ONE DAY MY SOUL JUST OPENED UP by Iyanla Vanzant* ($15)

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SS: 0-684-84134-7

Subtitled: 40 Days and 40 Nights Toward Spiritual Strength and Personal Growth.

"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, half-truths, 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 it 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. I 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 bow 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.'" - from the Introduction.

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