I’m a psychologist, and have lived and breathed that interest since I was a teenager. I’m a big proponent that the unconscious is in charge of our behaviors and reactions in the world and that our unconscious can greatly interfere with us getting what we say we want. This is the work of therapy — and gaining awareness — so that we can be in charge of ourselves.
I’m also a big believer in the spiritual world, that there is something bigger than us — an energy, if you will — operating at all times. For some, what I call energy, they call God. It’s the same principle, no matter what faith you embody. I credit this ‘energy’ for bringing us opportunities, and lessons, but we may miss them because of lack of awareness. In this way, our personalities can sometimes unconsciously sabotage us.
In my practice, once we have established enough of a connection and understanding of the personality shifts we need to make, I enlist my patients in exploring their spiritual side. For some, it’s solely a matter of getting them to meditate. For others, it goes further. What I’m certain of though is that for those who engage in a combination of therapy and spiritual practice, their lives can really soar in a new way.
I went on a meditation retreat where I got to see and learn from the great Deepak Chopra. It was an incredible experience, and it deepened my belief in the importance of meditation. To my mind it’s clearly the most powerful spiritual tool one can utilize everyday, in her own home. Along with learning the practice of mantra based meditation, one of the most formidable spiritual learnings was his seven laws of spiritual success, which Chopra writes about in his book of the same name. In this book, he discusses a way of life that I believe to be integral to our psychological and emotional growth.
Each law is practiced on one day of the week so we can focus on that specific practice for the day, bettering the chance of truly integrating these principles into our lives every day without even thinking about it. Every law comes with practical steps that will help us do this. I’m going to give you the information as it was imparted to me by Deepak Chopra as well as another speaker at the conference, David Ji. I’ll also add my own twist at times to make it more relatable. I hope you join me.
This law says that there are infinite possibilities in the universe for our lives. We can create anything we want for ourselves; we just have to believe and give ourselves a chance to tap into this energy. The best way to do this is through stillness and meditation. Although the meditation should be happening every day, use Sundays to be a little more silent and still in addition to meditating. Pay attention to the beauty of this.
Also, attempt to commune with nature. Of course, it’s best if you can be at the beach or on a hike, but do what you can. Take a walk, smell a flower, pet your cat or dog. If it’s cold or raining, take a moment to at least look out the window and notice nature.
And finally, the day you practice this law is a day of no judgment! I know this can be hard, so first, start to notice how much you do judge (yourself, and others), from the smallest to the biggest of things. This awareness will help you to begin to curb your judgment.
This law is about flow, movement, and circulation. Some people constantly give, and never have their needs met. Others always take, never really considering those around them. Most of us are too caught in how the world is affecting us in the moment and not recognizing we are attached to and impacting all of those around us, all the time.
I want you to focus on this idea of flow, and give and take. An example of giving and receiving at the same time would be kissing or hugging someone. But we’re obviously not going to kiss and hug everyone we come into contact with! However, we can give a smile, or lend an ear, or help out with a favor. And we must let people give to us—no more allowing ourselves to feel undeserving. Try to accept a compliment without saying something negative about yourself, allow yourself to receive help, and accept gifts and gestures that come your way.
And silently, all day, wish everyone you come into contact with health, happiness, and joy.
This law states that for every action, there is a reaction. What this means is that the choices we make each moment are helping to create our lives—from the smaller choices such as what we’re eating for breakfast, to the larger ones such as what jobs we take or who we marry. The problem is, we’re mostly making these choices unconsciously. And then we find ourselves in the same bad spots over and over again. The goal here is to witness our choices. And before we make any, from the smallest to the biggest, we will sit silently, focus on our heart, and ask these two questions: Will this choice nourish me (my mind, body, and spirit)? Will it nourish those around me?
Practicing meditation will help you gain this clarity. Listen to your body. It’s an antenna for feeling your way towards your happiness. If you feel discomfort, you’re headed in the wrong direction for yourself.
This law looks to nature and how it functions with effortless ease. Flowers don’t try to grow; they just grow. Fish don’t try to swim; they just swim. Make the day you practice this law the day you stop trying to control the universe, because you can’t control it. Stop trying to shove that square peg into a round whole. Accept that you can’t control anything except how you behave.
The actions for this day:
Accept that each moment is exactly as it should be. Know that every moment you’ve ever had has led you to the moment you are in right now.
Take responsibility for where you are. Don’t blame others. Don’t even blame yourself for anything you’ve done in the past. It was all necessary to get you here.
Practice defenselessness. On Wednesdays, don’t defend yourself or impose your point of view on anyone. Do not utter the words, “I’m right.”
These actions will allow your life to unfold just as it should.
This law is where we figure out what we really and truly desire for ourselves, planting the seeds for what we want our lives to look like.
In order to start this process, make a list of all of your desires. Bring your attention to them a few times a day, and then release them. Don’t worry about the outcomes or the how-to’s…just let go.
This is where we gain great clarity into what we really want. I'm not saying that all we have to do is desire, sit back, and then wait for our dreams to come true. What we do have to do is take steps towards our goals, and be comfortable in not knowing exactly when, where, or how they will ultimately come to fruition.
This law asks us to surrender to uncertainty - to learn to be okay with not knowing. This is a day of release from the need to control the outcome of our intentions, desires, goals, and visions. Here, we'll learn to go with the flow of life, and trust in perfect timing, even if it’s not the timing we'd hoped for.
In essence, put your best foot forward, do what you can to reach goals, take risks, get out of your own way, and then just let go. As long as we're not the ones sabotaging ourselves from getting the things we want in life, this is all we can do. We cannot control the rest. Trust that the rest will happen as it should, when it should. And if it doesn’t, it’s okay. We cannot define who we are by the outcome or rely on this “external thing” for our happiness. By living this way, we are giving ourselves the gift of emotional freedom.
This law says that every living thing has a purpose. And every human being on this planet has a unique gift. You (and I) do one thing so perfectly and uniquely that no one else can replicate it. When you identify what that gift is, you have found your purpose! And connecting to your purpose is the most fulfilling thing you can do.
The first part of finding your purpose is asking yourself the following question: "What do I do that feels so right that time stands still while I'm doing it?" The answer to this question is your gift! The second part of finding your purpose is discovering a way to use this gift to help others.
Please know that your purpose does not have to be your job. It can be something you do as a hobby, and if it eventually becomes your career as well – great. If not, that's okay, too. This is a process that takes time and patience. Self-awareness and meditation are great tools that will help you to gain clarity while going through it.
Dr. Debbie Magids is a counseling psychologist with a thriving private practice in New York City. In recent years, Dr. Debbie’s philosophies and focus have shifted from traditional therapy practices to meet the varied needs of her clients – entrepreneurs, finance executives, creative professionals -- in our increasingly fast-paced, highly connected society. She is also an entrepreneur, consultant, and corporate speaker.
The daughter of Holocaust survivors, Dr. Debbie’s doctoral dissertation explored the effects of the Holocaust on survivors’ children. “Personality Comparison Between Children of Hidden Holocaust Survivors and American Jewish Parents” was published in the Journal of Psychology.
She lives each day with a deep appreciation of the value of human life and a passionate desire to help others — of course her clients, but also those who can’t help themselves, especially animals. Dr. Debbie is a (mostly) vegan who loves live music and practices meditation daily in her beloved hometown of New York City.
Dr. Debbie was previously tenured at Kingsborough Community College in Brooklyn, where she spearheaded the creation of the personal counseling center, which is now the Student Wellness Center and Counseling Services. She was also a professor at Hunter College School of Counseling MSEd program.
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