“If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.” –Haruki Murakami
There is something about summer reading that is instantly relaxing. Maybe it’s the time we specifically carve out for ourselves to sit down and be still. Maybe it’s the calm state through which you enter the imaginative world that inevitably adjusts and widens your perspective; or perhaps it is because “reading is an easy and quick way to nourish your soul because it is for the most part a solitary pursuit. And being alone, or at least alone in your thoughts, on a regular basis is crucial to maintaining a sense of self.”
As you move in to the days of summer, here are five books that revisit timeless messages of spiritual courage, the importance of an imaginative open mind, self-renewal and gratitude, and the beauty of willingness to widen your perspective:
1. Taking the Leap: Freeing Ourselves from Old Habits and Fears: "The source of our unease is the unfulfillable longing for a lasting certainty and security, for something solid to hold on to. Unconsciously we expect that if we could just get the right job, the right partner, the right something, our lives would run smoothly...We are never encouraged to experience the ebb and flow of our moods, of our health, of the weather of outer events--pleasant and unpleasant--in their fullness. Instead we stay caught in a fearful, narrow holding pattern of avoiding any pain and continually seeking comfort. This is the universal dilemma." Pema Chodron writes of the Buddhist concept of shenpa. “Shenpa is the urge, the hook, that triggers our habitual tendency to close down. We get hooked in that moment of tightening when we reach for relief. To get unhooked we begin by recognizing that moment of unease and learn to relax in that moment.” Taking the Leap helps us to see how certain habits of mind tend to “hook” us and get us stuck in states of anger, blame, self-hatred, and addiction.
2. The Answer is You: Michael Bernard Beckwith eloquently outlines one simple truth, the answer really is you. According to Beckwith, “I want to make an important point here. The practices described in this book are not methods for creating a way to bypass the challenges we all face in life, or to put a happy face on the sorrow in our hearts. Their intention is to provide the skillful means for courageously and compassionately drawing out the best of ourselves when we face challenging times.” Initially aired as a 60 minute PBS Special in 2009, The Answer is You is the companion book to the PBS Special which transcends religion by resonating with individuals of any faith.
3. Spiritual Economics: The Principles and Process of True Prosperity: Eric Butterworth’s definition of prosperity transcends materialism. Of course there is a requirement to responsibly handle living expenses, however, Butterworth suggests a spiritual approach such as focusing on the evolution of your soul, performing acts of love and giving, and keeping always present the thought that you are an individualized expression of the divine intelligence through which an unending flow of creative ideas wants to emerge through you. Material things and financial abundance are discussed, but as a natural byproduct of having lived a creative life. For those who are ready to recognize, heal and release their belief in lack and limitation, Butterworth presents simple spiritual practices to assist you to expand your consciousness.
4. Opening to Channel: How to Connect with Your Guide: Don’t let the title discourage you. Although this is not a book I would normally select, for some reason I purchased the book at a used book sale and was pleasantly surprised at the clear and easy to understand format of the information. Channeled by Sanaya Roman in collaboration with Duane Packer Ph.D, Opening to Channel is a guide to the art of channeling. It has been widely perceived that channeling is something that only individuals with specialized psychic gifts are able to do. However, according to the information channeled by Orin through Sanaya, anyone who maintains a sincere intention to connect with higher dimensions can learn how to channel. To channel, you raise your frequency as you achieve a trance state and the guide lowers their frequency to match the energy fields as closely as possible. It is through this state of a matching frequency that transmission of the message takes place. If you are someone who meditates regularly, has comfortably connected with your spirit guide and would like to connect with higher level guides, this book may be a worthy summer read for you.
5. The Man Who Talks with Flowers: The Life Story of George Washington Carver: This is an eye opening and compelling read by Glenn Clark that demonstrates the beauty of connection to the world around us and the creativity this connection can yield. Carver is known for inventions surrounding peanuts but this story presents a deeply spiritual and inspirational man who surrendered his whole being to love and guidance. This is a story that is not well known but worth acquainting yourself with. Time and time again we are reminded that individuals who astound us with their creativity are not “special”. They are us and we are them. We all have access to this divine intelligence that Carver was able to intertwine with faith, artistic endeavors and science.