The following books arrived like loving elders at just the right time to teach me lessons that would change my path in significant ways. Each of them gave me a taste of who I am and who I could be. It’s quite possible they move you, change you or at least prompt you to ponder too. Enjoy!
1. Haiku Mind by Patricia Donegan: Haiku Mind with its 108 haiku poems and beautiful prose responses taught me the pleasure rich experience of pausing and being aware. Switching our attention from the self to the other whether it be a homeless man’s face or a luminous raindrop on glass, to practice resting in the moment a few minutes a day not only expands our awareness and puts us at ease, but it reminds us of our true humanity. I was reflecting/pausing, or trying to, all my life. I need to pause in order to connect with myself and everything else. For many years, I stopped pausing and I lost the deepest part of myself.
Haiku Mind’s Zen theme and soft touch on such concepts as letting go, stillness and the sacred drew me in and woke me up ever so gently.
Haiku Mind also allowed me to discover the connection between capturing a moment and creativity. Expressing what your senses experience is creativity. For months I wrote a haiku poem every day. Meditative and therapeutic.
Haiku Mind brought my attention back to beauty, humanity, experiencing and peace. It felt like coming home.
2. If You Want to Write: A Book About Art, Independence and Spirit by Brenda Ueland:This book is probably the most influential read I’ve ever experienced. In Brenda Ueland I found a mentor, kindred spirit and unknowing therapist. Her belief that our imaginations are our spirit and are intrinsically fascinating whether you’re a house maid or a world traveler was just the thing I needed as I teased my own creativity into existence. Creative people don’t just make things up they write things down. Personal stories are a gift to others. Writing or any form of creating is a generosity.
Her encouragement to recklessly make mistakes emboldened me.
She pointed out that ideas slip in as we linger in solitude and stillness. Idleness wasn’t a sin but an opportunity for dreams and imagination to take form. We spend so much time in busy activity and willing things into existence that we miss lovely artistic opportunities. I didn’t realize it at the time, but this was the first inkling into an understanding of introversion. Stillness and solitude are comforting and generative to me. They wrap me in a dreamy world of ideas and wonder. Within them I unfold.
Love, to Brenda Ueland, was more than caring for and making others comfortable. To truly love someone you have to listen to them with your whole being. You have to be something yourself in order to affect them spiritually — which was in her opinion the highest form of love. How to be something yourself? By working hard and with gumption at something you love and care for and think is important.
3. A Woman’s Worth by Marianne Williamson: Part of our problem is that we expect love affairs to always feel good. They don’t. Actually, relationships don’t feel good anyway. We feel good…No man can convince a woman she’s wonderful, but if she already believes she is, his agreement can resonate and bring her joy. This book fed my previously piqued belief that love is found within. External sources cannot provide it. She confirmed Brenda Ueland’s belief that we have our own light within us and to share it is our gift to the world, our love.
…We were taught as children… that our value lies in what we do as opposed to who we are, we automatically switched to a masculine psychological mode —doing, doing,doing — in order to feel worthy. Williamson heralded the female goddess in all of us. Being is as important as acting. The deep meaningful experience of languishing in our inner worlds doesn’t feel valued, especially in our Western culture. As an introvert, I often felt (feel) sub-par because of my resistance to constant doing. Marianne Williamson affirmed resting in the inner world. She saw it as necessary in order to be spiritually whole.
One of my favorite proverbs or sayings is, When the student is ready the teacher appears. These books, as well as several others such as Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth and Marti Olsen Laney’s The Introvert Advantage, served as teachers to this wide-eyed student. They ushered in a new way of being for me. It wasn’t as though I became a different person but rather they gave me the courage to reveal my true self. I’m forever grateful.
I feel another spiritual renaissance coming on. This time it centers on relationships.
Some of the books currently residing or soon to reside on my nightstand:
The Way of the Superior Man by David Deida
Dear Life by Alice Munro
Real Love, Right Now by Kailen Rosenberg
What books or movies have changed you in profound ways? What lessons did they teach?
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