituality and self-growth or feel like you're ready for something more advanced or substantive, this may not be the book for you.
I really wanted to like Spirit Junkie--I normally love radical self improvement books. However, this one was filled with silly lingo and slang. For example: "~ing" was supposed to mean "inner guide". Each time I came across "~ing", I had to pause, come up with Gabby's definition of "~ing" (inner guide), then go back, re-read the sentence with the words inner guide placed back in. This really stopped the flow that I normally enjoy when I read books. I wanted to beg Gabrielle, "Just write inner guide! Stop the coy madness!"
Because of this flow problem, I simply didn't want to continue reading the book. I hated having to remember definitions of silly terms, which, if spelled out in plain english, I wouldn't have had that problem.
Her fictional words and uber-hip lingo were such a downfall that I stopped reading Spirit Junkie after a few chapters and moved on to the next book in my queue.
on September 28, 2012
I've never felt compelled to write a book review until now.
I've been gifted a number of self-help books in my twenty something years of depression and disaster on this planet, and in most of them I can find at least SOMETHING that appeals to me or at least leaves me with something to think about.
The writing is bad, the book itself is puny, and the author has nothing new or insightful to say. Recommending blind positivity and faith is dangerous to people who may have real substance abuse or mental problems. While more purely conceptual books like the one by Esther Hicks or books that prescribe concrete exercises to free emotional and creative blocks like The Artist's Way have helped me greatly at different points, this one gave me no insight and felt very cult-y. But somehow it's popular because the girl who wrote it knows how to sell and present herself.
Bottom line: the author comes across as fake and not even very solid in her own recovery. Spend your ten bucks elsewhere.
on December 1, 2012
I found the writing, the slang and the "Twilight" references to be very juvenile. Oddly enough, I thought Tweens would struggle with the language derived from "a Course in miracles". When I saw her interview with Oprah and heard about rising above loss through breakup, drugs and alcohol, I didn't expect it to be a high school romance, a couple of beers and a few joints. While I am pleased that these were the most traumatic things that happened to Ms. Bernstein, I struggled to relate.
on February 21, 2012
I loved "Return to Love" and really enjoy the movement behind the Course in Miracles so I was hoping that this book would add a fresh, edgy spin to what I've learned and bring my awareness to a new level. I was disappointed. As much as I understand Gabrielle's desire to share with the world her experience with Marianne's writings, this book added nothing to the concept. Furthermore, the new and "fresh" buzz words that were thrown in to add a younger feel ("homies?" really?) just sounded ridiculous and trite when paired with the spiritual and emotional nature of the material. I didn't learn anything new, nor did the book do anything to deepen my experience. I'm happy for Gabrielle that she has embraced this work as many of us have, but I really didn't need a pithy regurgitation of what I've already come to believe. Thanks anyway Gabby.
Although proclaimed a 'generation y self-help maven', I can't really buy this supposed healing journey. I guess time will tell if Bernstein is really finding her way to actual self-love and miracles or just cashing in on her branding.
I read this book with an open mind but it was not for me. It is based on A Course in Miracles by Marianne Williamson, and I won't disparage that book, because I haven't read it, but I wasn't inspired to read it by what I saw in Spirit Junkie. Of course, Spirit Junkie is touted as a radical road to discovering self-love and miracles for Generation Y females. The main spiritual issue that concerns Gabby is whether or not she has a boyfriend, or rather, how can she get past that feeling of not being happy unless she is in a special romantic relationship with a guy. At one point she compares her plight to Bella in the Twilight books--missing the love of Edward the Vampire and turning instead to Jacob the Werewolf. Though this was an apt analogy it pointed to the problem I was having connecting to this book: I was not a part of the target demographic. It did not speak to me in the coin of my own realm.
I did enjoy the personal anecdotes but I didn't connect with her re-hash of the Course in Miracles. She warned the readers at the outset that her ideas might seem crazy at first, and that she was going to "Gabbify" the language to speak to young women of her generation in their own language. At first, it did seem crazy--but the crazy parade just wouldn't stop! I kept an open mind, but it never resonated with me. I often found that she would take words and just redefine them at her whim. I took umbrage at her malapropisms. For instance, she constantly uses the word "ego" to stand for the fearful mind, but in a parenthetical comment she acknowledges that it is not the same as the ego in Freudian Psychology. The Ego, as Gabrielle Bernstein redefines it, is the fearful mind that keeps us from love and realizing that everyone is equal. Leggo my ego, Gabby! She talks about it like it is some kind of bogeyman. In psychological terms perhaps she meant the Id or the Super Ego? If she was going to spew that kind of psycho-babble then I could not take her the least bit seriously as a spiritual guru. Another of her coinages was using the tilde character as a verb (~ing) that stood for listening to your inner voice, your intuition, your inspiration. This was just too cute, but at least she didn't take an existing word and just make up a new meaning for it. This coinage was the topic of her previous book.
To summarize, Gabrielle Bernstein had a hippie mom who tried to get her involved with spiritual things but she rebelled. She became a party promoter in New York and was quite successful until the coke and non-stop partying life style caught up with her. To get off drugs she took a spiritual path. That worked but she had more work to do conquering her biggest addiction: the addiction to feeling that she needed a special romantic relationship with a guy. At one point she describes a trip to Brazil with her mother to visit a healer called John of God, and this and other personal anecdotes were the best part of Spirit Junkie, for me. Gabrielle also impressed me with the work she put into journaling, meditating, and building up her business as a life coach and a book author. The Bottom Line is that I just didn't buy her brand of enlightenment. I wish her all the best on her spiritual journey, but her way is not for me. Your mileage may vary.
on February 22, 2013
So, three things:
1) The most insightful bits in here are the handful of passages directly from a Course in Miracles, so if you want substance, buy one of those books, ounce for ounce you will get more for your money.
2) Marianne Williamson's work is much stronger and she doesn't feel the need to constantly talk about herself (the author rambles through a self-absorbed, personal memoir that reads more like her therapy journal and every other word is "I." Buy something vintage from Williamson.
3) The insistence on referring to "-ing" instead of a more mature reference like "inner voice" or "spirit" is irritating and distracting - like the Rachel Ray, "EVOO" of self help. She manages to use "spirit" once or twice in the final chapter, but by then it was too late for this reader. This may be her schtick, but not recommended.