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Posts tagged ‘Debbie Ford’

100 Most Spiritually Influential

Every spring Watkins Mind Body Spirit magazine publishes a list of 100 most spiritually influential living people according to specific criteria (below), most notable: living. With this in mind, I don’t see anyone major missing from the list, and sadly, some will be omitted next year, including a personal favorite, Debbie Ford (#86).

The word “influential”, of course, takes on a few perspectives: the message, and the number of people accessing the message. When I read the criteria of the Watkins list, I first thought: who cares about google searches?  Then I re-evaluated: although the number of searches doesn’t define if a message has more value than another, it does represent how much a message is being shared i.e. influential.  Still, I was very surprised that some on the list were positioned where they were, case in point, Louise Hay (#45), who has undoubtedly created the most accessible personal development library on the planet with her radio station, publishing house, marketing division, and education series; a good chunk of the listees gained both their best opportunity and popularity on Louise’s back!  That said, I bet Louise would be the first to remind me, no message is more or less valuable than another if it means something to you right here, right now. Which reminds me to remind you, at different times in our lives we are more receptive to a message or perspective, so I highly encourage you to re-read some of your old favorites to see what new messages you may get from them; and shelf or note the books that seem whatever right now, and revisit them later – chances are that if you picked it up in the first place, there’s a message in there for you when you’re ready
to hear it.

While I would re-order this list based on my personal experience, so would every one of you! Watkins list is very fair based on their criteria. -SL


Watkins’ Spiritual
100 List for 2013

(Issue 33, Spring 2013)
We are delighted to share with you our
2013 list of the 100 Most Spiritually
Influential Living People
This marks the third year that we are publishing our 100 list. We’ve done our best to consider as many people as possible and our spiritual database includes the names of over six hundred candidates from which we selected the list of the top 100, highlighting the most proactive individuals – ranging from political and religious leaders to spiritual writers, filmmakers and visionary artists.

This list is meant to serve as a positive guide to some of the leading modern teachers that are alive today, and we hope that you are as inspired as we are by their impact. We hope it helps our readers discover new authors and inspirational ideas.

This year’s list is more global and diverse than ever before. The youngest person on the list is Jeff Foster (32 years old) and the oldest person is Kyozan Joshu Sasaki (105 years old). We are also sad to report that Stephen Covey who was on last year’s list, passed away in July, 2012. There are several factors that were taken into account when compiling the list. The main three criteria are:

1) The person has to be alive
2) The person has to have made a unique and spiritual contribution
on a global scale
3) The person is frequently googled, and is actively talked about on the internet; for writers, the book sales via Nielsen Data are also considered.

By taking into account the amount of times that a person is googled, the list gains a highly democratic parameter. In a sense, being googled is a form of digital voting, and illustrates just how often someone is being sought out. Additionally, we were highly selective in creating this list and did our best to remove candidates who spread messages that were hateful or intolerant.

Ultimately, this list is meant to celebrate the positive influence of contemporary spiritual teachers.

Watkins’ Mind Body Spirit magazine publishes the 100 Most Spiritually Influential Living People list on an annual basis and we welcome your feedback and suggestions in the comments below.

LIST AT A GLANCE: (scroll down for the top-10 in detail)

1. Dalai Lama 35. Marianne Williamson 68. Richard Rohr
2. Thich Nhat Hanh 36. Andrew Weil 69. Jeff Foster
3. Eckhart Tolle 37. Elizabeth Gilbert 70. Colin Wilson
4. Deepak Chopra 38. Steve Taylor 71. Tony Parsons
5. Rhonda Byrne 39. Iyanla Vanzant 72. Judy Hall
6. Dr. Wayne W Dyer 40. Esther Hicks  73. Pema Chödrön
7. Paulo Coelho 41. Mantak Chia 74. John Bradshaw
8. Oprah Winfrey 42. Masaru Emoto 75. Richard Bandler
9. Nelson Mandela 43. Erich von Däniken 76. Liz Greene
10. Byron Katie 44. Lisa Williams 77. Michael Newton
11. Alice Walker 45. Louise L. Hay 78. Daisaku Ikeda
12. Alex Grey 46. James Redfield 79. Jack Kornfield
13. Doreen Virtue 47. Stuart Wilde 80. Vladimir Megre
14. Richard Bach 48. Mooji 81. Rowan Williams
15. Desmond Tutu 49. John Gray 82. Rupert Spira
16. Francis Chan 50. Ken Wilber 83. John & Caitlín Matthews
17. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar 51. Krishna Das 84. Kathy Jones
18. Robin Sharma 52. Drunvalo Melchizedek 85. Huston Smith
19. Kyozan Joshu Sasaki 53. Dan Millman 86. Debbie Ford
20. Gregg Braden  54. Adyashanti 87. Rupert Sheldrake
21. Neale Donald Walsch 55. Graham Hancock 88. Stanislav Grof
22. Amma 56. Bob Proctor 89. Don Miguel Ruiz
23. Andrew Cohen 57. David R. Hawkins 90. Lars Muhl
24. Brian Weiss 58. Daniel Gilbert 91. Satish Kumar
25. Matthew Fox 59. Jack Canfield 92. Gary Snyder
26. Z’ev ben Shimon Halevi 60. Caroline Myss 93. Prem Rawat
27. Alejandro Jodorowsky 61. Philip Berg 94. David Deida
28. Peter Russell 62. Seyyed Hossein Nasr 95. Colette Baron Reid
29. Starhawk 63. Bruce Lipton 96. Thomas Moore
30. Michio Kaku 64. Karen Armstrong 97. Lorna Byrne
31. Ram Dass 65. Julia Cameron 98. Bernie Siegel
32. Diana Cooper 66. Lynne McTaggart 99. Anita Moorjani
33. Pope Benedict XVI 67. Dolores Cannon 100. James van Praagh
34. Vadim Zeland  

1- Dalai Lama. Born Lhamo Dondrub, Tenzin Gyatso is the 14th Dalai Lama. Tibetan Buddhists believe him to be a reincarnation of his predecessors and the Buddha of compassion. He is a vocal activist for Tibetan independence and has made an incredible contribution to global spirituality. He was awarded the Templeton Prize in 2012 and donated most of the prize money to the Save the Children fund in India. Time Magazine call him “The most influential person in the world”, while The Times commented “He draws crowds that no other spiritual leader or politician could hope to match…he seems to look at life in a different way to everyone else”. His latest books How to Be Compassionate: A Handbook for Creating Inner Peace and a Happier World and Towards The True Kinship Of Faiths: How the World’s Religions Can Come Together are now available in paperback. ::  Born in Taktser, Tibet :: 06/07/1935 :: Spiritual Leader

2 – Thich Nhat Hanh. Thich Nhat Hanh is a Vietnamese Buddhist Zen Master, poet, scholar and peace activist. During the war in Vietnam, he worked tirelessly for reconciliation between North and South Vietnam and his courageous efforts moved Martin Luther King to nominate him for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1967. He founded the Order of Interbeing and the Unified Buddhist Church, along with monasteries and spiritual centres in Vietnam, the USA and France. He lives in Plum Village, his meditation centre in France, and travels widely, leading retreats on the art of mindful living. His latest book Fear: Essential Wisdom for Getting through the Storm was published in November. :: Born in Thua Thien, Vietnam :: 11/10/1926 :: Spiritual Leader

3 – Eckhart Tolle. Eckhart’s profound yet simple teachings have helped countless people throughout the world find inner peace and greater fulfillment in their lives. At the core of the teachings lies the transformation of consciousness, a spiritual awakening that he sees as the next step in human evolution. His books, The Power of Now and the highly acclaimed follow-up A New Earth are two of the best-selling Mind, Body, Spirit books in the world. Tolle’s free online “un-course”—video teachings offered as reminders to the true source of peace and freedom within yourself – provides free resources to work towards a deeper level of consciousness. :: Born in Lünen, Germany :: 16/02/1948 :: Modern Teacher and Writer

Deepak Chopra4 – Deepak Chopra. As a writer on Ayurveda, mind-body medicine and spirituality, Chopra has had huge success with titles such as Ageless Body, Timeless Mind and The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success. His latest books are Super Brain: Unleashing the Explosive Power of Your Mind, co-written with neurologist Rudolph E. Tanzi, and God: A Story of Revelation. Also new in paperback Is God an Illusion: The Great Debate between Science and Spirituality, in which Chopra pits his views against leading physicist Leonard Mlodinow. :: Born in New Delhi, India :: 22/10/1946 :: Physician, writer and public speaker

5 – Rhonda Byrne. Well known for The Secret book and DVD, Byrne advocates the belief that we can all transcend our suffering by not falling prey to negative thoughts. She has been listed among Time Magazine’s list of 100 people who shape the world, and has also produced television shows. Her latest book, The Magic, was published in March 2012. :: Born in Australia :: 12/03/1951 :: Writer and TV/Film producer

 Wayne Dyer6 – Dr Wayne W Dyer. Affectionately called the “father of motivation” by his fans, Dyer is one of the most widely known and respected people in the field of self-empowerment. His childhood was spent in orphanages and foster homes, and he has overcome many obstacles to make his dreams come true. Today he spends much of his time showing others how to do the same. His latest book, Wishes Fulfilled: Mastering the Art of Manifesting, was published in February 2012. :: Born in Detroit, Michigan, USA :: 10/05/1940 :: Author and Speaker

Paulo Coelho7 Paulo Coelho. The Alchemist is one of the top selling books in history, with over 65 million copies sold in 150 countries. Coelho has sold more than 150 million books in over 150 countries worldwide, and his works have been translated into 71 languages.His new book Manuscript Found in Accra is published in April. :: Born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil :: 24/08/1947 :: Novelist

Oprah Winfrey8 – Oprah Winfrey. Oprah might just be the most influential person in the world. She has discovered and advocated many spiritually influential thinkers—from Obama to Eckhart Tolle. Her multi-award-winning talk show became the highest-rated program of its kind in history. She now hosts Oprah’s Lifeclass (a self-help show), Super Soul Sunday (a spirituality show), and Oprah’s Next Chapter (an interview show) on her TV channel OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network. :: Born in Kosciusko, Mississippi, USA :: 29/01/1954 :: Talk Show Host, actress, producer and philanthropist

Nelson Mandela South Africa The Good News – Nelson Mandela. Mandela was an anti-apartheid activist and served 27 years in prison. After his release from prison in 1990, he led his party towards a multi-racial democracy and served as President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999; he advocates compassion and reconciliation and won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993. He is active in fighting AIDS and racism, and his autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom is still an inspirational best seller. :: Born in Transkei, South Africa :: 18/07/1918 :: Political Activist

Byron Katie (c)Kasey Lennon10 – Byron Katie. Katie refers to her method of self-inquiry as ‘The Work’ and promotes the idea that we can liberate ourselves from suffering by not believing/listening to negative thoughts. Katie exemplifies her methods as she has overcome paranoia, suicidal thoughts and severe depression. In addition to her bestselling books, she teaches her methods at free public events, in prisons, hospitals, churches, corporations, shelters for survivors of domestic violence, universities and schools, at weekend intensives, and at her nine-day “School for The Work”. :: Born in USA :: 06/12/1942 :: Author and Speaker


For the full Spiritual 100 list 2013, see issue 33 of the Watkins Mind Body Spirit magazine.

*Watkins’ Mind Body Spirit magazine is now available  in Canada at specialty health & bookstores or take out a subscription directly from Watkins Books.*

Remembering Debbie Ford

“I can admit wholeheartedly that most days I don’t have a clue about my life’s purpose. And I’m okay with that, because Debbie taught me that the minute I “think” I know who I am, I shut out possibilities and I’ve lost connection from my heart and divine spirit.”
– friend & colleague, Cate LeBarre

“The question “Who am I” never has a fixed answer. The self is fluid and constantly changing, meaning your own self and the self you share with everyone else.”
– Debbie Ford from The Shadow Effect: Illuminating the Hidden Power of Your True Self

This February [2013], Debbie Ford left her physical form; one of the most relatable teachers of human nature and human behaviour that this earth has been blessed with.  While her person will be greatly missed, she leaves a body of work for future generations to learn and grow from, and more valuable, an undeniable presence of spirit that will permeate us forever; you may not always know it, but you will always feel it.

For those of us who know her voice and her laugh, they blow freely in the wind and we will hear them forever.

Debbie’s journey and the way she communicated it had a strong impact on me. She always feels like she is with you in your living room, having a cup of tea with you whether you are reading her books or listening to her tapes/shows. Her ability to be real, vulnerable, fallible and open to share all of this with us is a true gift. Her early life was extremely challenging to break open and she subsidized those lessons with both intuitive and formal education. Debbie’s personal growth continued to happen alongside our own; and her human-ness was never so valuable as came in her most recent years, trying to find a place to put her new reality: the good, the bad and the ugly. Some of her final interviews have impacted my world like no other (on Oprah’s SuperSoul Sunday).

There are thousands of tributes to Debbie online – check them out. They will simply make you feel good. Optimistic. I am going to let some of Debbie’s own thoughts and quotes be my tribute to her earthly life. A brief note from Debbie’s sister Arielle after Debbie’s passing is below… and speaks volumes!

I have links to Debbie’s work on my ‘books’ and ‘links’ pages (Shadow Effect book and DVD here).  If you don’t know Debbie, check out youtube, Shadow Talk on Hayhouse Radio archives, or one of her videos — because you just have to hear her voice! -SL

Here’s Debbie’s voice in writing:

~~Your character defects are not where you’re bad, but where you’re wounded.

~~The self you defend every day as your unique point of view is a convenient fiction that makes the ego feel good.

~~It’s ironic that to find the courage to lead an authentic life, you will have to go into the dark rooms of your most inauthentic self. You have to confront the very parts of yourself that you fear most to find what you have been looking for, because the mechanism that drives you to conceal your darkness is the same mechanism that has you hide your light. What you’ve been hiding from can actually give you what you’ve been trying hard to achieve.

~~The soul moves through life with grace. The ego moves through life with recklessness, chaos, and drama. The soul feels good about who it is and what it wants and needs to sustain itself, to grow and evolve. The ego never has enough; it can never leave well enough alone or see beyond the current circumstances. It is entitled, confused, and feels stuck. The ego tirelessly swims against the current, while the soul sits back and floats in the direction that life is moving in. You’re either being guided by your soul or driven by your ego. At any time, you have access to either of these realities.

~~Today is the day to break free from the prison of the person you know yourself to be and step into a self you have yet to know. Will it be comfortable? No, but do it anyway. Growth is usually uncomfortable. If you’re looking for comfort, you will more than likely feel tired and old earlier than you want, and the misery of your caged soul will always be looming nearby. So do it with joy, or at least with curiosity, because all living things must grow or they die—even you. 

~~Such inner work can be painful, but it is vital and unavoidable. Emotional pain is important, just as physical pain is. If you had broken a leg and it wasn’t painful, how would you know it needed to be reset? Physical pain is a way the body says, “Look at this. Care for this. Tend to this.” And psychic pain is the same. Sometimes we need to say, “I need to tend to this pain. Why is it here? What is this situation trying to tell me? What part of myself do I need to address?”

~~If we see someone we want to emulate, it’s because we are seeing qualities that exist within us. If we are enthralled by someone else, it is because the aspect we love in that person exists inside us. There is no quality that we respond to in another that we lack. It might be hidden behind some bad behavior or an old, outdated shadow belief that says we are the exact opposite of what we are seeing in the other person. But I promise you that if you are attracted to a quality in someone else, no matter how great, it also exists inside you.

~~Revered philosopher and psychologist Ken Wilber makes a great distinction. He says if a person or thing in the environment informs us, if we receive what is happening as information or a point of interest, we probably aren’t projecting. If it affects us, if we’re pointing our finger in judgment, if we’re plugged in, chances are we are a victim of our own projections.

~~It’s not until our self-destructive behaviors are no longer a secret and we see through objective eyes the damage we’re doing to ourselves and those around us that we find the motivation to change.

~~If we don’t deal with these shadows, make no mistake—they will deal with us. They will show up in our relationships and separate us from those we love, keep us tied to a job or lifestyle that we outgrew years ago, or lead us to an addiction or habits that undermine our success and happiness.

~~I guess god created us… but we make ourselves. We are the architects and builders of our own destiny. Our lives contain no joy that was not born in our imagination, and crystallized into outward expression by the power of our own thoughts. Sorrow, sickness, and failure spring from fear and negative thinking, and are self-imposed-always.

You and Your Shadow

This article’s theme area:

Break free from all fears. There is a gift behind the mask.
Debbie Ford, April 2012

This February, one of the great influencers in the world of realizing personal power ended her earthly journey. Debbie Ford vacated her physical form here with us, but her impact will resonate with humanity for generations. Debbie Ford is a part of a team of enlighteners from this era who have been instrumental in getting folks to get real; to really simplify our thinking around what our personal lifetimes represent in the big picture and how to use and ENJOY them!
One of Debbie’s focuses was in the area of “shadow work”, identifying limiting beliefs and not simply change them, but manipulate their power to be more effective. Her relatable style resonated, and millions of people, including me, could understand her message: re-examine your perspective… and CHILL OUT!! I have more about Debbie in this week’s “QUOTES to Query”: check it out and if you haven’t read any of Debbie’s books, it’s a MUST! -SL



Most of us set out on the path to personal growth because at some point the burden of our pain becomes too much to bear. The Dark Side of the Light Chasers is about unmasking that aspect of ourselves which destroys our relationships, kills our spirit, and keeps us from fulfilling our dreams.

It is what Carl Jung called the shadow. It contains all the parts of ourselves that we have tried to hide or deny. It contains those dark aspects that we believe are not acceptable to our family, friends, and most important, ourselves. The dark side is stuffed deeply within our consciousness, hidden from ourselves and others. The message we get from this hidden place is simple: there is something wrong with me. I’m not okay. I’m not lovable. I’m not deserving. I’m not worthy.

Many of us believe these messages. We believe that if we look closely enough at what lies deep within us, we will find something horrible. We resist looking long and hard for fear of discovering someone we can’t live with. We fear ourselves. We fear every thought and feeling we have ever repressed. Many of us are so disconnected from this fear we can only see it by reflection. We project it onto the world, onto our families and friends, and onto strangers. Our fear is so deep that the only way we can deal with it is either to hide or deny it. We become so good at this we actually forget that we are wearing masks to hide our authentic selves. We believe we are the persons we see in the mirror. We believe we are our bodies and our minds. Even after years of failed relationships, careers, diets and dreams, we continue to suppress these disturbing internal messages. We tell ourselves we’re okay and that things will get better. We put blinders over our eyes and plugs in our ears to keep the internal stories we create alive. I’m not okay. I’m not lovable. I’m not deserving. I’m not worthy.

“The greatest act of courage is to be and to ownall of who you are—without apology, without excuses, without masks to cover the truth of who you are.” — Debbie Ford

Instead of trying to suppress our shadows, we need to unconceal, own and embrace the very things we are most afraid of facing. By “own,” I mean acknowledge that a quality belongs to you. “It is the shadow that holds the clues,” says the spiritual teacher and author Lazaris. “The shadow also holds the secret of change, change that can affect you on a cellular level, change that can affect your very DNA.” Our shadows hold the essence of who we are. They hold our most treasured gifts. By facing these aspects of ourselves, we become free to experience our glorious totality: the good and the bad, the dark and the light. It is by embracing all of who we are that we earn the freedom to choose what we do in this world. As long as we keep hiding, masquerading, and projecting what is inside us, we have no freedom to be and no freedom to choose.

Our shadows exist to teach us, guide us and give us the blessing of our entire selves. They are resources for us to expose and explore. The feelings that we have suppressed are desperate to be integrated into ourselves. They are only harmful when they are repressed: then they can pop up at the least opportune times. Their sneak attacks will handicap you in the areas of your life that mean the most.

Your life will be transformed when you make peace with your shadow. The caterpillar will become a breathtakingly beautiful butterfly. You will no longer have to pretend to be someone you’re not. You will no longer have to prove you’re good enough. When you embrace your shadow you will no longer have to live in fear. Find the gifts of your shadow and you will finally revel in all the glory of your true self. Then you will have the freedom to create the life you have always desired.

Fall 2012 Interview with Debbie at Omega Institute for Holistic Studies

Omega: You’ve written that you can’t have the full experience of the light without knowing the dark. Why do you consider the shadow to be the gatekeeper of true freedom?

Debbie: You can’t be fully yourself if you have aspects that are hiding. The shadow holds the truth of all the authentic parts of being human — your vulnerability, your discontent, your jealousy, or an experience from the past that you haven’t digested. The only way to invite them out of the shadow is to bring them into the light. The light is a new perspective in which you see that everything that’s happening is happening to help you develop your soul. Then you’re free — free to be who you are most authentically, free to ask for what you need, free to find your joy and bliss, free to share your gifts.

Omega: For someone unfamiliar with shadow work, what would you say is the first step in recognizing your shadow?

Debbie: The first step is seeing what you don’t want to be. Look at who you don’t like and the qualities they have, not their behaviors but the qualities inside of them that you don’t like. You can start with your family, because, of course, you can always see these qualities in your brothers, sisters, parents, or children. For example, when my son lived at home, he was a procrastinator, and I would get upset and get on him about it. But the truth is, I’m a procrastinator. I have an important new project right now, but I’ll do anything not to start it. I was trying to change it in him because I need to look at it in myself.

Omega: Based on your own experience and your years of teaching, would you say that you’re ever really done with the shadow?

Debbie: Every time you grow and evolve, you find new versions of your shadow. So are we ever done? I don’t think so. But once you understand shadow work, it’s actually not something you want to be done with, because every time you embrace a shadow, you open up a new pathway for your life.

Ultimately, all of this work is about learning to love one’s self, one’s flaws, one’s shortcomings, and one’s past; and when you accept that it is possible — that that is your spiritual journey here on earth — you have a foundation for setting yourself up to live a life beyond your wildest dreams.

Omega: Your most recent book, Courage: Overcoming Fear and Igniting Self-Confidence, is about unlocking the courage that lies within each of us. What’s the difference between a true sense of courage and that sense of confidence that only lives on the surface of things?

Debbie: What is often called courage is when you muscle up and barrel through. It’s forceful, often without thinking or feeling. But the courage I’m talking about is this divine inner strength that everyone is born with, a strength to be your most authentic self and to take powerful actions consistent with your loving, compassionate heart.

So how do you tell the difference? One is filled with anxiety, force, or roughness, and the other one is gentle and tender — even if your voice is raised or you’re demanding change from somebody else, you are doing it with a loving heart.

Omega: Last year, you took the courageous step of publicly sharing your cancer diagnosis.
What would you say to somebody who has just found out the worst thing they could about their health?

Debbie: I would tell them something that Deepak Chopra said to me, “Don’t take it personally.” The first thing that happens when you get a diagnosis is that you start thinking, “I am this, my world is this,” and “What did I do to get this?” It becomes a very personal issue, but making it personal is the most painful way to deal with a diagnosis.

Omega: How do you define healing?

Debbie: For me, healing is a state of consciousness. It’s a place deep inside where one feels whole and good about themselves and their lives no matter what’s going on.

Healing really has nothing to do with being cured.

My diagnosis is considered incurable, which just means there’s no cure that they know of, which is actually a great diagnosis, because to me, healing is a process of how you feel and how you can live a life that is deeply meaningful and soulful.

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