5 books to help you connect to yourself.
One of the things I decided to do more of this year is write. But I don’t want to write just for the sake of writing. I’d like what I’m sharing to be useful or helpful to others in some way. I was inspired recently by a student to write about the books I’ve read. Since I was a kid I’ve loved reading; a total bookworm. I’ve read so many books over the years that this could well end up being a series – watch this space.
Today I’m sharing a short review of the 5 books that have taught me the most about myself, my relationship with others, and the world around me. These are the 5 books that I find myself returning to, time after time for inspiration or a little sliver of positivity when I’m feeling low.
One of my favourites. If you’ve ever taken a Yoga class or Meditation with me, chances are you’ve heard me read from this book. It’s one of those books that never gets put away on the shelf, it just never quite makes it there. That’s because it’s just so lovely. Full of advice, inspiration and wisdom on self-love, trusting your heart, and embracing the power of your own creativity.
It’s basically a meditation or reading for each day of the year. I’ve probably been through it’s pages 3 or 4 times over. Sometimes I just pick it up and see where it falls open and read from that page, a bit like an oracle reading. Other times I might go to the entry for that day’s date or other significant date that may have been on my mind.
No matter how many times I read the same passage over, I always get something new. That’s because we and what we are going through is constantly changing. We’re never quite in exactly the same “place” as the last time we read it.
This book was recommended to me by a dear psychic friend of mine and as usual, she wasn’t wrong! It was exactly what I needed to read at that stage of my life.
It’s a collection of personal stories of the author’s life and weaves in teachings from a Native American spirituality perspective. Each chapter begins with a story and ends with suggested practices and exercises you may like to try, associated with the lesson or theme.
I found some of the sections particularly helpful as journal prompts as I’d not long started keeping one again and was getting tired of just writing what I’d done that day. This book really helped me to look a bit deeper.
Living from the Heart explores another way of being. A way of seeing the world through the heart sense, rather than the head/eyes/mind. It can be an abstract concept at first but once you get it, you get it. This book offers exercises and practices that you can do to really get in touch with your heart as a sense.
I didn’t realise it at the time, but I used to experience a fair amount of anxiety. One of the ways that would show up would be that I would constantly feel as if I was running out of time. Especially, if I was somewhere or doing something I really enjoyed. I would find myself robbed of that enjoyment simply because I was stressing about the fact that it was going to end. It sounds silly – or maybe it doesn’t if you know what I mean.
Learning to ‘see’ and appreciate my life through my heart helped me cultivate a kind of compassionate acceptance for what is. I was able to learn to appreciate the moment, in the knowledge that it would end and for that to be ok. Life is one big moving mass of constant change. Trying to cling to certainty and sameness, only creates suffering.
You can download a free PDF version of this one here: https://endless-satsang.com/living-from-the-heart.htm
An exploration of physical pain and how it might have non-physical roots, this book looks at the body beyond the mechanical and gets into the mind/body connection. The more I read on this subject, the deeper I understand that there is no separation between mind and body. We are a whole being.
Like most active people, I’ve had my fair share of injuries and episodes of pain. On more than one occasion I’ve felt I was failed by the mainstream medical system. (It was actually one of these occasions that led me to re-discover yoga and start taking it seriously). The main reason I felt let down in the way that I did, was that it seemed to me that the people treating me weren’t interested in helping me to explore the cause of the issue. I am very much of the belief that if you want to resolve a problem, it’s vital to know what caused it in the first place.
This book looks at how repressed anger and other emotions can manifest as pain in the body and suggests exercises to retrain your mind to develop a different kind of attitude toward your pain and physical situation. Many people have reported much success using this method to heal their back pain. I find this fascinating.
Saving the best for last – although it’s a close call for the number one spot between this one and Journey to the Heart. When describing this book to a friend, I said something like, “I feel like this guy got inside my head and unscrambled all the jumbled up thoughts I’ve ever had about life and the world that we live in, and somehow magically translated all of that into such beautiful, poetic, eloquent language that sometimes makes you want to cry.”
Again, I’ve shared readings from this one during my yoga class. Many of the things I would love to be able to communicate to others myself but just can’t seem to find the words for, are found in this book. From our connection to the Earth through the land where we grew up, to our connections with one another through relationship and even absence, we can begin to understand who we are and what makes us tick.
This book also never finds its way back to the book shelf. Every time you pick it up and read what you’ve read before, you’ll gain a slightly different understanding.
When purchasing books, I try to avoid the website that begins with a capital A, for many reasons I won’t bore you with right now, but mainly because they are fast becoming a monopoly. They might be the cheapest now, but what happens when there’s nowhere else? Do you think they will then still keep their prices so low?
You can also just search for second hand books and see what comes up. Charity shops (when they are open) are another good source.
For new books I like to see if agreatread.co.uk/ has what I’m looking for before I look elsewhere – they are a UK company, family-run I believe, and they offer free delivery.
I’ve also very recently been convinced to give audiobooks a try. Whilst I appreciate this when out on a long solo walk, it doesn’t quite do it for me. It doesn’t smell the same!
If you’ve read any of the above books and would like to share your thoughts and experiences with me, please leave a comment below. If you have any recommendations that you think I or others might enjoy, please share!