Title: Spiritual Rebel: A Positively Addictive Guide to Finding Deeper Perspective & Higher Purpose
Author: Sarah Bowen
Genre: Spirituality/Self Help
Bringing together insights from a wide range of traditions Spiritual Rebel: A Positively Addictive Guide to Finding Deeper Perspective & Higher Purpose encourages readers to explore their deepest perspectives and life calling.
A preacher’s kid originally inspired by the Force of Star Wars, author Sarah Bowen divulges juicy tidbits from her own journey, including challenges with her birth religion, descent into addiction, and recovery into a life where everything can be sacred―including the wisdom of Yoda, meditating with her cat, and crashing spiritual spaces.
Mining the world’s philosophical, scientific, and religious traditions, Spiritual Rebel draws from spiritual masters and pop cultural inspirations to offer a three-week program designed to create spiritual moments throughout the day, inviting healthful and heartful connections to self and others.
The diverse collection of practices and resources is an indispensable guide that will inspire the Force within you, by whatever name you call it.
It started with the F-word. Not the highly charged four-letter f*uck. Not the saintly five-letter faith. It started with the Force. Because in the beginning there was the word. Or, in my case, the words.
They appeared as gigantic yellow characters in all caps, rolling up a darkened movie theater screen. A wise sage named Obi-Wan Kenobi vividly described mystical energy called the Force. My life was forever changed.
Afterward, my imaginative friends and I met daily to act out stories about the Force. With an unbridled spirit, we dubbed ourselves honorary members of the Rebel Alliance, standing bravely against any injustice or evil in our suburban neighborhood. Our families all had different religious beliefs and rituals, but there was one thing we kids could all agree on: the awesome power of the Force.
Brushing off parental criticism that we were embracing violence with our lightsaber battles, we banded together as Jedis for the breathtaking destruction of the Death Star. Through our play, we learned about personal responsibility and the difficulty of making moral decisions. Through Star Wars, we were discovering what our religious institutions were trying to teach us. But instead of being told precisely what to believe, we were encouraged to let belief awaken. And for some of us, that awakening became a tiny piece of our spiritual DNA.
And then I lost it.
I blame puberty. As I worried incessantly about my looks and what other people thought about me, the strong, confident child inside me turned into a nervous gangly girl who felt ugly, poor, and not good enough. Unable to connect my church’s lessons with anything relevant to my life, I began to harbor a deep, dark secret that I could not share: I did not believe. As a preacher’s kid, this was quite a liability.
Eventually, my secret attracted friends. Their names were Guilt and Depression. Soon, they found a leader. Her name was Addiction. Slyly, I hid them all behind studded black leather, blue hair, and absurd amounts of black eyeliner. Increasingly, my weekends were rife with the proverbial sex, drugs, and rock ’n roll. Graduating from college to pursue a life in New York City was the final nail in the coffin. Consequently, I became a very successful workaholic, seeking sanity through money. Stockpiling stuff and success, everything appeared to be going as planned. Yet I was drowning in addiction, and a fathomless void was growing inside.
Eventually, I decided life had become unmanageable. Narrowly escaping a lightspeed crash fueled by illness, stress, addiction, and overwork, I reached back to a belief in the Force to recover my hope.
Somehow I found myself enrolled in what I coyly refer to as Serenity School. Of course, it’s not called Serenity School by the people who founded it. Instead, it’s described as an interfaith seminary. But when I say the word seminary to people, they often roll their eyes and get a glazed-over look. Suddenly, they’re playing videos in their head of everything they hate about religion, and inserting me into scenes. Let me assure you that I did not go to a school like that.
Instead, I spent time in a community of wildly diverse students from innumerable paths: from an If a priestess who did amazing blessings over water, to an Orthodox Jewish woman who refrained from holding the microphone on Saturdays (and requested the song “Jesus Freak” for our graduation party). There were more than a few Christians. And to my delight, I also met Pagans, Wiccans, Humanists, agnostics, and more than one atheist. In the classroom I uncovered a boatload of other recovering addicts as well as a handful of massage therapists, lightworkers, talented intuitives, and yoga teachers. My academic advisor was a Sufi. It would be an understatement to say it blew my mind.
In the One Spirit Interfaith Seminary program, founder Diane Berke and the diverse staff gently encouraged me to embrace all religious paths as valid and worthy of exploration. Instead of subscribing to any specific dogma or creed, we were asked simply to agree to a community code of ethics.
Together, my class spent month after month learning each other’s spiritual traditions as well as some new ones I had never heard of. Digging in, I began to jettison some of the bullshit I had clung to about religion. First, I realized it was okay to question what I had been taught: A spiritual path is about asking questions, not seeking certainty through answers. Next, I embraced the meditative, contemplative, and mystical experiences that are at the heart of what we call interspirituality. Describing a spiritual perspective rather than a specific path, interspirituality recognizes that beneath theological beliefs and rituals there is a deeper, shared unity of experience underlying them all: the common values of peace, compassionate service, and love for all of creation.
Uncovering wisdom in each new sacred text, I glimpsed the archetypes behind my childhood heroes. Soon my bookshelves overflowed with cosmic and earthly words: Yogananda and Zukav were now placed after Yoda. In every activity, I looked for a sacred angle.
So now, I offer you my services as an interspiritual tour guide. This book is not an instruction manual with perfect directions to enlightenment. It does not suggest adherence to any specific belief system. Nor is it a scholarly treatise on the optimal way to reach Nirvana. You will never hear me claim that one belief system is better than another, or that any practice is more sacred than any other.
Instead, Spiritual Rebel is a field guide for exploring your spirituality. Through its pages, you will be invited to clarify the beliefs that are personally meaningful to you and to redefine outdated concepts to which you might be clinging. You’ll also have the opportunity to explore creative mix-and-match practices, along with some new ways to experience connection. Above all else, you’ll be encouraged to express your unique style of spiritual freedom.
What makes this book a must-read and/or what inspired you to write this story:
Many of us have hidden our spiritual rebelliousness at one point or another: We’re careful about where we speak about spirituality. Apostate. Heretic. Dissident. Divergent. Rabble Rouser. Inciter. Instigator. Troublemaker. Some of us have heard those words, and not in the kindest tones. Others have been pummeled with the word Unbeliever. More than a few of us have experienced the pain of being pushed out of a community they once felt loved by when the edges of their beliefs started to expand. As a result, we can be cautious about belief statements or creeds, preferring a do- it-yourself attitude towards our spirituality.
And so many of us become spiritual rebels. Operating outside traditional religious institutions, we still have something in common with how religions originally evolved: the search for meaning with the support of a community. For many of us, that search is sparked after doing self-work and self-care. Not surprisingly, the wellness market is growing in leaps and bounds. According to the Global Wellness Institute, the world now spends $3.7 trillion a year. From wellness tourism and spa visits, to healthy eating, fitness, and weight loss, we collectively spend oodles of money. On ourselves.
After we commit to our own wellness, deepening our perspective can lead to impactful choices that ripple out beyond our individual lives. Because if I constrain my spirituality to being about me, I rob us all of the richness we can experience when united for a higher purpose. Wellness means I am okay. Spirituality leads to We are okay.
This is not a guilt trip. We need both. And we need each other. So come, all you who are spiritual-but-not-religious, solidly secular, spiritual innovators, heathens, spiritually woke, religion resisters, spiritual-but-not-affiliated, pagans, agnostics, 12-steppers, comfortably communitied, and diversely devout. You belong.
Whether you were raised atheist, rejected the religion of your birth, fell deeply in love with the spiritual path of your neighbor, or reframed and reclaimed the sacred through new perspectives, we have a place for you, too. Because if you resist being pigeon-holed, limited, or even defined, you are indeed spiritually rebellious.
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Runs September 1 – 30
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Recipient of Nautilus and other book awards, Sarah Bowen is multifaith spiritual educator, inspired speaker, and aspiring Jedi. A graduate of New York City's One Spirit Interfaith Seminary, (Rev) Sarah is passionate about the study of the world's great faith traditions as well as travel to quirky, spiritually charged locations. As a member of One Spirit’s academic staff, Spiritual Directors International, and several recovery communities, Sarah seeks to help others connect with the higher power of their own understanding, in whatever way is meaningful. Especially interested in the intersection of spiritual values with animal welfare, Sarah is a fierce advocate for all creatures and currently serves as an animal chaplain.
Sarah splits her time between New York City’s Hell’s Kitchen and the Hudson Valley, where she lives with her artist husband Sean Bowen, two rebellious black cats named Deacon and Buba-ji, Picasso the rescued goldfish, Max the squirrel, and a backyard full of yet-to-be-named critters.
Social Media Links:
Book Website https://www.spiritual-rebel.com/
Author Website http://www.thisissarahbowen.com/