The Experience: Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life with Iyanla Vanzant

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An Afternoon with Iyanla Vanzant

On Sunday, July 29th I got the chance to spend four hours in the presence of six-time New York Times best-selling author and spiritual life coach Iyanla Vanzant. It honestly didn’t feel like four hours. Iyanla was funny, transparent, authentic, engaging and nurturing as she shared her life story.

The first book I ever read by Iyanla was “In the Meantime: Finding Yourself and The Love You Want” back in college. However, the book that forever altered my perception was “Peace from Broken Pieces” published in 2012.  I still have it on my shelf as a reference book. I loved how relatable her story was.

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I felt very connected to her story. Beyond that, I remember feeling a wide range of emotions with each turn of the page.  I experienced sorrow, disappointment, anger, happiness, and inspiration as she described her experiences in life and love.  I am an avid reader but this was the first time I had a real-life example of someone trying to find inner peace in the midst of a chaos. Many people can explain their pain but few provide examples of their journey into inner peace. This book was published at a time when I was experiencing my own loss in love. I was discovering my own pathologies, working through family issues and learning how to forgive. This book gave me the courage to find deeper meaning in my own pain and to face my challenges so that I could move forward. It was a source of light when I was in a dark space. It took me less than a week to read.  I walked away feeling inspired and motivated to create change in my own life. This book will forever be a guidepost in my healing and transformation journey.

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When I learned that Iyanla was coming to Atlanta I knew I had to be there. I walked in prepared with pen and paper in hand. I knew I would walk away with more than a few gems of wisdom and I was not disappointed. Iyanla was also very transparent about her own life experience including a health scare she had over a year ago. She explained how she had to get clear about what she allowed into her life. Her main points centered around having dominion over your life by changing the context and content of your thoughts. She explained how focused thoughts become tools for creation. She also explained how attaching an emotion and raising your energy fuel your thoughts. We went through an exercise where you were asked to write what you want. We had quiet time to reflect and write.

I meditate often so quieting the mind to reflect was familiar territory for me.

I wrote four words love, freedom, happiness and peace.

I gazed around as others wrote out their thoughts. After the time was up, she explained why having more than ten words written was how we attempt to intellectualizing our spirituality. She explained how often our minds are filled with so many thoughts that it’s hard to figure out what we really want. Through this exercise, the audience could capture a real-life example of how the mind works when we don’t slow down to breathe.  She explained how false thoughts cause pain. She also gave the audience a simple practice to use at home. She advised that each morning we check to see if we are alive, smile and be thankful.  She explained how this will set the tone and intention for your day. She also suggested that we describe what we want in one word.  Then three minutes, three times a day for three weeks we repeat that one word and see how life will respond to our new thoughts.

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She spent the last hour answering audience questions.  While she was loving, in her response she was also very clear in the need for each person to take responsibility for what is occurring in our lives. She explained how we invited the experience by either not ending it or by needing to learn the lesson associated with the experience. I walked away feeling inspired and ready to take a closer look at my own life.  It was an amazing experience. If you have not been to see her in person I would suggest you put it on your radar.

Feature Photo Credit: http://iyanla.co/

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