Maybe you’ve seen her on OWN’s SuperSoul Sunday or perhaps you’ve read her New York Times bestselling book, The Universe Has Your Back? If not, meet Gabrielle “Gabby” Bernstein, a next-generation thought leader. Her practical prescription for happiness that’s resonating with Millennials and beyond is inspired by a mixture of the groundbreaking 1976 book, A Course in Miracles, by Helen Schucman, as well as the tenants and techniques found in Transcendental Meditation, 12-step recovery programs, kundalini yoga, and life itself. With more than 600,000 followers on Twitter, over 400,000 on Instagram, and 500,000 on Facebook, bliss seekers are signing up for a dose of Gabby every day. In her various roles as a certified kundalini yoga instructor, motivational speaker, coach, and author, Gabby’s goal is to “help others release the blocks that stand between them and their inner joy.”
Good Health Lifestyles: What event, experience, or influence in your life first led you on a path to mind and body health and wellness?
Gabrielle Bernstein: There were many events, dating back to childhood. My mother brought me as a child to visit ashrams and to experience her gurus and her spiritual faith. In my high school years, when I was 16, I was going through a depression and my mother taught me how to meditate. Through my mom’s meditation practice and the mantra that she taught me, I began listening to an inner voice that I hadn’t been able to hear with all the [emotional] blocks I had built up against it.
GHL: At what point did you also begin to care about the food you put in your body?
GB: I’ve been caring about what I eat for at least the past five years, when I quit consuming sugar to get my health back on track. Since then, I’ve cleaned up my diet even more. Eating well has become a big part of my daily commitment to myself. Eating unconsciously or eating things that didn’t make me feel good started to feel like a lack of self worth in some ways. I started to realize the greatest gift I could give myself was to nourish myself in any way possible—and obviously, food is a great way to do that! It doesn’t hurt that I like to cook too.
GHL: What led you to give up sugar?
GB: I was working with a naturopath who found that I was dealing with a candida overgrowth within my body. One of the main things you have to do to heal candida is to give up sugar. I got off sugar, yeast, and anything else that was feeding the condition, which was really the catalyst. And then I just stayed off it. Prior to getting off sugar, I was sick all the time. My immune system was really weak. I was getting violently ill multiple times a month. Since clearing out the sugar, healing parasites, and cleaning up my system, I don’t get sick anymore, which has really been a blessing.
GHL: What’s your favorite healthy indulgence now?
GB: Right now my favorite healthy indulgence—and I know this sounds lame—is sparkling water. I’m currently on a no-sugar and almost no-carbohydrate diet (except for squash). It’s not for vanity, but is a cleanse/healing diet that is keto/Paleo driven. I have sparkling water with vanilla stevia in it. It actually tastes like vanilla soda. It is the most delicious thing ever!
GHL: How do you ensure healthy, restorative sleep?
GB: I eat dinner very early—5:30 or 6:00 p.m.—which helps me sleep much better. When I eat late, I don’t sleep well. I often write in my journal to do a brain dump and get ideas out of my head that can keep me awake. And I pray before I go to sleep.
GHL: How does spending time outside in nature affect your well-being?
GB: It helps my sense of well-being a lot! I’ve definitely healed myself by being closer to nature. I walk outside often. It’s a big part of not only my physical activity but also my spiritual path.
GHL: Can you tell me a little about your physical exercise routine?
GB: As I said, walking outside is a big one. I also do Pilates. And I’ve been known to find my way to an exercise class from time to time depending on what it may be. Usually exercise is much more about slow and easy movements, for example scrunching and elongating.
GHL: What role has kundalini yoga played in your overall personal and professional path?
GB: Kundalini yoga came to me at a time when I was feeling really stuck. I was invited to this yoga/meditation dinner. At the time I wasn’t that into yoga, but I was into dinner! I showed up and it was a kundalini yoga class led by Gurmukh Khalsa, one of the leading kundalini teachers in the world today. I walked in and started practicing this crazy yoga—and in the middle of the class, I thought, ‘Wow, this is MY yoga.’ Within a month of being a student of kundalini, I felt that I needed to teach. So I signed up for the teacher training, went through the 200-hour training, and have been able to share it ever since.
GHL: Can you briefly describe what it means to surrender—which is the major concept from your book The Universe Has Your Back?
GB: When I speak of surrender, I’m talking about turning over your agenda and relying on the higher power of your own understanding. For me, surrender comes when I have made a decision to get out of the way and stop praying for what I thought I needed or for a specific outcome. Instead, I pray for the highest good for all.
GHL: A few years ago, you co-led the world’s largest group meditation with Deepak Chopra. On a more personal level, what does a typical meditation session look like for you?
GB: I meditate at least twice a day for a minimum of 20 minutes. And I typically use a mantra-based meditation, but sometimes I listen to music depending on how I’m feeling. If I want to go into a deep meditative state, I will often listen to kundalini music. The core of my meditation practice is Transcendental Meditation (TM), which is mantra-based.
GHL: When you find yourself off center, how do you get back on track? I believe you call it re-aligning.
GB: There are many, many ways. One way is to jump on the trampoline and repeat affirmations while I’m working out. It sounds kind of rudimentary, but voicing affirmations of how I want to feel combined with the movement is a very powerful experience. I will also often use Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), also known as tapping, as a way out of negativity. It’s a technique I discuss in my new book Judgment Detox.
GHL: What inspired you to write Judgment Detox?
GB: In one of the chapters of my book The Universe Has Your Back, I write about how “oneness” sets you free. While working on that chapter, I began writing out steps that allow us to release our judgments. I felt really called at the end of that chapter to keep working on the concept, and that resulted in writing Judgment Detox.
GHL: How destructive are our judgments? What is the very first step to loosening their grip?
GB: Judgment is very destructive. It takes us out of alignment. When we are in a place of judgment, we are in a system of separation and lack—a “less than/better than” comparison. It’s a disconnect from the oneness that really is the truth of who we are. So through the Judgment Detox, I’ve led readers to release the fear-based beliefs that have put them into the judgment cycle. We get into what I call the judgment cycle when we feel as though we need to project out on to others what we don’t want to feel within. Whenever we are judging someone else, it is really just a disowned part of our own self. If we feel good, why would we judge?
GHL: Is there one simple thing we can do to get out of the judgment cycle?
GB: The first step is to just witness your judgment without judgment. Wherever we shine light, we begin to bring it out of the darkness. If you are willing to look at your own judgment, it begins the pattern of healing it.
Gabby’s Sugar-Free Tahini Fudge
Try this quick and easy crave-worthy treat whenever the Sugar Demons strike!
- 1 tbsp. ghee
- 2 tbsp. coconut oil
- 3 tbsp. tahini
- 2 droppers vanilla-flavored stevia
- 1/16 tsp. salt
- Cinnamon, to taste
- In a small saucepan, melt the ghee and coconut oil over medium heat.
- Add remaining ingredients and mix well.
- Pour into a freezer-proof container and freeze for 10 minutes.
- Try not to get addicted!