The subtitle to The Universe Has Your Back by Gabriel Bernstein is ‘Transforming Fear to Faith.’ It was this subtitle that put me off this book for a long time. I’m not traditionally religious, and as such, generally veer away from faith-based media.
However, after a while, I decided that I could translate a couple words in my head, and then maybe it wouldn’t be so bad. I changed ‘faith’ to ‘trust,’ and ‘prayer’ to ‘affirmation.’
What I didn’t realize at the time was that I was already practicing one of the aspects of the book.
The Universe Has Your Back is a book based on A Course in Miracles, and revolves around the concept that all negative behaviors and actions are based on fear. We are aggressive because we feel the need to protect [the ego, our family, our status, our relationship, our person, etc.], we engage in destructive habits because we are afraid to face an aspect of ourselves, and so on.
Right off the bat, I realized I actually knew all of this. I remember learning it over a decade ago, when I lived in North Wales, working 16 hour work days 6 days a week because I didn’t have anything else to do with my time. When I did have my own time, I was meditating, practicing Ritual, and reading books on philosophy, spirituality, consciousness, and healing with love.
When I took a step back from school I did it with the intention that I was going to get back to myself. I knew that I once was very peaceful, that nothing phased me, and I could find compassion and understanding for everyone. In December, I couldn’t find that for myself, never mind anyone else. I set the intention to do exactly that: to find understanding and compassion from me so that I could express it for others. I wanted to find myself again, remember what I’d learned and what used to keep me at peace. This book was reminding me of all of these things.
Which is another practice in The Universe Has Your Back: surrender yourself to the Universe, and ask for guidance. So long as you’re asking in earnest and in love, then the universe will conspire to make it happen.
Bernstein outlines that when we find ourselves in a negative place that we should acknowledge, feel, and accept that feeling, forgive that we feel it, and then surrender it through [affirmation]. She says that we can always choose again, and choose the path of love or joy.
An example that Bernstein uses is being stuck in traffic. When finding the self getting upset and annoyed and angry at stuck traffic, say something along the lines of, ‘Thank you Universe for the opportunity to choose joy in this situation.’ In doing so, you’re verbally making the conscious effort to see the good in the situation.
Another example that she uses is when we are trying to control something, and nothing is going our way. We might say, ‘I surrender this fear that has led me to control. I choose again. I trust in the Universe and choose to be led by love.’
Both of these things can be explained psychologically. As I mentioned before, the actual act of saying these things helps to program our subconscious that we are ready to let go, that we are ready to make changes.
Personally, I believe that vibrations have an affect on the us and our surroundings. All matter is created of vibrations, as is sound, so why would they not interact? While I think that the English language is not designed with vibrational affects intended (that is, the types of vibration a word makes based on how you form the sound), I think that the emotion and intention behind it can go a long way (Read about the Water-Drop experiment by Masaru Emoto).
I have often said that we create our own reality. It was what I used to tell myself when I wanted to throw hot food at the customers who were rude to me in North Wales (damn tourists). This was something that led me to the question of what reality actually is, which led me into philosophy.
I knew that of course we couldn’t change the events that happened around us, but we could change how we reacted and saw these events. I knew this.
I forgot this.
One of the Universal Lessons provided by Bernstein is just this: ‘You see the world that you have made, but you don’t see yourself as the image-maker.’ This she derives from A Course in Miracles which says that Projection is Perception.
If we perceive things in a negative light, then we project things in a negative light.
There is a lot of ‘woo’ whatever (I keep using the word though I really dislike it. Make me stop, please) out there that says to just think and believe positively and abundance will flow to you. I think that the above concept is where this derives from.
It isn’t simply just to ignore the bad and focus on the good on the surface. You have to believe in the good. And in order to do that, you have to perceive the good. There is a deeper level to positive thinking and speaking. You have to look inside and find out what it is that’s blocking it, and work to unblock it.
While I don’t think that affirmations and clever Universal Lessons is the soul way to do it, I also don’t think that Bernstein thinks that either. She provides several meditations to practice on a daily basis based on Kundalini yoga practices. These include Sanskrit mantras and mudras (finger positionings) to enhance it. She encourages journaling and writing out your experiences.
Personally, while I do believe that professional help is essential when needed, I think that this is one of the best ways you can get to the core of yourself, and find out what’s blocking it. Daily meditation is so essential, and it’s right up there near the top of the list of self-care acts that I think just about all of us neglect.
Taking the time to still the mind gives it time to recharge. It allows emotions to still, and once you’re good at it, you can hear your inner voice begin to speak, and eventually, outer voices as well. Clarity will begin to set in, and you’ll rely more on yourself and your inner voice rather than your stressed-out brain.
I think that ultimately, the purpose of handing things over to the Universe is kind of like handing a baby over to someone so you can take a nap. It’s knowing that someone/thing else is taking care of the problem so you can recharge, still your mind, and listen to what needs doing.
Is it a mental trick? Is it magic? Is there a higher power watching over? I certainly don’t know. What I do know is that when I’m upset, when I feel anxiety creeping up, and when I’m feeling generally blue and sinking back toward depression, practicing the simple act of honoring what I’m feeling, breathing into it, releasing it by ‘surrendering it to the Universe,’ I do feel better. It does lift me up in some way.
For that reason, I do recommend these hip trendy self-care books. The intellectual and academic aspect of me rolls my eyes really loudly at them, but at the end of the day, if there’s a nugget of wisdom in them, and they’re appealing to the masses who desperately need to center and remember what love is, then why judge it? Why knock it? If it’s doing good in people’s lives and teaching people to love over fear (and let’s face it, there are two things driving the world: fear which leads to hate and prejudice, and greed—which can also be down to a fear of being without), then cheer for the folks who swear by this.
I was researching Bernstein and came across a podcast that Oprah is doing, and Bernstein was in the latest episode. I couldn’t stand to hear her talk. She was a little…sensationalized, gimmicky, and really, all the things that make me roll my eyes about self-help books. BUT! The audience was eating her up. They loved her. I know that it was just to sell her book, but there is still some truth in what she had to say, even if I don’t agree with her presentation, and if people heard the message, then keep on going, lady. You got this.
I actually listened to this book three times. I wanted to really make sure I got the meat of it—and I was listening to it on Audible, without the text in front of me, so I couldn’t skim through it.
I found that listening to it relaxed me, and made sense. I found that I really enjoyed listening to it while I took the dogs for a walk. I found that I could do the meditations somewhat while I was walking, and that it helped me connect to nature.
I think I needed to hear/experience this book because I needed to see the path to getting back to myself, and for that, I’m really grateful for this book. I still think that I’m not a fan of the presentation of this book, as there are a lot of self-gratifying stories in there, but they aren’t without nuggets of truth, and that’s what’s important.
I have actually found myself recommending this book to a couple of people, which surprised me. Because of this, I decided to make this my first book for this series. It sticks with you, and if you can strip away the public-pleasing aspect of it, there is a definite map to the path to growth.
Gabrielle Bernstein also created an oracle deck to go along with this book. It’s The Universe Has Your Back Oracle. I personally am not an Oracle fan, but I can see how this deck, which I believe is laden with [affirmations] can be beneficial.
Have you read this book? Have you read any of her other books? What do you think of what she has to say? Let me know in the comments. My goal for this series is to start discussions which I’d eventually like to move to a Facebook group. Help get the discussion going!
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