The Rev. Ed Bacon

Have you ever asked yourself, "Who am I?" or "Is this all there is to life?" You're not alone. To help you feel more connected, present and alive this year, day 3 of Oprah's Best Life Week is dedicated finding your spiritual path. "Whether you're religious or not, I hope that this show will begin to help you find a deeper connection to begin to live a richer, more fulfilling life," Oprah says. "To understand why you're really here on earth."

Some of Oprah's favorite spiritual teachers are shedding some light on the subject of spirituality. The Rev. Ed Bacon is the rector of All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, California, a well-known liberal and progressive church in both its theology and politics. He defines spirituality as a meaningful connection. "It is about our being connected with one another and connected with the cosmos," he says. "It is the process of being healed, forgiven, empowered to go into the world, to be fully alive."

The Rev. Bacon says full, unconditional love is the essence of spirituality. "It's that experience of love that connects you with everyone, connects you with your past, connects you with your future, gives you hope and excitement about going into the next day, going into the next moment."
Elizabeth Lesser

Elizabeth Lesser is the co-founder of Omega Institute, America's largest adult holistic education center, and the author of Broken Open and A Seeker's Guide

According to Elizabeth, spirituality is within everyone's reach. Just as we all have the instinct to eat, sleep and drink, Elizabeth says spirituality is ingrained in all of us. "There's this instinct inside of each and every one of us that there's more to life than meets the eye," she says. Elizabeth says spirituality is our intuition that there is something greater to life than the daily grind. "It's the fearlessness to ask the big questions," she says. "Who am I? What's my purpose? Life? Where do we go when we die? And how do we live a fully alive, meaningful, giving, generous life when we're here?"
The Rev. Dr. Michael Beckwith

The third spiritual teacher sitting on the panel, Michael Bernard Beckwith, is the founder and spiritual director of Agape International Spiritual Center in Los Angeles. He is a featured teacher in the film and book The Secret and is the author of Spiritual Liberation.

Michael says love, peace, harmony and wisdom are everlasting qualities "They're real and they're eternal, and so when an individual is connected to those qualities and begins to exude them and express them, at that moment, they're in the spirit," he says. "And when an individual is mature enough to express that on a regular basis, we can say that they're spiritually mature." Regardless of the temporary problems you may be experiencing, Michael says the connection to love, peace and harmony stays with you. "That which carries you when you're going through tough times," he says. "That's what it means to be spiritual."

The terms "spirituality" and "religion" are often confused, but all three spiritual teachers say you can be one without being the other. While Oprah calls the source of her spirituality God, others call it "the source" or "universal energy." "I think God doesn't get hung up on the titles," Oprah says. "It's the people that get hung up on the titles."

Oprah's definition of spirituality revolves around the understanding that we are more than what we can physically see. "When you begin to realize that you are more than your body, that your purpose is greater than your profession or your career—that every life, because you were born you have a right to be here and there is a calling on your life—it means you live your life without fear and you know that no matter what happens, no matter what happens, you are going to be all right. You are going to be all right. That's what spirituality is for me."

Across the country, people are struggling to hold on to their jobs, savings and lifestyles they've worked so hard for. The economic crisis isn't only thinning wallets, its affecting the spirituality of some who are hit the hardest. Tanya says she and her husband invested their life savings into a now failing bakery business. "My entire family depends on my success, and I don't know where to turn," she says. "I've always been the strong one, and I don't know—how do you have hope when everything around you is falling apart?"
Elizabeth Lesser

Instead of giving up because her life took a wrong turn, Elizabeth says Tanya should rid herself of the idea that life is supposed to be a certain way. "We exert so much energy swimming against that current," she says. "There's so much tension in resisting what's happening that we lose a lot of our power and our inner wisdom to go forward."
Monica George

Tanya and anyone in crisis can find inspiration from Monica, a mother warrior who became a spiritual teacher for many who heard her story.

Three days after a scheduled C-section, Monica's body was attacked by a flesh-eating bacteria. To save her life, doctors had to amputate her arms and her legs. Nurses and doctors anticipated the inevitable "why me" breakdown, but it never came. Instead, Monica focused on rehabilitation so she could get home to her daughters and her husband. "I want my girls to know that their mother's a fighter," she said. "Don't ever give up on anything, ever."
The Rev. Bacon

Just as Monica found the virtue of courage during her hardship, the Rev. Bacon says Tanya's crisis is merely the threshold for something bigger to come. "Let the old die because the new is going to be even better than you could ever have imagined," he says. "The metaphor I love for that is pruning. We get old, nonfruitful parts of our lives are pruned away so that something new and more fruitful can blossom."

By letting go of what she thought her life was supposed to be, the Rev. Dr. Beckwith says Tanya can find greater spirituality. "As a matter of fact, all spiritual growth is really about letting go of something. It's not about gaining anything."

"I always think everything is happening in your life, no matter how difficult the crisis, to teach you more about who you are," Oprah says. "To grow you into who you were really meant to be."

Caroline is a mom from California who gave up her career 12 years ago to stay home with her children. While she feels blessed, Caroline also says she sometimes feels unappreciated. How can she find contentment? 

The Rev. Bacon suggests that everyone take time for themselves every day. "Pause for five minutes or 10 minutes and simply let God, the divine within, thank you for being who you are," he says. "Remind yourself that you can access that any second of your day. Every moment something sacred is at stake."

Michael says Caroline is looking to identify the part of her that is not defined as mother or wife. "It's very important. And it has a lot to do with motivation," he says. "You're doing it for your own growth. ... You're doing it for that presence within you, and then your identity shifts from being mother, wife, etc., and you're now in tune with that divine presence that is thanking you for letting it come into its own as you."

Elizabeth was both a stay-at-home mom and an employee in a corporate environment, so she can relate to Caroline's situation. "If you are not feeling fulfilled all the way down to the bottom of your soul, you ultimately won't have as much to give your kids, so there is a good balance," she says.
John Diaz

After years of being on television, nothing excites Oprah more than experiencing a defining spiritual moment. "Two years ago, John Diaz was here talking about surviving a horrific plane crash," Oprah says. "What he said that day is something that I know so many of you who heard it will never forget."

After the plane crashed, John says he saw people strapped into their seats, burning. As he watched, he says he noticed what appeared to be auras leaving their bodies, some brighter than others. "I thought, 'The brightness and dimness of the auras were how one lives one's life,' so to speak," he says. "That's one of the major things that really has changed within me ... I want to live my life so my aura, when it leaves, is very bright."

Elizabeth believes the colorful auras were people who fully lived their lives. "What the world needs are people who have come alive. That's what we all need to do to become fully ourselves," she says. "Alive. Joyful. Present in every moment."

Nikki is a high school teacher in Corning, New York, who learned that her mother may be dying of cancer. Nikki says she has become angry with God and questions his choices. "If there's a God, why would he give such a wonderful person this kind of disease? And why would he put my little siblings—I have a 9-year-old sister, a 12-year-old brother and a 21-year-old brother in college," Nikki says. "Why would God want to put these two little kids through something like this at such a young age?"
The Rev. Ed Bacon, the Rev. Dr. Michael Beckwith and Elizabeth Lesser

The Rev. Bacon says it's appropriate for Nikki to have feelings of anger, but she needs to understand that there is grief hidden beneath. "I think it's really important to let yourself feel that grief and to let a notion of a God who 'gives diseases' die," he says. "Because that's not the real living, loving God."

Michael believes Nikki is living in fear of what she might be losing. Instead of feeling fearful, he hopes Nikki will ask herself what the experience is trying to teach her. "Where are you to grow in this? Where are you to expand? What more of you needs to be extended and expressed?" he says. "If you do that, this entire experience will be a boon for the entire family."

Elizabeth says an important step in the healing process is for Nikki to allow herself time to grieve. "Let yourself cry. Cry in front of your brothers and your sister," Elizabeth says. "Model to your siblings what it means to love. And sometimes the greatest badge of love is grief. ... Just show how grief-stricken you are at the possibility of losing your mother."
Jacqui Saburido

Jacqui Saburido is a living example of what true spirituality means. When she was just 19 years old, Jacqui and her friends were hit by a drunken driver. Two passengers were killed instantly. Jacqui was alive but suffered devastating burns on nearly 60 percent of her body. After 40 surgeries, Jacqui remained horribly disfigured. And, even though her everyday life is a struggle, Jacqui said she's glad to have survived. "I'm glad, because I want to live," she said. "I have a lot of things that I didn't, I haven't had time to do yet."

Michael says Jacqui's fight to live life every single day can be attributed to the strength of her soul. "It's the real definition of beauty," he says. "That's very powerful."

For Sedrick, growing up as a gay teen in rural Alabama wasn't easy. "Life was a little bit tough in respect to my sexuality," he says. At the age of 17, Sedrick says he started a destructive pattern of accumulating debt. "It's not that I couldn't pay the bills at the time, but for some reason I just didn't pay them. It's almost like to me an addiction," he says. "My question is: how do you guys suggest approaching stopping this vicious cycle?"
Elizabeth Lesser

As a result of growing up feeling he had to hide his true self, Elizabeth believes Sedrick could be looking for fulfillment in the wrong places. "Instead of just being genuinely who you are in the world, which is the biggest thrill there is, actually, you start to do things," she says. "Jumping out of planes or being in debt, because that's sort of in a twisted kind of way making you feel really alive."

Sedrick says this is what he has struggled with for most of his life. "I've mastered being one person on the outside, and it's completely opposite of who I am," he says.
The Rev. Dr. Michael Beckwith, Elizabeth Lesser, the Rev. Ed Bacon and Oprah

Michael says Sedrick has been using the drama of unpaid bills for excitement. "It appears as though your mantra has been, 'I have drama, therefore, I am,'" Michael says. "Instead of: 'I am, therefore, I think, therefore I can live this life as an adventure.' And it appears as though you've internalized the lack of self-appreciation."

For Sedrick to overcome his past, Michael believes Sedrick should learn self-appreciation by writing down some meaningful goals for what he wants to accomplish in life. "Then write down one thing that you can do in each of those areas—just one little thing so that you can develop some kind of momentum," he says. "Serve an apprenticeship to self-love and appreciation. Forgive yourself and realize you don't have to have drama to feel alive and excited."

Sedrick says that prior to being on the show he didn't grasp all that was happening in his life. "Since watching most of the guests on here today and listening to what you guys have to say, I think I'm going to leave here with a renewed vision," Sedrick says. "So I'm getting it."
Mattie Stepanek

"Spiritual teachers show up in many different sizes, shapes, races and ages on this show," Oprah says. "I don't know anyone who exemplified true wisdom more than my dear guy, Mattie Stepanek."

Remembering Mattie

Ready to explore your spirituality? Oprah says you already have what you need to get started. "Everything that is happening [in your life] is trying to bring you closer to what you really need. To what is really real," Oprah says. "Take that in for a moment."

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