Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth yoga, fitness, & nutrition courses, when you sign up for Outside+.
Lalah Delia is sitting across from me, emitting a rarely achieved level of zen, eating vegan banh mi tacos and explaining the concept of Dark Night of the Soul. It’s a crossroads of sorts, she says, an event or time period that jump-starts intense transformation. The dark before the dawn. She’s had many in her 46 years—the sudden death of her mother, her own suicide attempt—but the one we’re discussing right now, an emergency hospitalization for an intestinal infection that ruptured her colon in 2001, is the one that eventually led her to this outdoor picnic table in Denver, talking to me. It’s the traumatic event that she can point to when she looks back at her life and definitively say it put her on the path to becoming who she is today: a spiritual teacher, wellness educator, author of the self-empowerment book Vibrate Higher Daily, and a living embodiment of gratitude, mindfulness, poise, and equilibrium.
For Delia, “vibrate higher” isn’t just a catchy mantra—it’s an all-day meditation and way of being that she lives by. When she says “high vibe,” she means nourishing to the mind, body, and soul. So everything from the foods she eats to her thoughts and reactions are carefully chosen with her overall well-being in mind. She also believes in the law of vibration, which says that everything that exists is made up of energy, vibrating at certain frequencies and naturally attracting events, experiences, and people emitting similar wavelengths.
Delia credits learning about the law of attraction and reading Joseph Murphy’s The Power of Your Subconscious Mind with helping her work with thoughts and intentions to bring about positive change in her life. She calls it practical metaphysics. To tap into it, she says, you start with awareness. Notice which belief systems you have on autopilot from the minute you wake up: I have to get up; I have to rush; I have to be mad at people in traffic; I have to have an attitude if I’m standing in line. “Vibrating higher is adopting a new way of thinking that says, I have a right to choose a different reaction,” she says.
The Science of Thought
It might sound a bit woo-woo, but a growing body of scientific research has shown that our thoughts and intentions have a direct effect on not just our own physiology and psychology but the health, behavior, and appearance of other living and nonliving things as well. Studies have confirmed time and again that the human mind can affect everything from the way plants grow to how quickly we heal. Dean Radin, PhD, is the chief scientist at the Institute of Noetic Sciences and an associated distinguished professor of integral and transpersonal psychology at the California Institute of Integral Studies. He has dedicated his career to understanding the effect of human consciousness on the physical world. “Does your intention and will change the world? Yeah, it does,” he says. But it can’t make a new car drop out of the sky. “You can’t manifest a gold-plated Mercedes out of nothing. It’s more likely that you’ll get an atom of gold and not even know it.” To that end, a study Radin co-authored in the Journal of Science and Healing in June 2020 found that when seeds from the flowering plant Arabidopsis thaliana were grown with water that Buddhist monks had imbued with the intention to improve plant growth, the sprouts grew with thicker stems and greater amounts of chlorophyll than the controls—proving, some argue, that our thoughts have a much greater effect on the world around us than we’re traditionally taught to believe. “We don’t have to hold onto old, outdated programming,” says Delia, “that we are just physical beings here to simply go through life however it comes to us, and we have no power.”
Radin also points to a type of study that’s been replicated numerous times in the past 25 years called an Attention Focusing Facilitation Experiment, in which participants have been able to enhance or disrupt another’s concentration from a distance. Subject One sits in a room focusing on a task and self-reporting when they notice their mind wandering. Subject Two is in a different room and is given instructions to send focusing intention or distracting intention to Subject One. Results showed that Subject One’s mind wandered when the distraction intention was given and focused better during the focus intention. “This is the real-life lab version of a Jedi mind trick, and it works!” Radin says. “You can help people pay attention and you can distract people from paying attention remotely.”
Delia says she was able to access higher purpose, potential, and joy through focusing on her intentions and subconscious beliefs. Once she shifted her thoughts, she was able to access a whole new timeline of possibilities, healing, and higher resonance. But it wasn’t a quick or easy process: It has taken daily dedication and what Delia calls “journeying in grace”—being mindful that you won’t get it right every day, and that’s OK—to adopt not just a new routine but also a new lifestyle.
In the past 20 years, times of intense transformation have often been preceded by what Delia refers to as “desert periods” of struggle or solitude. “It’s a place that most people fight,” she says. “But I always say, ‘Solitude is sacred.’ It’s where all the magic and transformation happens.” When we honor those periods of discomfort, loneliness, and upheaval and work through them rather than struggle against them, they become bridges to brighter tomorrows. And that’s why she’s come to recognize her Dark Night of the Soul as a wormhole to a great rebirth. “Be aware of it,” she says. “Because sometimes we can stay in that Dark Night because we don’t understand the process, that it’s taking us somewhere new.”
Becoming the Butterfly
In 2001, Delia was in need of someplace new. After growing up in the 1980s and ’90s in South Central Los Angeles—a community marked by gang violence and drug use and fueled by oppressive systems such as over-policing and the school-to-prison pipeline—she was stuck in a cycle of depression, punctuated by abuse at the hands of a domestically violent partner. “I didn’t know how to break [the cycle of ] being the victim,” she says. “I would leave; I would go back.” Something had to change, but what, or how, she didn’t know.
When she was hospitalized and essentially told she needed a new colon at the age of 27—that early, influential Dark Night—she felt she had hit rock bottom. Something inside her was telling her not to get the surgery that she was told was needed to repair it. Her doctor offered an experimental drug to help reduce inflammation but warned that it would only temporarily stave off the inevitable. “He said, ‘I give it about four months, but you’ll have to have the surgery eventually,’ ” she recalls.
Delia decided to take her chances with the experimental drug and, at the advice of her sister, looked into herbal medicine. She started a strict vegan, gluten-free diet along with an herbal protocol from famed Honduran herbalist Alfredo Bowman, better known as Dr. Sebi. “I never went back for any checkup. I definitely never went back in four months. I didn’t do any of that,” Delia says. “This could have been irresponsible in all logical ways. But something made me home in on this plant medicine and nutritional protocol, and I did it to a T.”
In a matter of weeks, she says she started feeling different. After 90 days, she felt so much clearer and stronger, both physically and emotionally, that she knew a major shift was afoot. “I had more mental clarity, more joy, more vitality and [felt] in control of myself and my life,” she says. “Finally, resistant habitual patterns broke. It was a holistic healing in every sense of the word.”
Changing her eating habits helped Delia feel empowered enough to examine the other aspects of her life that she now recognizes as “low frequency,” such as relationships that made her feel small or required her to “dumb down” her gifts. When she started learning about the law of attraction, she was drawn to the notion that the thoughts we think actively shape our reality. She had been experiencing this in her own life. “I realized it was all connected,” she says. “When I raised the vibration of what I was putting in my body, my body started holding space for healing. I understood that. And then I was like, ‘Well, my emotions are vibrating higher now, so I’m no longer holding space for low-vibrational relationships.’ That helped me heal. I had no idea how, but I understood that at this point in my life my thoughts had changed; my emotional body had changed; therefore, I felt different when I woke up every day. I didn’t know where my life was heading next, but I knew it wasn’t going to go back to my old patterns.” And as she expanded her own consciousness, she felt called to share what she’d learned with others who were stuck.
Over the past two decades, Delia has spun that internal wisdom into a career coaching others through her online Vibration School and community. Her book, Vibrate Higher Daily, was released in December 2019 and quickly became a bestseller, garnering attention from Vogue, Refinery29, and Essence. “Lalah has a really awesome and profound way of leading people closer to themselves and their truth through her meditation practices and her writing,” says podcast host Alex Elle, author of After the Rain: Gentle Reminders for Healing, Courage, and Self-Love. “What’s really powerful about her is she’s able to get people to trust themselves and show up in ways they can enrich their own lives and learn that they’re their own greatest teacher.”
Here, Delia’s morning routine for vibrating higher—adapt it to fit your own needs, and remember to journey in grace!
“I love writing down everything I’m thankful for in my journal.”
Quiet time or solitude and spiritual practice
“I meditate quietly with my eyes closed in contemplation. I do prayer work and affirmations at the same time. It takes about 20 minutes.”
“I do morning intermittent fasting until about 11. So I drink tea, juices, things that are really liquifying and hydrating.“
“I spend that intermittent fasting period in the creative process—typing or creating ideas. I work on my books and write for my blog or my newsletter. Whatever the heaviest thing is on my to-do list that day, I like to tackle it before I eat. If I wait until after I’ve eaten, I’m a little slower, and my thoughts and creativity are not in the same flow as when I’m fasting.”
Stretching and Light Dancing
“I’m using movement daily to help me clear out my thoughts and bring in creative energy and joy.”