Bridgitte Jackson-Buckley is a writer living in Los Angeles. Her spirituality-focused pieces appear in publications like Medium and The Examiner. Her book The Gift of Crisis: How I Used Meditation to Go From Financial Failure to a Life of Purpose (Mango Publishing) is a deeply personal exploration of the many emotions that come with poverty, scarcity, and financial failure. Jackson-Buckley reveals the compassionate guidance she found through meditation to help her shift her perspective from shame and fear towards courage, hope, and a life that she loves.
Julie Peters: Your experience of meditation came with a kind of inner guidance. Do you have a religious or spiritual background that helped you hear that voice? What did it feel like when you first heard the voice of guidance in your meditations?
Bridgitte Jackson-Buckley: I was raised in a home where my mother and I attended a Baptist church. As a child, I spent many Sunday afternoons sitting on an uncomfortable wooden pew, listening to sermons about the strong possibility of me going to hell. At 12 years old I even had a traditional water baptism. However, despite a religious background, at some point during the trying times of my adult life I moved away from faith into fear and scarcity.
During the financial crisis, it was a deeply stressful and scary time in my life. Although I would have loved to go to a therapist, we couldn’t afford it. I began to read self-help and spiritually-based books. In reading books, attending a spiritual center, and listening to inspirational talks, I noticed a pattern in all the information I was taking in—be still and be quiet in order to allow the deeper messages from your Higher Self to make themselves known. So I began to meditate.
Meditation helped me to increase my intuitive capacity to receive direct guidance from within—to cultivate a state of inner quietude through which my inner voice could become active.
During one morning meditation, after a sustained period of silence and prayer, it occurs to me I can ask for guidance to come into my awareness. The first time nothing happens. Then around the third or fourth time, I notice words float in from the left side of my awareness. It isn’t a voice or anything I can identify as something outside of myself. They are words, with an extremely loving presence, which float in like a subtle breeze. At first, I think, ‘I must be making this up. It must be my imagination.’ As I continue to listen, over more meditation sessions, I realize the words are not words, phrases, and sentence structures I use. Simply put, I don’t talk like this; therefore, it can’t be from something I’ve made up or imagined, yet I feel a connection. So I continue to listen and feel for the loving presence of the words which I now refer to as guidance.
JP: In your book, you talk about the importance of connecting with intuition. You write, “What is important is to be clear if I’m tuned into my intuitive soul center, or if I’m tuned into fear-based emotions. You have to be clear on how to delineate between the two.” How do you tell the difference?
BJB: As you become more aware of your body and where truth is felt in your body, you begin to trust yourself. You can use your self-trust to identify your soul center and use it to discern what is true. When information comes into your awareness, bring your attention to the place in your body where intuition is felt the strongest. This is your soul center. Your soul center is where you feel your strongest connection to the presence of a Higher Intelligence; where the Higher Mind, the soul center, and the heart work together in a complimentary way.
Your body intuitively recognizes words, actions, sentiments, and deeds of truth. If you are in tune with your soul center and validate it as being intuitively intelligent, you begin to tune into your body to determine if outside information resonates with truth.
For example, when I meet someone for the first time, enter a new place, or listen to someone speak, I tune in to my soul center (my abdominal area). When I hear, see, or feel outside information I immediately pay attention to how it moves through my body. I have found that information will initiate an energetic sensation of either a strong “yes” or resounding “no.”
On the other hand, if I’m tuned in to a fear-based emotion and/or reaction, the processing of external information feels jittery, unstable, and uncertain, as if I’m grasping for an answer instead of tuning in to the answer.
JP: You tell the story in your book about a big fight with a houseguest. I loved the concept that whenever someone is driving you crazy, making you angry, or sparking your fear, that person is teaching you something about where you feel vulnerable or where you need to grow. What can we learn from our conflicts with others?
BJB: The feedback you receive from your interactions, and the ways in which you approach the people around you, is constantly revealing something to help you further develop and improve yourself. However, if you are not ready to see what your environment and the people around you reflect back to you, it will not be seen.
As human beings who are more alike than unlike, you are parents, friends, siblings, uncles, aunts, co-workers, grandparents, spousal partners, and nieces and nephews, who are “mirrors” of each other.
The mirror is there for you to look at what is reflected back to you. When you look at your reflection in a mirror, the reflection beckons you to open your eyes to look deeply to see your true reflection; to identify what is not real, what is not truly you so you can let it go.
The reflective mirror also applies to the people in your life.
When you experience these individuals as “mirrors”—the reflections of yourself in another person—they reflect the virtues and qualities you admire in yourself as well as the shortcomings and qualities you reject. What you see outside of yourself and dislike in someone else is an aspect of yourself that you have not embraced within yourself. The same applies to what you see in someone else that you like or admire. It is an aspect of yourself that you have embraced.
The people in your life also reflect your deepest beliefs, even the beliefs you did not choose.
We all have aspects of ourselves that we want to hide from, be separate from, reject, and avoid. These aspects are easy to identify because we judge them and attach negative labels to them. We may label some people as lazy, controlling, demanding, moody, emotionally unavailable, shameful, or too aggressive, to name a few. We may label without hesitation to examine where, when, how, and to whom we may exhibit the exact same qualities and behaviors.
JP: You have a very moving story about getting food stamps for the first time and the incredible shame that came along with that. Can you talk about shame and poverty and how you were able to move past self-blame and into getting help?
BJB: In addition to going to the Department of Social Services to apply for food stamps, there were other occasions when I wanted to run and hide and not deal with what was at hand.
One of the hardest things to do is to bring hidden parts of yourself out into the light, to own what you have repressed. Crisis and challenging situations (like applying for food stamps) are available for you to learn from, to initiate introspection and self-reflection, to uncover hidden biases and beliefs that need to be resolved, not to render more self-judgment.
What my life circumstances reflected back to me, what I could not escape, was that I carried a consciousness of poverty.
I placed most of my attention on what was missing from my life instead of looking at what was trying to enter. I was heavily attached to the way I thought something should enter and how it should be made available to me. I had come to expect financial obstacles, problems, and more setbacks. Where did this come from? In part, this came from me not wanting to be disappointed, not wanting to be too hopeful, and not wanting to expect something that may not show up.
The notice-to-quit, house foreclosure, and food stamps are physical representations of scarcity, loss, relinquishment, wanting what is not present, and absence—in other words, representations of unresolved subconscious issues surrounding abandonment. If I wanted to break the cycle of suffering, I would have to release the wounded parts of myself that were entrenched in abandonment, and process the shame and self-judgment I inflicted upon myself. Shame reinforces the cycle of poverty consciousness. If I didn’t release the parts of my consciousness rooted in shame and abandonment, whatever came into my life that represented prosperity would not have enough grounding to stay. It would be fleeting because a consciousness of poverty, loss, and shame only allows more of the same.
Now that the book has been out for some time, I have met people who have asked how I found the courage to write about something as personal as applying for food stamps. This is one of the reasons I wrote the book. I wanted to show that difficult experiences we have in life do not have to be burdens of shame unless we choose to carry them in that way.
JP: What is the one message you hope your readers get out of reading The Gift of Crisis?
BJB: Be with your heart. As best as you can, be with your heart because your heart knows where you need to go.
When you trust your heart, and I mean really trust your heart (not just saying you do), you surrender to go with the flow of the natural control that’s built into you. You can choose to relax and let your heart do the job it was designed to do—to lead you where you need to go.