How did you go from being an international fashion model to writing a book about spirituality?
When I was a successful fashion model in Paris, I struggled with how to remain spiritually fulfilled while living a very gratifying material life. When I left the fashion world to pursue a doctoral degree in education and spirituality, I found myself equally frustrated, not knowing how to integrate daily material living with my spiritual values and aspirations. What I have discovered through decades of research and practice is that you don’t have to compromise one for the other. Instead, joy and fulfillment come from integrating our highest spiritual aspirations with our daily material reality.
What are 3 commons myths about spirituality that you challenge?
- The spiritual and the material are separate aspects of life that can never be united:
Actually, the two are inseparable. Everything physical, nature, animals and humans, is an expression of a creative ingenious evolution. And everything created by mankind is an expression of either a positive intention, or a negative one; either some noble value or aspiration, or some lowly self-serving intention.
- Material things have no spiritual value:
Remember that material items can be life changers. A medical device may save lives, mobile phones connect family and friends across the globe, and health food stores promote healthy vibrant living. These are spiritual values and principle applied to material devices and services. While all material things will eventually perish, as long as they exist, they can potentially be an expression of a noble value, principle, quality or aspiration.
- Regular people can’t access the same spiritual wisdom as spiritual teachers:
Anyone can gain the same knowledge and wisdom that spiritual teachers possess if they learn how to access a more enlightened version of themselves where all knowledge and wisdom reside.
Can you explain spirituality in simple lay terms?
You’re flying in a plane…suddenly there is turbulence and everything is shaking, with the plane bouncing up and down…To get out of turbulent air, the pilots often climb to a higher altitude, where the atmosphere is calm…That is what spirituality is all about––rising to a higher altitude of emotional and mental stability, where there is no turbulence and you can sail over the disturbances of daily life with greater ease.
Why is there a longing for meaning, fulfillment and purpose in our culture today?
Our culture has fallen deeply into the material-spiritual split where we have chosen to pursue material possessions and ignore the spiritual values inherent in our material existence. People have an intrinsic longing to lead meaningful, purposeful lives, and contribute to making our world a better place. Neglecting this need has created a spiritual hunger in our culture, a great void needing to be filled. But people also have a need to lead materially gratifying lives instead of being at constant war with our inevitable material world. So the balance lies in living in spiritual-material balance, finding fulfillment of spirit while enjoying material desires and pleasures.
Give an example of how a seemingly material pursuit may be spiritually fulfilling.
Take a chef, whose calling may be to serve people by delighting their palette, awakening their spirit, and revitalizing their body; yet, if being a foodie is dismissed as simply material pleasure, then both chef and the people he or she serves are short-changed from the full spiritual and material experience of nourishment, enjoyment and pleasure.
A less obvious example is being an accountant. When you see the sense of order and peace in a company where the balance sheets are organized, and then if the accountant’s contribution is acknowledged and appreciated, you realize that any seemingly material career has a spiritually fulfilling and satisfying component.
What inspired you to write this book?
One of the main inspirations was a talk I attended by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. A young woman asked a question that I myself had been grappling with for several years: “We go to many workshops and are introduced to many spiritual teachings, but how do we apply all these in our daily living?” This book shares how to integrate spiritual teachings into our daily lives.
How is this book different from other titles on spirituality?
Most books on spirituality fall into the divisive trap of separating the spiritual from the material, and valuing the spiritual over the material. Living a Spiritual Life in a Material World challenges this common misperception and offers practical tools for integrating our inevitable material existence with our highest spiritual aspirations.
What was the purpose of including your personal story?
There is a common belief that if you write about spiritual matters, it implies that you have “figured it all out,” which means that you are immune to life’s many challenges. I wanted the message to be that we all face challenges, but can overcome them with the right roadmap. Just like me, anyone can change their life for the better and find the promise of fulfillment and balance in their own unique way.
What are the Four Keys to Spiritual-Material Balance?
First of all, the Four Keys are part of a larger transformative program to help people have a significant breakthrough around any area of their life where they feel out of balance, relationships, career and finances, health, self-esteem and self-care, parenting, etc.
The Four Keys are:
- Expansive Presence – Connecting with a more enlightened you
- Attentive Listening – Accessing your inner wisdom
- Inspired Action – Manifesting your dreams, goals, and purpose
- Faith-Filled Knowing – Embracing daily miracles
Benefits to practicing the Four Keys:
- Change your outlook and mood within minutes
- Shift from feeling alone to feeling connected
- Make intuitive decisions with clarity and confidence
- Have a greater impact on daily situations
- Experience the excitement of realizing your unique calling
- Lead a balanced and gratifying physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual life.
Who would most benefit from your research?
- Those searching for practical ways to find more meaning and purpose in their life but don’t want to buy into the spiritual New Age culture.
- People who want a fulfilling and satisfying life, without having to give up their material lifestyle.
- Spiritual seekers will find a concrete roadmap to spiritual-material balance which will quantum leap their spiritual development.
Anna Gatmon, PhD, is a visionary educator and spiritual innovator. She comes from an eclectic background that spans the USA, Israel, Sweden and France. Her rich life experience includes careers as a fashion model, founder of an alternative elementary school, counselor, and author. She is creator of The Aligned Life® program, helping mission-driven individuals live and work in spiritual-material balance. Anna holds a doctorate degree in Transformative Learning from the California Institute of Integral Studies and lives with her family in Sonoma County, California.