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Often, it takes a cracking open of your outer shell—some part of your life where you can't make sense of things, where you run into an obstacle you can't control or manipulate—to return you to the holy place within that can fuel and source a meaningful life. It is the events, circumstances, and experiences in the outer world that will ultimately expose the illusions that keep you stuck inside your human shell. You may have to lose your job or your money, experience the loss of a loved one or a betrayal, or become consumed by an out-of-control addiction to push past the closed doors of your ego's mind. I can assure you that all your challenges are there for one reason only: to turn you inward, and regardless of how you arrived here—through a desire to grow, a silent unhappiness, or a painful cracking open of the self—this cleanse bridges the gap between the internal and the external, so that you can return to your soul's deepest purpose by reconnecting to your divine essence.

When we are hungry for something to make us feel good about ourselves and we refuse to take care of our inner needs, we do stupid things. We get in repetitive patterns that we know will lead us nowhere. We succumb to our addictions, whether that means compulsively surfing the Internet and checking e-mail, shopping, viewing porn, eating, drinking, gambling, smoking, or spending. But most who suffer with deep feelings of emptiness know that there is nothing—and I mean nothing—that can fill that inner hole. Quick fixes and short-lived motivations just dig us deeper into the hole, leaving us more resigned in the present than we were in the past; hence the birth of the human chase.

Within you there is a hungry ghost that is always craving more, whether it's more love, money, respect, acknowledgment, or material possessions. No matter how much of these things you have, if you are emotionally deprived and spiritually impoverished, the hungry ghost takes over, and you find it impossible to feed its voracious appetite. This disowned part of yourself is never satisfied.
Ironically, though, when you allow yourself to connect to spirit, you want for very little because you're so rich and filled up inside. If all you ever prayed for, meditated on, and asked for was to open up to a deeper connection to this divine resource, everything that matches and vibrates on those higher levels of consciousness—including abundance, satisfaction, and a quiet mind—would come to you. But when you are disconnected from this source, you hunger for anything that gives you the illusion that it will make you feel better. The truth, though, is that there is only one solution to your inner hunger, only one way to satisfy the hungry ghost, and that is to fill it with love, with higher consciousness—to connect to all that you are and all that there is. When you are connected to your true essence, you feel blissfully content inside—one with your own soul and the spirit that sustains you. You're able to sail above the small, lonely feelings of your desperate heart that is searching for its divine counterpart. When you're connected to your soul's deeper purpose, you are able to bring to the world that which you long to give. When you're filled up inside by a power greater than yourself, you naturally feel love, compassion, and kindness for yourself and for others and are infused with the power and the confidence to be, do, and have that which best reflects and expresses your soul's highest potential.

When you are tapped in and connected from inside, you experience what the great twentieth-century novelist Franz Kafka so gorgeously expressed when he wrote, "You don't even need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Don't even listen, simply wait. Don't even wait, just be still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked. It has no choice. It will roll in ecstasy at your feet." This is because when you have faith and trust in the divinity of every soul on this planet, you can see that God will answer the call of your individual soul—not in ego time but in divine time. And if you are quiet and centered enough to hear the voice of your own soul, you will be delivered a life beyond your wildest dreams.

Debbie Ford is the national best-selling author of The Dark Side of the Light Chasers, The Secret of the Shadow, Spiritual Divorce, The Right Questions, The Best Year of Your Life and Why Good People Do Bad Things. Her new book is The 21-Day Consciousness Cleanse (Harper Collins). She conducts workshops across the country. She lives in California with her family.

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