One Day My Soul Just Opened Up: 40 Days and 40 Nights Towards Spiritual Strength and Personal Growth

One Day My Soul Just Opened Up: 40 Days and 40 Nights Towards Spiritual Strength and Personal Growth

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by Iyanla Vanzant
     
 

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From Iyanla Vanzant, the star of the hit Oprah Winfrey Network show Iyanla: Fix My Life, One Day My Soul Just Opened Up is a program of inspiration and motivation that will help you work through problems and improve your emotional and spiritual health.

Through exercises and readings, Iyanla provides you with the tools to tap into your strengths

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Overview

From Iyanla Vanzant, the star of the hit Oprah Winfrey Network show Iyanla: Fix My Life, One Day My Soul Just Opened Up is a program of inspiration and motivation that will help you work through problems and improve your emotional and spiritual health.

Through exercises and readings, Iyanla provides you with the tools to tap into your strengths and make your dreams come true. One Day My Soul Just Opened Up will open your mind, heart, and soul to the truth of your identity as a creative and powerful being.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Tavis Smiley Host of BET Tonight with Tavis Smiley Everyday I read Iyanla Vanzant's inspired work, my sould just opens up! And so will yours if you heed her advice on how to achieve a greater sense of self-awareness and self-assurance.
Library Journal
Vanzant is a motivational speaker, spiritual counselor, ordained minister, and Yoruba priestess (minister of the ancient Nigerian religion). A frequent guest on the Oprah Winfrey Show, this prolific author also makes regular appearances on best sellers lists. Yesterday, I Cried is chiefly an autobiographical account of how Vanzant triumphed over her troubled past to achieve success. Losing her mother at age three, she was a childhood victim of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. A single mother at 16, Vanzant rushed into an abusive marriage at 19 and was soon raising three children alone on welfare. Despite this, she earned both undergraduate and law degrees and now counsels others on overcoming difficult circumstances to achieve happiness and spiritual fulfillment. In One Day My Soul Just Opened Up, Vanzant speaks of pursuing spiritual and personal growth. Unfortunately, her advice is often redundant and sprinkled with vague platitudes, e.g., "You can only have what is for you to have" and "Love will heal anything that is not an expression of love." Though Vanzant's rich, sonorous voice is certainly an asset to these abridged productions, it cannot compensate for their meager content. Her many fans will probably expect to find these at public libraries, but purchase only to cover demand.--Beth Farrell, Portage Cty. Dist. Lib., OH Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780684841342
Publisher:
Touchstone
Publication date:
01/28/1998
Pages:
320
Sales rank:
131,543
Product dimensions:
4.70(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.10(d)

Read an Excerpt

Day 7: Honor the Divine with...PEACEFULNESS

Working Definition:

The principle we are working with today is PEACE. It is an internal state of harmony and tranquillity derived from the awareness of peace. Thought, word, and deed produced in response to a desire to create, promote, or maintain a state of peace.

Commentary on PEACEFULNESS

My friend Joia told me a story about a woman and some birds that gave me great insights on peacefulness. She heard the story from her guru, Swami Chidvilasananda (widely known as Gurumayi), a teacher of the Siddha Yoga tradition.

One day a woman went to the park to meditate. She found a quiet, sunny place, spread her blanket, and sat down. She closed her eyes, breathed deeply, and was prepared to begin an inward exploration of her thoughts and feelings. As her breathing became regulated and her mind still, she became aware of some birds chirping near her. At first it was a melodic and peaceful addition to her inward journey. Within moments, however, the birds began to squawk, almost scream at each other. As the woman tried to stay focused on her breathing, the birds seemed to squawk louder and louder.

The woman's eyes flew open. There were at least twenty birds sitting around her, screeching at each other. She looked around and the rest of the park was empty. Halfheartedly, with a flinging gesture of her hands, the woman shooed the birds away. Some left. Some remained. Those who remained became very quiet, until she closed her eyes.

It seemed as if the second she closed her eyes, the birds started screeching again. Quite annoyed, the woman got up and moved. The birds flew away. Upon finding another prime spot of grass, the woman sat down to begin the process all over again. As soon as she did, the birds came back. "This is ridiculous!" the woman said to the birds. "Shoo! Shoo! Go on! Get out of here!" The birds flew a little higher, but in a seeming act of defiance, they continued to squawk. Totally pissed off with the birds for disturbing her peace, the woman stood up and began to chase the birds. She would run to the left, and fling her blanket at them. The birds would fly away, but they wouldn't shut up. As soon as she cleared those on the left, a new crew arrived to her right. Changing directions, she would shoo them away. They would circle her, squawking, and swoop down a few feet away. Within moments, the woman was flinging her arms around like a lunatic, screaming at the birds who were squawking back at her. Realizing how crazy she must have looked, she snatched her blanket from the ground and stormed out of the park.

Later that evening the woman had an opportunity to relate her experience in the park to her guru, her teacher. Her exasperation returned even in the midst of telling the story. The guru smiled and asked, "Why did you not welcome them to join you?" "How was I supposed to do that?" she asked. "Om Nama Shiva," the Guru responded, "which means, 'I surrender to Shiva (meaning the God) within me.'"

A few days later the woman went back to the park. She went through the entire process again. The moment she became still, the birds began to sing. As soon as she heard them, she mentally affirmed, "Om Nama Shiva." The birds began to squawk. "Om Nama Shiva." It began to sound as if every bird in the state had converged on the very spot where she was sitting. She never opened her eyes. She continued to breathe deeply, affirming louder and louder in her mind, "Om Nama Shiva. Om Nama Shiva! OM NAMA SHIVA!" She thought the words faster and louder. So fast and loud in fact that she became so mentally exhilarated that she stopped. It was then that she noticed the silence. Either the birds had flown away or simply shut up. She did not open her eyes to determine which had occurred.

Why is it that we will walk into a room of screaming children and yell at the top of our lungs, "BE QUIET!" If you want peace, be peace. My grandson Oluwa, age five, is afflicted with a common childhood ailment. He cannot speak below 100 decibels. He yells as if he secretly believes that everyone in the room is hard of hearing. One day someone in the family (due to threats of being sued for slander, I cannot reveal who) became so frustrated with him that they yelled, "Will you please be quiet!" Other people present in the room chimed in by screaming, "Thank you!" His silence lasted for about three minutes. His next comment was made at the usual ear-piercing level.

If you want peace, be peaceful. Because I am the wise old granny, I have learned to take a completely different approach. When Oluwa screams at me, I crouch down to his level, put my nose directly up against his nose, smile, and whisper, "I can't hear you. You are talking too loud." He didn't get it at first, but I would stay there, staring at him eyeball to eyeball, until he lowered his voice. Now when Oluwa approaches me, he usually whispers so softly I must ask him to repeat himself. He and everyone else in the family still seem to have a problem hearing one another. I watch them and I smile. If you want to experience peacefulness you must begin from a posture of peace. One word of caution: Be prepared to stay in that posture for as long as it takes.

Commentary Journal

After reading today's commentary, I realize

The key phrase(s) I want to remember and work with today are

Morning PEACEFULNESS Affirmation

I am PEACE, PEACEFULLY expressing myself as PEACEFULNESS.

I am PEACE, PEACEFULLY expressing myself as PEACEFULNESS.

I am PEACE, PEACEFULLY expressing myself as PEACEFULNESS.

I am PEACE, PEACEFULLY expressing myself as PEACEFULNESS.

I am PEACE, PEACEFULLY expressing myself as PEACEFULNESS.

I am PEACE, PEACEFULLY expressing myself as PEACEFULNESS.

I am PEACE, PEACEFULLY expressing myself as PEACEFULNESS.

I am PEACE, PEACEFULLY expressing myself as PEACEFULNESS.

I am PEACE, PEACEFULLY expressing myself as PEACEFULNESS.

Nothing can disturb this expression of PEACEFUL PEACEFULNESS.

Nothing can disturb this expression of PEACEFUL PEACEFULNESS.

Nothing can disturb this expression of PEACEFUL PEACEFULNESS.

Nothing can disturb this expression of PEACEFUL PEACEFULNESS.

Nothing can disturb this expression of PEACEFUL PEACEFULNESS.

Nothing can disturb this expression of PEACEFUL PEACEFULNESS.

Nothing can disturb this expression of PEACEFUL PEACEFULNESS.

Nothing can disturb this expression of PEACEFUL PEACEFULNESS.

Nothing can disturb this expression of PEACEFUL PEACEFULNESS.

PEACE is the order of this day.

PEACE is the order of this day.

PEACE is the order of this day.

As I am, So It Is!

For this I am so grateful!

Let Me Remember...

To have peace, I must be PEACEFUL.

I can choose PEACE in all situations.

Nothing in the world can disturb the PEACE I create within.

I welcome others to join me in PEACE.

Evening PEACEFULNESS Journal

Today, I realized it is easy to remain PEACEFUL when

I find it is difficult for me to remain PEACEFUL when

As of this moment I am completely at PEACE about

Copyright © 1998 by Iyanla Vanzant

Day 21: Honor Others with...FORGIVENESS

Working Definition:

The principle we are working with today is FORGIVENESS. It is release. Letting go. The process of removing errors from the mind in pursuit of harmony. The release of what is false for what is true. Giving up of a thought or emotion in order to facilitate change of the thought or emotion.

Commentary on FORGIVENESS

"How long are you going to stay mad and hurt?" I didn't know, but I knew I was not ready to not be mad yet. What she had done to me was unforgivable! Besides that, somewhere in the back of my mind I actually believed that the longer I stayed mad, the more she would suffer. After a while, what she had done was no longer the issue. The issue was her suffering. She had to suffer! And I wanted everyone to know that she was suffering because of what she had done to me! I wanted to read about her suffering in the newspaper! Then and only then would I even consider not being mad at her anymore. She must have known I was mad at her, because one day she quietly died in her sleep. I wanted to say, "Good for her!" But I was too mad. Many, many years after her death I was mad, I was miserable. I was still hurt, and she was still dead. Now, what kind of sense did that make?

Most people believe that when you forgive someone, you are doing something for them. The truth is, when you forgive, you are doing it for yourself. As it relates to forgiveness, you must give up what you do not want in order to make room for what you do want. You must give up pain, anger, resentment, and fear in order to experience goodness, joy, peace, and love. For some reason, we believe that if we forgive someone they might get to the good stuff before we do. Offering another the forgiveness they need strengthens the spiritual nature in you. It is this nature and your consciousness of this nature that reaps you the benefits of life. When you withhold forgiveness or love from anyone, for any reason, it diminishes your awareness of the abundance of good in life. You are stuck in so much old stuff, new stuff has no way of getting to you. In essence, the good that you withhold from others will be withheld from you.

As long as you hold on to the belief that anyone on earth can do anything to you, you will be unable to forgive. People cannot change who you are and what you were born to be. They can create obstacles in your path. They can do things that make you believe you are other than what you are, but people cannot change, alter, or in any way hinder the truth of your being. The truth is you are divine. The truth is that the divine source of life made you perfect and complete, and nothing anyone does can change that. The truth is we all forget that we are divine and act out of our human fears, beliefs, and perceptions. In doing so, we offend one another's sensibilities, we ignore one another's boundaries, we lash out, strike out, and in other uncompassionate ways dump our pain on one another. It does not change who we are. It makes us believe we are less than we are. This makes us mad, and in holding on to our madness, we refuse to forgive.

There is no one who does not make mistakes. Mistakes are a way of human life. We mistake what we see for the truth. We do not realize that there is always more to life than we can see and that the truth is not always visible to the naked eye. We mistake what we know for all there is. What we do not realize is, we don't always know the whole story. At any given time in your life, there are characters, plots, and story lines that have not yet been presented. When you do not know the whole story, almost any conclusion you draw will be a mistaken conclusion. We mistake our experiences, particularly bad experiences, to be indications of who we are and what we deserve. Even when we know we deserve better, we mistake our experiences for the obstacles that can keep us from experiencing more. Sometimes, we make the mistake of thinking that other people have the power to control or alter our destiny. It is our beliefs, mistaken and otherwise, that ultimately determine what we will do or be in life, not another person.

If we did not make mistakes we would not learn what works and what does not work. Each time we make a mistake we are provided with an opportunity to be corrected. The divine spirit of life is self-correcting. It will show us our mistakes in the form of the pain and suffering that we endure. It will show us our mistakes through mental unrest and emotional dissatisfaction. Unfortunately, when we encounter the results of our mistaken beliefs, choices, and perceptions, we blame other people. We hold others accountable for what we think, feel, or believe. We believe our experiences make us who we are in life, and then we blame the players in our experiences. The biggest mistake we all make is believing that other people can hurt us. When we believe they have done so, we are unwilling to forgive them.

My aunt refused to acknowledge that my uncle, her husband, had raped me. She acted as if it did not matter. Translation: I did not matter, and what he had done to me did not matter. I concluded that she didn't care about me, that he was wicked, that I was dirty, and that life in general sucked! I held onto the memory of that experience, and my translations, conclusions, and the anger for a very long time. When a counselor asked me how long was I going to stay mad, it was sixteen years, three children, one bad marriage, and several heartbreaking relationships later. "What do you want her to do?" she asked. I wanted her to acknowledge me. I wanted her to acknowledge that what he had done was wrong. "And how would that make you feel?" "Better!" I said. Since my aunt was dead, she suggested that I needed to find another way to feel better. She suggested that I try forgiving my aunt for not acknowledging me, and for making the mistake of believing that if she had acknowledged what her husband had done it would have meant the end of her marriage. I told her she was out of her mind!

When being hurt and angry and believing you are less than you are does not get you what you want, it is time to forgive. When you cannot move beyond the memories of what someone else has done to you and those memories keep you hurt, angry, or in any way limited in life, it is time to forgive. When the only thing you remember about someone is what they did to you and not the fact that they are a human being prone to make mistakes, it is time to forgive. When you believe you know the whole story of why someone did what they did and believe that if they had done anything else, you would be different, it is time to forgive. If you don't like yourself, it is time to forgive. If there is anyone, anywhere on the planet you can honestly say that you do not love, it is time to forgive. If you are overweight, underweight, out of cash, in a bad relationship, working in an unfulfilling career, have corns on your little toes, have a cold or a toothache, there is somebody, somewhere you need to forgive. Start with yourself. Forgive yourself for believing that anyone who occupies the flesh form as a human being could in any way alter the truth of your being. Once you've done that it will be easy to forgive anyone for anything, particularly if you are holding them hostage for making human errors.

Commentary Journal

After reading today's commentary, I realize

The key phrase(s) I want to remember and work with today are

Morning FORGIVENESS Affirmation

I am now ready and willing to receive the perfecting presence of Spirit in my life.

I now open my mind and heart to the divine understanding of Spirit.

I now FORGIVE myself for every thought, word, and deed I have embraced or undertaken that has kept me from the realization of the truth about myself, and the perfect unfolding of the divine plan for my life.

I am now ready and willing to receive the perfecting presence of Spirit in my life.

I now open my mind and heart to the divine understanding of Spirit.

I now FORGIVE everyone for every thought, word, and deed they have embraced or undertaken that has kept them from the realization of the truth about themselves and me, and the perfect unfolding of the divine plan for our lives.

I FORGIVE all! I release all! I am now free from all except the perfect and Divine plan and purpose for my life!

For this, I am so grateful!

And So It Is!

Let Me Remember...

God has always FORGIVEN me.

I can FORGIVE myself.

To FORGIVE is to be free.

Being angry or hurt will not get me what I want.

What I withhold from another will be withheld from me.

Evening FORGIVENESS Journal

Today, I realize I have been unwilling or unable to FORGIVE because

I realize that I would be willing to FORGIVE____________________if

I now realize the need that being unwilling to FORGIVE has

Copyright © 1998 by Iyanla Vanzant

From Chapter One: Removing the Veil

At one point in my life, I really thought I had it all figured out. I was working in my dream career field. I had a decent home. I was in a solid relationship. My children were being normal teenagers. Then, one morning I woke up miserable. Nothing in particular had happened. Well, actually it had. Sometime during the night, when I was asleep, I decided to tell myself the truth. I hated my job. I was lonely living in a new city where I knew no one. I was dating a married man. And I felt like I had been a horrible mother, totally incapable of ever making up to my children for the years of insanity I had inflicted upon them. People looking from the outside in thought that I had really made it! Who was I to doubt them? I convinced myself through my daily motions that they were right.

The feelings of misery, confusion, and despair began to grow like an annoying fungus in my mind. My thinking was fuzzy. I was snapping at people. I had become professionally aggressive and competitive to the point of being combative. Each day, I would push myself to exhaustion so that no more truth could be, would be, revealed to me when I was sleeping. I clung to the relationship believing that if it ended, I would surely lose my mind. It did. And I did. I lost the mind that had kept me in denial for the better part of my life. I lost the mind that was so full of distortions, halftruths, and the ideas of others that it fed my misery like a ravenous dog. I lost the mind that was angry at my mother, hated my father, resented my brother, wanted to control everything and everybody in its midst that could in any way hurt me. At the time, I didn't realize what was going on. I thought I was having a string of bad luck. As I watched my life fall to pieces, I did what any mindless person would do. I got totally pissed off! It is called temporary insanity.

There is something strange that happens when you go insane . . . people help you stay there! There are those who recognize your anger and support you in it. You have told them your story. They know why you are mad. What do they do? They get mad right along with you. They help you rant and rave. They even go so far as to offer you a drink in the process. Then there are those who recognize your confusion. You've told them your story too. As a matter of fact, you have probably called them every day with twisting, turning updates that keep you in a state of rage and confusion. What do they do? They offer you suggestions. They tell you what to do and what to say. At the time, it all sounds good. However, when the time comes for you to do or say what they have told you, confusion reigns supreme, insanity surfaces, and you retreat into being PO'd.

Although I did not realize it at the time, I was lucky. There was one person in my life who immediately recognized my confusion, anger, and insanity. This very astute individual went so far as to detect an even greater vulnerability. Fear. The fear that I was losing control. Fear that other people would judge me. The fear that, for some reason I was not willing to explore or mention, I was being punished. More important, this person recognized that beneath it all there was a need for me to grow. A need for me to change. They knew that I had entered a sort of spiritual twilight zone where nothing made sense, but everything was making perfect sense. I was on a journey to a place that would require boldness of heart, strength of mind, and power of spirit. This person listened to the story, offering only one seemingly useless suggestion: "Remain open. There is something bigger than you know going on here." Well, la-de-da! What the heck was that supposed to mean?

I made it through that experience. Things got better, and then they fell apart again. I changed careers. I changed partners. I cut my hair and lost thirty-two pounds. Things got better, and then they fell apart again. In the process something wonderful happened. I picked up certain abilities, habits and practices that led me to the realization that things never really fall apart they simply change. Somehow, even when I felt as if I was about to lose my mind (again), I could hold on to the notion that everything is always as i should be. If I was to be insane, I would just be insane. Perhaps I was sleeping when I came into the one realization that continues to sustain me: "If you know who walks beside you, you can never be afraid!" I wish I knew the exact moment and time it happened because I would have had a party. now believe it was in that instant that my soul opened up and the spirit of the Divine entered my life.

I have met hundreds of thousands of people I recognize from my own experiences to be utterly insane. It is not the kind of insanity that will get you tossed into the looney bin. It is a kind of insanity that keeps you in a struggle for control of your life and everyone in it. The kind of insanity we are talking about here is a kind that keeps you pushing yourself, striving to do more, be better, and get ahead. Unfortunately, because you are insane, when you get ahead, when you are better, and when you get more, it is still not enough. The insanity that plagues more than half of the adult population of most countries is a kind that makes fully capable, able-bodied people stay on jobs in which they are miserable. These insane people stay in relationships where they cheat or are cheated on. They remain in situations of all kinds where they are abused, neglected, demeaned, overlooked, and, in many ways I cannot enumerate, otherwise dehumanized. The insanity I am identifying here is the kind that makes you forget who walks beside you and who lives within you and that, as a result of this loss of memory, shuts down your soul.

If you or anyone you know show signs of these symptoms, beware! This person could be walking around convinced that he or she is fine. Most insane people do that, you know. Be aware that beneath the "everything is fine" exterior, there may be a malignant fungus of fear, confusion, and misery eating away at the soul. As the soul is eaten away, each day becomes a task of drudgery. The people in the environment become crutches and victims, or perceived oppressors. If you or anyone you know is in the midst of something or everything falling apart, take heed! This could be the first sign of an insanity waiting for the opportunity to take over, cloud the mind, and destroy the spirit. If that happens, some part of you or someone you know is about to shut down. It must shut down in order for you to survive. If, on the other hand, you recognize these symptoms in yourself or someone you know, here is a piece of advice: "Remain open. There is something bigger than you know going on here."

In writing this book, it is my hope to offer support and guidance to those who are temporarily insane. I've been there, and I know it really is only temporary. Life may sometimes seem to burden us with more than we can or want to bear. It's not that we cannot handle it. It is usually that we do not know how to handle it. Those who are wise enough or courageous enough to pick up this book before insanity sets in will be equipped to meet the tasks that lie ahead. Those who never want to be insane again may also benefit from this therapeutic approach. No matter which category you fall in, I want to share with you the things I found to be most effective in helping me to remain open and grounded in the knowledge of who I really am when life experiences threaten to make me forget.

Forty days and forty nights spent honoring the things that really matter in life is only the first step toward personal growth and spiritual strength. If you are anything like me when I was insane, it could take you six months to complete the forty-day process. That's okay! You will do as much as you need to do, when you need it. If too much light, too much truth comes in at once, you can become spiritually blind. The good news is that when you need this book, you will have it. Gaining a working knowledge of forty spiritual principles will give you a totally new perception of yourself and life. Don't be like me when I was insane. Don't try to figure it out! New thoughts, new feelings may not show up instantly. The moment you realize that the old ways of thinking and feeling do not work for you, the process of this book will be something new for you to try. Forty days and nights may not seem like a lot; that is probably because most insane people think the more complicated a thing is, the better a thing is. That is simply not true. Forty is a mystical number. It has the power to cure insanity.

If you are willing to admit that you are or have been insane as described here and would like some help, I welcome you. If you are willing to say that it has never happened to you, but that you know people you would like to help by gaining a grasp of the information presented here, I welcome you. If you have received this book as a gift and cannot figure out why, take a hint! You are welcome here. We are about to embark upon a journey to a place where insanity will reign no more. It is a place where everything you thought you needed and wanted will fade away. It is in this place that you will find things you did not know that you had or needed. We, my dear friends, are about to enter your soul.

For some, the journey will be a quick and enjoyable one. Revelations will come. Understanding will flow. On the forty-first day you will have something to share with friends, family, and loved ones. For others, this journey will be frightening and rocky, and at times you will be convinced it is unnecessary for you to continue. You will be tempted to abort the journey. You will forget to do one assignment or another. You will convince yourself that you are not getting anything out of it. Someone may even steal your book the day before payday when you believe you cannot afford to buy another one. On that very day, something wonderful will happen to you. You will be convinced that life has really turned in your favor. On that same day, your joy will be ripped from beneath your feet and you will have forgotten to replace this book. Here again is that motto of support and encouragement for you: "Remain open. There is something bigger than you know going on here."

Copyright © 1998 by Iyanla Vanzant

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