Mindful Monday: Be The Lighthouse

I hope to make Mondays a time when I can write about what I’m reading, learning and experiencing in regards to spirituality and mindfulness. There’s much to discuss.

For the majority of my life, I didn’t really think much about spirituality. It’s not that I pushed it away, but just was consumed with the day-to-day grind. Last year, when I started feeling physically and emotionally unwell, I picked the book Mind Over Medicine by Lissa Rankin. I really credit that book with starting me on my journey. The book itself wasn’t super spiritual in nature, but it got the ball rolling, so to speak. I was fascinated by the notion that our minds and thoughts could make us physically ill, and I started wondering about our mind and thoughts in general. What are thoughts anyway? (Just thoughts.) And could something as simple as a thought truly change the way we perceive the world around us? (Hell yes.) And if that’s true, could we create the life we want by becoming more aware of our self-limiting thoughts and beliefs and making positive change through affirmations, mindfulness, and awareness? (Yep. But MAN it’s a constant practice.)

At some point, I just opened my heart to the possibilities of the universe. I pretty much declared that I was ready to receive what was out there for me – I was ready and willing to learn and most importantly, do my part to share with others. (Pre-2013 Sarah would be aghast at this woo-woo development.) And, you guys, that’s when things just started unfolding right in front of my eyes. Books, emails, quotes, random conversations…it was like the answers I had been searching for were all falling into my lap. Now, were these things always out there, right in my line of sight? Probably, but my narrow-minded scope of reality wasn’t allowing me to see.

So. I was taking it all in. Reading the books, attending the workshops, meeting with different practitioners in the fields of energy medicine, hypnotherapy, and holistic healing – really not knowing exactly what it would lead to, but just coming from a place of yes and checking it all out. Some of it was just plain over-the-top (um, hello, angelic clairvoyant healing), but most of it was very eye-opening. I was learning new ways of thinking and living that were definitely helping and healing me, but I wasn’t sure if that was supposed to be the end point. How could I help others with this information? Should I blog about it?

This past Saturday, I attended Gabby Bernstein’s Miracles Now book launch in LA. I’m a fan of Gabrielle’s for many reasons, but mainly because she’s a student of A Course in Miracles, and does a great job breaking down the lessons into manageable tools to apply to your daily life. (Have you read A Course? It’s no easy task.) The evening was a Kundalini yoga workshop followed with some Q&A, and she shared lots of advice from her book.

One thing she mentioned was to let the book guide you – when you have a question, just open the book to a random page and let it speak to you. As you can guess, I’m down with this kind of method – staying open to all possibilities. As I mentioned above, I’ve felt a little strange about my role in all of this in regards to this blog. Do I write about what I’ve learned? Will I turn people away? Will you think I’m cuckoo? Maybe. So I thought about all of this, and opened the book. This is what I saw.


Be the lighthouse. That’s it. My role is to be a lighthouse for someone. So, I will be here, hoping to share love and light with you guys, with the hopes of speaking to your heart. Even if it’s one person, I’m so good with that.

I am not the victim. I am the lighthouse.

Since writing about my struggles, I’ve had a lot of people reach out about their personal challenges, and one thing comes up again and again.

“Do/did you ever get a little angry that most of the people around you are just living their life well and any way they please?”

I think anyone who is dealing with pain – whether it be emotional or physical, has asked this question. I know I have – in fact, last fall and winter, when I was really feeling like complete crap, I found myself asking that question over and over. Every afternoon, I would sit in my car in Wito’s school pickup line and watch all the moms congregate and chat. They all looked healthy and happy, and I would feel so angry and upset that I was in so much pain. Why the anxiety and physical discomfort? Why me, God? What did I do to deserve this struggle? Everyone else looks SO HAPPY. It’s not fair. It’s simply not fair.

Wow. SOMEONE was playing the victim card big time. Wowza.

I have two things to say about this.

First off, we are ALL struggling. Most of those moms I watched in the parking lot? They are fighting a battle too. And they might have been looking at me thinking the same thing I thought about them. I know lots of you mentioned that you thought my life was just peachy keen, not knowing that I had been struggling so much. We all struggle. Keep that in mind in your day-to-day interactions.

Secondly, playing the victim, whether outwardly or just in your head, is no way to live. I promise you. Feeling self-pity due to an illness or being wronged or a shitty childhood or a specific trauma DOES NOT SERVE YOU. At all. Not a bit. Holding onto negativity and stewing in resentment is slowly killing you. It’s not helping you at all. It’s not making things better or right or punishing the person or thing that hurt you. You are just hurting yourself. You are. Yes, you are causing your own pain. Right now. Big time.

As Queen Elsa would say, LET IT GO. Let it go, peeps.

Oh, I know what you’re thinking. “Sure, Sarah. I’ll just let decades of resentment release right now. Oh, it’s gone! Look at it floating away! I’m freeeeeeeeee as a biiiirrrrd. I’m totally cool with cancer/being raped/emotional abuse!” *huge eye roll*

It’s not easy. In fact, it might the be the biggest challenge you’ll ever face, but you can change the way you view your circumstances. You are not your thoughts. You are not your thoughts. You are a radiant, energy-filled, intuitive, happy being that is currently being controlled by your negative thoughts. Your bitterness, anxiety, sadness, fear etc…it’s all a loop, circling in your brain, not allowing you to see what’s really in front of you.

What if you make the choice to see things differently? What if you could start to see the separation between your true self and your thoughts? How do you this? Well, you seek out help. Whether it be a doctor or a therapist or a spiritual leader or a book or a friend. You reach out, make a connection, and start your journey.

When I am feeling stuck in fear and victimhood, I address it in several different ways.

1. Practice gratitude. (“Uggggghhhh, I’m so sick of hearing about gratitude.” Hey, I hear you over there.) Do you know why people keep telling you to practice gratitude? Because it works. And it’s cumulative, I promise you. It slowly changes your mental framework over time. Every day, think of what you have. Are you sitting in a structure that is providing you shelter? Pretty cool. Are you reading this on a laptop? Kind of amazing. Is there one person in the world who loves and cares for you? You’ve hit the jackpot. More than one person? You are such a blessed individual. Truly. Be thankful, but most of all, be thankful that you are on this planet. You were given a life. A LIFE. To live. Happily.

2. Practice meditation. (You don’t need to be all buddha on the mountaintop with this. 5-10 minutes a day. Hey, 1 minute is better than nothing.) You know, it’s sad, but most people will never be able to separate their thoughts from true inner self. They will live their entire lives in their head, letting their thoughts run the show. I will address this phenomenon of your “inner roommate” soon (because it’s fascinating to me), but the gist is – if you were to imagine that all of your thoughts were being said to you by an external person, you would think that person was CRAZY. Seriously, you would be running for the hills, screaming. So WHY do you give those thoughts the time of day when they pass through your brain? Why do you engage them and let them take over? Maybe because, I don’t know…it’s always been that way?  Well, it doesn’t have to be. By quieting your mind and being still, you will start to witness your own thoughts, and learn to not engage them and let them pass right through. A thought is just that. A thought. It’s not a fact. It’s not true. I think Headspace is the best way for beginners to start meditating. I wrote about it here.

3. Practice being the lighthouse. Use your circumstances to help others. I feel my happiest when I’m doing something of service. When I receive a comment, email or hug after writing a post like this, it feels me with elation that someone relates to what I’m saying, and that it might helpful. I want to help, and I think we all want to help and love each other. The world needs you to be a lighthouse. Reach out to a friend or a stranger. Spread your love.

4. Practice affirmations. You can counteract all of that negative self-talk with positive affirmations. Tell your brain what’s up. You create your reality. Louise Hay is the master of affirmations, and I highly recommend her books, The Power is Within You and 21 Days to Master Affirmations.

5. Practice opening your mind to new ways of thinking. Read a book. Look at this list. And this one. Don’t think too much, just pick a book, and go with it. It might be exactly what you need. It’s funny how the universe just works that way sometimes.

6. Practice kindness to others AND yourself. This is a lifelong journey we’re on – learning the entire way. We all make mistakes, and sometimes our mistakes are our greatest teachers. I still berate myself over my shortcomings (A common one is “why am I still allowing myself to focus on the fearful thoughts? I know that I am causing my own pain, but I can’t stop, therefore I must be a bad person and not worthy.” RINSE AND REPEAT.), but the truth of the matter is that I am growing and succeeding every day. Just stepping back and noticing my thought patterns is a step in the right direction. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Keep your chin up. Focus on the here and now, and the fact that you are growing as a kinder, wiser, more empathetic person every day.

Most importantly, there is one common thread in all of the above tips. Practice. Practice, practice, practice. Like anything else, you will not see any benefits if you don’t practice regularly. You can’t read a book, nod your head in agreement, and go right back to your old habits. You have to forge forward with your new knowledge and utilize it every day. Trust me, I struggle. We all have bad days. The physical pain thing still gets me all worked up, but when it does, I make the conscious decision to practice one of the above 6 things. You’ve just got to commit.

Make the commitment. This is it, you guys. Make it happen. I’ll be here to support you every step of the way.

  • Gabrielle

    April 21, 2014 at 10:55 am

    I had the great fortune of taking a series of courses and developing friendships in my early 20’s that re-set my victim button (so to speak), taught me that I am not my thoughts, and that I (and no one else) source my life. Absolutely the greatest, most life-changing lessons I’ve ever learned– and continue to learn every damn day. And then there are the days when I forget all of it, feel horrible/depressed/alone/overwhelmed/not good enough (that one’s my favorite!) :). It’s a never-ending journey. Props and love to you on yours.

  • Heather D.

    April 21, 2014 at 11:29 am

    Two words: Thank you!

  • Wendy

    April 21, 2014 at 11:48 am

    Sarah, thank you so much for this! Your posts on this subject really inspire me. I am on the path of finding my true self and learning to guide my thoughts in a positive direction. My main goal is to be HAPPY! It’s true, everything we come across is the universe knocking, we just have to learn to open the door.
    I have 2 boys under 4 and I struggle trying to find the best way to guide them. I’d love to know your thoughts on parenting and how we can use these spiritual tools to help our kids be aware of how powerful they are. I do believe they are way more connected than adults but I really don’t want them to forget their true essence.

    • whoorl

      April 22, 2014 at 1:13 pm

      Ahhhhh, such a great comment, Wendy. I will definitely address this soon. I’m still trying to figure it all out myself, but I have been working on the spiritual guidance I give my kids, and it’s been really rewarding!

  • Meredith

    April 21, 2014 at 12:40 pm

    A million thank you’s for this post. The timing of this post could not be more perfect. I’m going to practice, practice, practice :)

  • Stacey

    April 21, 2014 at 1:01 pm

    The kindness one. I need to constantly remind myself to treat myself like I treat others. I’m really nice to everyone, but not always so kind to myself:)

  • Meagan

    April 21, 2014 at 1:49 pm

    This post really resonated with me. Thank you for being willing to discuss your journey!

  • Angella

    April 21, 2014 at 2:29 pm

    I have a sibling who plays the victim and she’s a miserable person to be around. Yes, we had a pretty shitty childhood at times, but that was thirty years ago. Let it gooooooooo.


  • Lisa

    April 21, 2014 at 3:56 pm

    I really needed to see this today thank you so much for sharing. I’m looking forward to more spiritual posts from you. God bless you and your beautiful family!

    Light and Love, Lisa

  • Susan

    April 21, 2014 at 4:12 pm

    I really loved this post! I am curious, and this probably a silly question, but when you say you opened your heart to the universe and its teachings, did you literally pronounce those words in one single moment or was it just a gradual realization that you had opened your heart? Thanks for any insight! Just trying to start my own process!

    • whoorl

      April 22, 2014 at 1:09 pm

      Hi Susan, that is such a good question and a perfect subject for next Monday’s post because I have a great story about how it happened for me!

  • Emily

    April 21, 2014 at 6:23 pm

    oooh…I’m totally in for Mindful Mondays! I love that you are a lighthouse. I’m beginning to think that’s how it works. Like a network of lighthouses. Seems like everywhere I look–these days, with mindfulness and perspective–I see another light. In the strangest places and in the strangest people. It’s so great.
    Like a secret language we share although we don’t want it to be a secret!

    • whoorl

      April 22, 2014 at 1:14 pm

      Exactly! And I love the term “network of lighthouses” – it’s perfect.

  • natalie

    April 21, 2014 at 8:52 pm

    Thank you for sharing this journey. Amen to #1 – 6. Another practice I have is to reflect (often) upon my own story and identify areas of victory/healing/redemption. It gives me peace and hope in times of uncertainty to see the positive and growth in my own life.
    I’m happy for you, Sarah!

  • Liz

    April 21, 2014 at 9:09 pm

    I’m just loving Whoorl soooo much these days! I’ve read your blog for years but this is the good stuff, and posts like these are what make me check you blog first, before many of my other favorites. You’re doing such great work and I’m so grateful to see other people awakening … It helps me awaken too. Keep it comin!

  • Kate

    April 22, 2014 at 12:17 am


    Thank you so much for this post and sharing your journey on Whoorl! It’s amazing what we see when we are open to receiving. I revisited your blog a few weeks ago to find a reading list you posted and it was just what I needed. Thanks to that inspiration, I am practicing choosing love every day. Keep the Mindful Mondays coming!

    • whoorl

      April 22, 2014 at 1:07 pm

      Being open and paying attention to what the universe is putting in front of us is the biggest step! xo

  • tanja

    April 22, 2014 at 4:51 am

    Love this post. thanks for the inspiration. just wanted I needed to read.

  • Brooke

    April 22, 2014 at 7:28 am


  • Eileen

    April 22, 2014 at 8:05 am

    I really enjoy your blog and liked this post a lot. I started reading your blog because of the mindfulness posts and I thank you for sharing this part of yourself.

  • Sarah

    April 22, 2014 at 11:32 am

    My “whoa” moment of the week came directly from this post.

    The idea of “being a lighthouse” has struck a chord in me and since reading that here, I’ve seen examples of others doing just that. I think “perceptive vigilance,” is the phrase for it – it could be something simple like, how you notice how EVERYONE is driving a particular model of car right after you purchase one, or how you notice all of the pregnant ladies after finding out you’re also pregnant. What I’ve noticed, in just a week’s time, is how people all around me are overcoming some serious, scary, heavy situations.

    It makes me believe that maybe I can be the same, for others, and that feeling is so much better than worrying about things out of my control or having a Full On Pity Fiesta For One. (It’s not just a pity party. I FIESTA that shit.)

    Anyway…I’m glad to read your thoughts on mindfulness and such things. Thank you! xo

    • whoorl

      April 22, 2014 at 1:06 pm

      Hahaaa, pity fiesta. I am quite familiar with those. ;)

  • Ellen

    April 22, 2014 at 12:03 pm

    Sarah, we are and have been on the same path for the last year. Minus the Lyme. So sorry about that, Lyme is no joke. So this awakening that you’re having is timely and honest to God good stuff.

    A month ago I graduated from my 200-hour yoga teacher training. Best.thing.I.ever.did. Aside from birthing my two children of course. One of the things a teacher said to us once, as we were about to embark on our first guided meditation was this: who would you be without our story? That one hit me like a cartoon anvil careening from the sky. You have to commit to it, this practice. Being mindful. But it’s rewarding on so many levels.

    A week ago, one of my new clients – she’s 90, folks. I repeat, 90! – who is taking private instruction with me said, “You have helped me so much. I’m sleeping better. I’m feeling better, more positive. I love yoga so much. So thank you for bringing it to me.”

    Lighthouse moment. Pretty awesome.

    I’m enjoying your posts, Sarah. So, so much.

    • whoorl

      April 22, 2014 at 1:05 pm

      Total lighthouse moment! Yes! I love it. (I’ve really been considering yoga training myself, Ellen. Glad to hear it was so wonderful for you.)

  • Estelle

    April 22, 2014 at 12:24 pm

    I am really loving and appreciating all of these posts. So much of what you are sharing is mirroring my own personal journey and it helps to hear another perspective. We’re all in this together!

  • whoorl

    April 22, 2014 at 1:15 pm

    I am just loving all of these comments, you all. Thank you for making my heart sing!

  • Layla

    April 22, 2014 at 3:42 pm

    I think it’s so awesome and brave to introduce a deeper conscious point of view to all of you readers. Yes! It is possible to love fashion, beauty, interiors and your deep, inner self :) I think it’s crazy that our generation isn’t more vastly involved with how our thoughts affect our daily lives. I applaud your courage and think you will be an inspiration to a lot of people. Thanks for keeping it real. XO

  • Jessica

    April 22, 2014 at 4:31 pm

    Yay! I’m so happy for you. And these are my absolute favorite posts to read here. Quick question…I’ve done the Headspace Take 10 (a few times!). I’m wondering if you paid for a subscription? And if so, do you think it’s worth it?

    • whoorl

      April 23, 2014 at 6:02 pm

      Totally worth it!

  • Tara

    April 22, 2014 at 5:18 pm

    Thank you so much Sarah. This is literally EXACTLY what I needed to read, and we are at such similar places I think. So thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

  • Joyce

    April 22, 2014 at 8:26 pm

    “You are not your thoughts”???!!! Word!
    Please pick up Elena Brower’s “Art of Attention”.
    Much love sent your way.

  • Lporterpink

    April 22, 2014 at 11:02 pm

    Thank you for showing us your strength and vulnerabilities. You are truly a Strong Lighthouse and I look forward to Mindful Mondays! Im sure there are many that read your blog that will benefit. I have too been struggling with wellness and staying above water in these fast times. Meditation is something I learned 8 years ago and has enhanced my life; now I need to get back to practicing it on a consistent basis.

    A great children’s book that we love is “Moody Cow Meditates”. It is a fun and practical book that teaches kids how to deal with their thoughts.

    I am so grateful that you are sharing this with us! Love to you.

  • J.Mill

    April 23, 2014 at 7:04 am

    My husband and I are getting neck-deep in holistic health to try and solve some problems without/with fewer pharmaceuticals. I thought this article on The Daily Beast was really interesting and reminds me of some of the talks I’ve seen Lissa Rankin give.


    Thank you so much for sharing this with us. I appreciate knowing that we aren’t all alone and that struggle is universal. We all need to be kinder to ourselves and each other!

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  • Jen

    April 24, 2014 at 1:19 pm

    I love you, Whoorl and I don’t even know you.
    I am the mom of the baby that has Wito thighs.
    I love reading your blog. It’s good stuff.

  • Christy

    April 27, 2014 at 8:18 pm

    Seriously awesome stuff

  • […]   Mindful Mondays series on Whoorl. Sarah James is a beauty blogger with noteworthy amazing hair (she even did a […]

  • Wendy

    May 4, 2014 at 11:30 pm

    The very last slide in your GLO presentation today now makes perfect sense. I’m right there with you! You’re spot on that we’re all going through something, absolutely. For a long, long time I held on to being “the cancer girl” (pity party for one, tons of resentment towards friends and peers who didn’t share my awful experience) and a few years ago I figured out that I could use that experience to help others. Stop the wallowing and give all my knowledge to someone else who needs it. I’ve seen the change in me, I’ve seen the elation in others. You’re doing such great stuff here, Sarah. I’m really looking forward to digging into those links you shared. Thank you!!

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