Before Devotion author Dani Shapiro penned her first bestseller, she was a wildly rebellious young woman who viewed religion and spirituality as sources of conflict and anxiety. Shapiro had been raised in an Orthodox Jewish home led by an extremely religious father, but left Judaism behind in her teens. Her life spiraled out of control from there, as she dropped out of college, began abusing drugs and alcohol, and had a string of bad relationships. In short, she was lost.
Then, a terrible accident changed everything. When Shapiro was 24, her parents were in a devastating car crash. Her father died two weeks later and her mother was severely injured. Shapiro became her mother's caretaker and turned her life around. She got sober, finished school, got married and started a family. But Shapiro says she was still yearning for something more...
That restless yearning kept Shapiro awake at night, she tells Oprah on an episode of "Super Soul Sunday."
"I was waking up at three o'clock in the morning every morning… I didn't know what was wrong but there was this feeling that I was falling and that there was just nothing to catch me," Shapiro says.
The author's eye-opening revelation came unexpectedly during a regular yoga practice. "I was standing in tree pose in this little room doing yoga and the word 'devotion' actually presented itself to me. It was almost like in neon, red and flashing," Shapiro recalls. "The moment that happened, I thought, 'Oh... I'm in a spiritual crisis.'"
Shapiro turned to writing to help sort through her spiritual questions and uncertainty -- a challenging task to accomplish in the midst of the chaos of daily routines.
"I would get my whole day done and check everything off every list… And then something in my being was forcing me awake because it was the thing that I hadn't dealt with," Shapiro says. "It was the most important thing, but what happens in life is it's just very easy to say, 'Well, I'll deal with that later.'"
"So you're blessed to have that restlessness," Oprah says.
"Yeah, it's a gift," Shapiro agrees. "It's a wake-up call."