Sponsored Post: Sheryl Paul’s Conscious Weddings E-Course

So, I’m truly thrilled to announce that Sheryl Paul, the author of The Conscious Bride (a book that I know tons of you are fans of, and is on the APW book list) has launched a new web course that could not be a better match for Team Practical. Seriously. Could. Not. Be. Better. This course is the answer for all of you that email me and say that you really do want pre-marital counseling, but you can’t find anyone near you/appropriately secular. Now you’ve got an e-course designed just for you. Wheee! And you’re welcome!

This course is designed to help you work through a whole variety of pre-wedding fears, helping you really process the  life  transition that is married-getting. Maybe you have a serious case of cold feet, maybe you’re just worried about not being in the place you’d hoped you’d be in regards to getting married, maybe you’re not sure why you’re so stressed out in the first d*mn place. Or maybe you just want a space to think through getting married, with some professional guidance. Well, now you can download Sheryl Paul’s pre-wedding counseling course, and have someone who specializes in this very thing guide you in your journey.

I asked APW Intern Lauren to sit down with Sheryl Paul, and interview her about her work. I thought it would make a great sponsored post, but I was wrong. It makes a great regular post. It explained things to me about why I experienced our wedding day the way I did that I hadn’t had words for at the time. So, without further ado, I give you Sheryl Paul, and her Conscious Weddings E-Course (from anxiety to sanity… the APW way):

I understand from your website that you work with people going through and preparing for transitions. How did you begin working first, in the world of transition therapy, but more specifically, with those preparing for weddings?

I’ve always been fascinated by transitions, and have always noticed the lack of information and support that could help people through life’s changes. As an adolescent, I longed for a circle of mentors to teach me about becoming a young woman. As a college graduate, I needed information that would support me through that season of uncertainty. And when I set out to write my Master’s thesis on the wedding transition (which eventually evolved into “The Conscious Bride”), I knew that I would counsel women through their engagement and first year of marriage. It wasn’t long before Conscious Weddings was born, and Conscious Motherhood and Conscious Transitions naturally followed.

There’s a potency in transitions because embedded in them is an opportunity for growth. Transitions mean letting go but they also mean a new beginning or a rebirth. It’s this potential for growth that inspires me, and it’s one of the lifelines that women hold onto when they’re struggling through the wedding transition. In order to be born as a wife in a healthy marriage, you have to let go of your identity of being single, your fantasies about what you thought being engaged would feel like and what you’ve been conditioned to think love was supposed to be, your primary allegiance to your family of origin, every other possibility of life partner. It’s a lot to let go of! But what you gain on the other side and how you grow as a person makes it worth it.

At APW we focus a lot on wedding zen – the art of NOT being overly stressed out about the material things, ideally through the planning process, but really and truly on the day of the wedding, just letting all of those anxieties melt away and being present in the moment. In today’s culture of bigger, better, more expensive weddings that are supposed to be utter perfection, finding this mindset is difficult. What would you tell a bride who is having difficulty harnessing her wedding zen?

One of the key principles of Conscious Weddings (and all of my work with life’s transitions) is that the more you address emotionally during the “letting go” stage (engagement, pregnancy, packing the boxes, etc), the more effortlessly joyous and present you’ll be on your wedding day. Zen, like any meditation practice, is just that: a practice. That means you can’t over-focus on the planning or obsess about your partner’s imperfections the entire engagement as a way to avoid your difficult thoughts and feelings and then expect to show up on the wedding day feeling great. It doesn’t happen that way. The work has to occur beforehand – and it’s hard work – but I promise you that when you reign in the perfectionist and focus on the things that matter during the engagement, it pays off in spades.

I can say without exaggeration that every woman I’ve counseled and/or has gone through the E-Course has felt joyous and present on her wedding day and, more importantly, has done the essential work to lay a healthy foundation on which to begin her marriage. The anxiety is awful, I know, but when women find the courage, accurate information and the right tools to understand and address it, they reaps immeasurable benefits.

And here’s a secret that few people realize unless they’ve gone through a conscious transition: the benefits extend beyond the wedding and marriage but help women learn things about themselves that will serve them for the rest of their lives. When we’re in transition, our normal defenses are softened and we’re rendered more vulnerable than during other times. This softening amplifies our core issues so that we’re able to see them with crystallized clarity. Whether the issues are around self-doubt, perfectionism, being critical of ourselves and others, or body image, an opportunity for transformation emerges around the wedding transition that, when embraced, leads to real healing.

Who would you say your Conscious Wedding E-Course is right for? Who would benefit the most?

The E-Course is for anyone who’s engaged (or thinking about getting engaged) or newlywed and feeling anything less than pure joy during what she (or he) thought was supposed to be the “happiest time of her life.” If you’re feeling grief about letting go of singlehood or remembering old losses or ex-partners, if you’re scared about getting married and making a lifetime commitment, and if you’re overwhelmed by a variety of anxiety-based questions like “What if I don’t love my partner enough?” or “What if these feelings mean I’m making a mistake?”, this course is for you.

The E-Course is based on the seven most common questions that my clients have asked me over the last fourteen years, and I’m so delighted to be able to offer the consolidation of these answers through articles, tools, exercises, worksheets, audio interviews with women who were anxiously engaged and are now happily married, and exclusive videos.

The seven lessons are:

  1. “What’s wrong with me?” or Your Personality Type and An Overview of the Wedding Transition – Where you’ll learn about the profile of the anxiously engaged, why some people seem so happy during their engagement when you’re struggling, and an overview of transitions.
  2. “Why is my partner driving me crazy?” or Understanding Projection – Where you’ll understand why you feel disconnected from your partner and you’ll understand projection and the breakdown of the fantasy of the perfect partner that begins when you get engaged.
  3. “What if I don’t love him or her enough?” or Real Love versus Infatuation – Where you’ll learn about the romantic fantasy that pervades are culture and gives people an unrealistic expectation about what they think they’re “supposed” to be feeling for their lifetime partner.
  4. “What if these feelings mean that I’m making a mistake?” or Accepting Uncertainty – Where you will learn to distinguish between real fear resulting from a red-flag issue in the relationship, anxious fear and healthy transition fear.
  5. “How do I manage my anxiety?” – Where you’ll learn highly effective tools for handling the anxiety both in the moment and for the rest of your life.
  6. “What if I feel like this on my wedding day?” (You won’t if you address the feelings during the engagement)
  7. “What does marriage mean today?” – Where you will understand the blueprint of marriage you’ve been given and replace it with your own reality.

I have no doubt that anyone struggling with these questions and issues will benefit enormously from the E-Course. One of the best parts about it is that I can offer infinitely more than I can in counseling sessions and the information is available as an instant download that is accessible 24/7. When women are struggling with anxiety, they need heavy doses of reassurance and accurate information to replace the pervasive faulty beliefs about weddings and marriage that our culture propagates. The E-Course provides them with this information, and so much more.

What first inspired you to write the Conscious Bride? Do you see the world of weddings becoming more centered, or is it now even more focused on the material things, since writing the book?

I wrote “The Conscious Bride” to fill the glaring hole in the wedding culture about what women really feel during their engagement and first year of marriage. The focus is on perfection and attaining these unrealistic images that are presented in magazines and popular media, and when I first wrote “The Conscious Bride” there was literally nothing that addressed the normal fear, grief, and anxiety that often accompanies the transition.

I haven’t really seen a shift in weddings either way since writing the book. And I will say that there’s nothing inherently wrong with planning a big and beautiful wedding. For some women, a big wedding is an inherent part of their culture and there’s no way to avoid it. But, again, when a woman attends to her inner world during the engagement and learns not to brush aside the difficult feelings, she can feel connected to herself and everyone around her on her wedding day. It’s really the intention that matters: are you having a big wedding to try to achieve an externally imposed image of what you think a wedding is supposed to be, or are is your wedding an authentic expression of your values and an opportunity to celebrate you love and commitment.

And finally, what makes you a good fit for APW and APW brides specifically?

One of my clients sent me a link to APW and when I started reading the posts I was blown away by the level of intelligence, insight, and honesty here. As you know, this is rare in the wedding world where the primary focus is on the material and the externals to the exclusion of the inner world. I knew I had to make personal contact (and was honored to see “The Conscious Bride” in the recommended reading list – thank you, Meg : ) so we could start to cross-pollinate our like-minded audiences. I’m absolutely thrilled to begin that conversation today.

And so am I! Go go check out Sheryl Paul’s Conscious Weddings E-Course, and of course her blog. Let’s get this conversation started!

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  • Sheryl’s thoughts on the softening of our normal defenses during transition really articulates what has happened in the last year and a half of my life. Our fourteen month engagement covered exactly the first year that my fiance and I opened our own business, together, just the two of us. I can’t separate the transition from single to married life from this career transition, but I’ve certainly learned more about myself and my relationship, and with greater clarity, during the last year than any other period.

    I’m adding The Conscious Bride to my personal reading list; and looking forward to more exchanges like this one!

  • I love this idea of transition therapy and the way that it acknowledges that based on how we’re individually wired, our emotions may not exactly align with the normal social cues of how we’re *supposed* to feel in the face of life changes.

  • Englyn

    <3 APW

  • This was one of the books I read during my engagement that I got the most out of. It makes me happy to see The Conscious Bride featured on APW. :)

  • Marina

    Yay! “The Conscious Bride” helped me so much during some of my more anxiety-stricken engagement moments. I’m excited to see this on APW.

  • Abby C.

    Ooooooh, EPIC!!! I am absolutely taking that e-course.

    Question, though: Is the E-Course or the book a good fit for grooms as well as brides? My FH and I are in the same place as so many – wanting to do premarital counseling but not finding any good matches.

    I did read Committed, and loved it, although I couldn’t make it to the book club. FH picked it up after me and is currently reading and loving it as well.

    • Marina

      The book does focus mostly on brides, and the ways expectations for brides in our culture are unique. So guys won’t find a lot of information addressed directly to them, but depending on the guy may find the information interesting or useful anyway. If your guy feels like the wedding process is a transition for him, I think he’d probably find it at least somewhat useful.

    • The E-Course is actually a good fit for grooms as well as brides. It’s not a premarital course, per se, but in many ways it will prepare you for marriage more than most courses out there in that you’ll both learn what’s happening for your emotionally during the transition. I don’t address topics like money, religion, and child-raising, but I’ve found that most people who come to me have already addressed those topics and are ready for something deeper. Couples who have gone through the E-Course have not regretted it!

  • Zan

    I haven’t read this one, but it looks great. Mr. Cowboy and I were thinking of doing the Marriage Success Training course (www.stayhitched.com) since it is offered nearby. Has anyone done this one and have thoughts on how it compares to this? Maybe we’ll just do the e-course instead?

  • Mel

    The Conscious Bride was the best book I read leading up to the wedding. It really helped me understand that grief is part of the transition process, because even though it’s great that you’re starting a new life, it means your old way is kind of dying. It helped me understand why my transition may have been making a certain family member freak out in a really hurtful way. I think it made me have more respect for my complex emotions, instead of scolding myself to act like either 1) the happy perfect bride, or 2) the anxious crazy bride. It also made me feel like I could plan a non-church wedding that was still spiritual and reflecting my belief system. Thank you for this book!

  • This is super awesome. I’m going to buy the book right now, and if I didn’t have great free counseling due to my grad program, I’d totally do this for pre-marital.

  • Rachel

    going to read it now… :)

  • Michele C.

    Great, thanks for offering something for those of us that want a pre-marital course but aren’t getting married in a church. Am going to also get the book now!

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