What's Her Secret: Gabrielle Bernstein

As she releases her latest book, the acclaimed life coach talks miracles, personal power, forgiveness, and more. And guess what? She practices what she preaches.

(Source: Gabrielle Bernstein; Art by Tanya Leigh Washington)

Since her books Spirit Junkie and May Cause Miracles wowed and changed the lives of 20- and 30-somethings throughout the world, Gabrielle Bernstein has made waves as a motivational speaker, life coach, and author. Her new tome, Miracles Now: 108 Life-Changing Tools for Less Stress, More Flow, and Finding Your True Purpose, provides specific teachings that are easy to apply to our lives. In fact, she uses them all herself! We chatted with her about miracles, affirmations, forgiveness, and her new no-sugar regime.

What does wellness mean to you, and what are some of the things you do to keep yourself feeling well on a daily basis?  "Wellness to me means balance. It means living with a high intention of feeling good and feeling a sense of balance in your life. I think that's how I would describe the word and the concept. For me, I have to meditate every day, I have to move, in some way, physically. I don't actually work out for very long periods of time, but I move every day, whether it's doing some push-ups, or leg lifts, or walking around the block, but moving in some way. And there are certain things that I don't do. I don't eat sugar. I've been off sugar for six months. I don't drink, I don't eat white flour. And then I pray every day. I forgive myself every day...those are the things that are non-negotiable for me."

How is the no-sugar thing going? Is it hard? "If you want to do it and you're ready for it, then it's not that hard. If you don't want it, then it's kind of difficult. You have to want it. I didn't drink anyway, I haven't had a drink in nine years, so that wasn't the issue, I had already let that go."

Do you eat fruits and natural sugars? "I only eat apples and berries. I don't eat dairy but I eat meat. I'm on the candida diet. So I can't have anything fermented."

Did you have a moment in your life where you realized you had to make a big change?
"Yes. I got sober when I was 25. And I think of me, being sober, was that turning point for me—I was just looking at my life and seeing I was just stuck in addiction and in a bad place with my patterns and I had to find a better way."

What's Her Secret: Gabrielle Bernstein

Since then it seems the rest of your life has reflected that truth, and you found a way to share this wisdom and tools. I imagine that brings you tremendous satisfaction. "Definitely. It's a blessing to be able to teach this stuff because not only does it serve others, it serves me, because it keeps me committed, and walking my talk."

Have you always been a "walk the talk" person? "Definitely. If I'm not walking the walk then I physically can't. It doesn't feel right in my body. And by no means am I perfect as far as what I preach, but I'm mindful of it all the time."

Your new book is called Miracles Now. What is a miracle? "It's when we shift our perception. When we change our minds and let go and let ourselves see things differently." 

I like how useful that sounds. These days, with so many spiritual buzzwords floating around, it's easy to get caught up in the lingo but not have useful tools on how to empower yourself and change your life. "Yeah, that's why I think this new book is really helpful. It's not just telling people to talk the talk, but it's telling them walk the walk. So, there are these really easy-to-do exercises that you kind of have no excuse but to just do. If you are saying you don't have time, that excuse no longer exists because these are meant to be done in a minute, and they're meant to have a very immediate effect."

Cool. Another interesting idea is personal power, and how some of us feel we've been conditioned to minimize it. It's become socially acceptable to dim your light with the misguided notion that it helps others feel better about themselves. "Yeah, that's the opposite message of the new book. The message of the new book is, 'The more you shine, the more you give others permission to do the same.' You remind them that that is who they are, too."

I love that. Any ideas why some of us have gotten to that opposite place? "I think that fear is really an epidemic in our culture, and it's become a comfort zone for everyone, and that belief system becomes our reality because whatever we repeat becomes real. With the repetition of fear in our lives every day, that becomes the story we tell and the experience that we have."

Any thoughts to share about how to deal with that fear in a more useful and positive way? "Yeah, there's a lesson [in the book] called 'Peace Begins With Me,' it's an easy one for those moments where you recognize that fear is setting in, you can use that affirmation and a 'Mudra,' almost like a mantra—where you press your ring, middle, pinky, and pointer finger to your thumb—and you say 'peace begins with me,' and you just repeat that over and over."

What's Her Secret: Gabrielle Bernstein

Are affirmations tools you've always used in your own growth? "Yes. Always. Words carry power, so the words that we use are going to infuse our life experiences. There's energy in words. So if we start to choose more mindful words, we can elevate ourselves much more easily, whereas if we're using negative words all the time, we're going to be bringing ourselves down."

Earlier you mentioned forgiving ourselves, and I feel the words we tell ourselves can have a lot to do with that. Like, are we giving ourselves positive or negative messages? "Yes. You can use an affirmation like 'I forgive myself, I release myself.' That simple one can be very, very powerful."

How did you first embark on this path? When did you first realize your calling? "Very quickly, right when I first started my practice, as soon as I got sober, I realized it was meant for me to share what I was learning and share what I was studying, and I became a very dedicated student and very quickly started to get the call to be a teacher."

Do people share with you tangible results of feeling more joy, more connected, more simple? "Yes, absolutely. If they apply the principles. If they don't do the work, they won't have these benefits. But if they apply the principles they'll see the benefits, immediately."

What do you love most about your work? "I think what I love most about it is seeing people transform and seeing people change their perceptions—I find that exciting. The first lesson of the book is, 'Happiness Is a Choice I Make,' so it's really about taking responsibility for your happiness. And committing to seeing things differently, and that intention itself can really put you on a path that's much greater."

Check out Bernstein's social networking site HerFuture.com for women "to inspire, empower and connect."