I have been going through what you may call a spiritual awakening (or, if you prefer, a mental and spiritual breakdown). As I’m trying to keep this awakening on a positive note, even though it seems like everything around me is falling to shambles, I am always open to outside help to get me through this transitive time. After hearing from my loved ones around me, and even some of you Pretty Birds, I feel I am not alone on this blind journey of self-discovery, and even self-worth.
Since summertime is when I am most likely to be able to finish a book – during the rest of the year it takes me a lifetime to finish anything – I have already started my research on what to read this summer to give me some insight on this awakening going on inside me. With the current wellness boom happening, it is no wonder that how-to, self-help books are ruling the best seller lists. We all want to live our best life. Since the ample choices of what to read next can leave your head spinning, I thought sharing with you Pretty Birds what we are reading and what is on our lists might give you some inspiration on what to get for your summer book reading.
A New Earth, by Eckhart Tolle
Tamu happened to read the Tolle books out of order, starting first with A New Earth. She fell into this book because she was reading The Law of Attraction: The Basics of the Teachings of Abraham, by Esther Hicks, but, feeling unprepared to follow the teachings of Hicks, she wanted to start with A New Earth in order to grasp the approach for personal spirituality and self-improvement.
During one of Tamu’s yoga lessons, she recounted to Giovanni (her yoga guru) about how she has a history of getting into heated discussions with, of all people, customer service employees at airports. Throughout explaining her predicament, Giovanni responded with the fact it was her ego which led her into these dilemmas. Taken aback, Tamu was like, “I have an ego?”, but she was relying on the interpretation of having a big ego – meaning you are too full of himself. Her journey through A New Earth, made her realize what the meaning of the ego really is.
Tolle says, “One way of defining the ego is simply this: a dysfunctional relationship with the present moment. “ He then continues, “Negative states of mind, such as anger, resentment, fear, envy and jealousy, are products of the ego. When the ego is in control, these states of mind appear to us to be justified… letting the ego be in control leads ultimately to violence, fighting and war. “
The Power of Now, by Eckhart Tolle
Since finding much clarification from A New Earth, it was a no-brainer for Tamu to read The Power of Now next. On her own personal journey of inner enlightenment, Tolle’s teachings resonate with her. She has learned how to deal with her psychological pain, and wants to now work on her inner peace, which may not be the easiest journey, but she is determined to understand it. The Power of Now states that in the present moment, problems do not exist we must discover and accept that we are already complete and perfect.
The Places that Scare You, by Pema Chödrön
JJ Martin, our fellow expat, recommended The Places that Scare You. It is a “guide to fearlessness in difficult times.” The American Buddhist nun first came to us with her best-selling When Things Fall Apart, and with this latest book she advises on cultivating your bodhichitta (“awakened mind” or “enlightened attitude”) with certain ideas of the practice in order to provoke compassion.
“We can let the circumstances of our lives harden us so that we become increasingly resentful and afraid, or we can let them soften us and make us kinder and more open to what scares us. We always have this choice,” says Pema. She continues, “The fear habit, the anger habit, the self-pity habit – all are strengthened and empowered when we continue to buy into them. The most compassionate thing we can do is to interrupt these habits.”
The Gifts of Imperfection, by Brené Brown
Dr. Brown, a research professor, adventures through vulnerability, courage, worthiness and shame and shares ten guideposts on the power of Wholeharted living, in order to feel worthy. In the wake of last week’s high-profile suicides, this notion hits hard. It is sometimes easier said than done, but realizing that “I am enough” is core to us being able to confront the journey that lies ahead of us.
“Wholehearted Living is about engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness. It means cultivating the courage, compassion, and connection to wake up in the morning and think, No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough. It’s going to bed at night thinking, Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging.”
Roki Prunali, Wellness Editor
Anatomy of The Spirit, by Caroline Myss
Illness that we as human beings suffer from is way more complex than the way Western Medicine lays it out. Many people do not agree with me (especially most doctors), but your energy, stress, and diet are major contributors to the illnesses that we develop. I will even go as far to say that changing certain lifestyle patterns and developing the courage to make life-altering decisions can even prevent us from developing diseases and illnesses.
In the Anatomy of the Spirit, Myss gives us a comprehensive guide to energy healing, revealing that hidden stresses, beliefs and attitudes cause illness. With fifteen years of research in energy medicine combined with the wisdom of Hindu, Christian and Kaballah traditions, she tries to teach us to see our body and spirit in a new way, while giving us the tools for spiritual maturity and physical wholeness.
The most powerful scenario that embedded the power of energy healing is when Myss compared two women with cancer. One woman was in a mentally abusive relationship; this woman had developed breast and ovarian cancer. As she points out, this was very telling since the cancer developed in places found in women. Another woman, simply unhappy in her marriage, but too scared to leave her husband out of fear of being alone, developed cancer. This latter woman finally got the strength to leave her toxic relationship and she was cured from cancer, while the other woman passed away months after diagnosis. I am not saying it is as simple as that to cure cancer, but we definitely underestimate the power our energy has on us. We all have a choice, it may not be the easiest to make, but it can be life altering.
Pussy: A Reclamation, by Regena Thomashauer
While working through my anxiety and healing my energy, one of my healers suggested buying this book to help me get unstuck from my current rut. Regena – those who know her better call her Mama Gena – lays out a pathway for us women to no longer be victims and step into our inherent radiance. Mama Gena does not deny that the title may be provocative and may be offensive to some, but it is meant to be a wake up call that the world desperately requires the feminine touch. In no way is this book a dig to men, quite the opposite – with the empowerment she sets forth, you are sure to become only a better partner.
The Blood Sugar Solution 10-Day Detox Diet, by Dr. Mark Hyman
As I mentioned in a previous post, I am enrolled in an Integrative Nutrition course and one of our speakers in the early weeks was Dr. Hyman. Intrigued with what he had to say and the epidemic of obesity in the United States, I eagerly wanted to know more about his proposed solution. Notice that there is no sign of the word “diet” in the title, and that is because this is not a diet. His premise is to eliminate foods, drinks and habits that would spike your blood sugar, but there is no tangible finish line (unlike most detoxes and cleanses). His goal is to introduce you to sustainable health and long-term habits to make sure you remain on the right path.
Debra Brown, Culture Contributor
What I Know For Sure, Oprah Winfrey
Not sure about you all, but I am glued to the TV, podcasts, articles about anything Oprah says. Oprah for president! So, it is only natural that we would want to know what she knows for sure. This book is a collection of small essays taken from her column of the same name in “O, The Oprah Magazine.” Our contributor, Debra, likes to read it slowly, reading a passage or two every day when she wakes up. The book is organized by themes we can all identify with like joy, gratitude, and clarity.
Anything this woman touches turns to gold. There is nothing that she cannot do. Debra is looking forward to reading about the journey that led one of the most powerful and talented women in Hollywood to believing in herself and her purpose. “I am making a lot of big changes in my life this year and I’m hoping that I can identify with her struggles to push me through my own and learn how to ‘dance it out while standing in the sun’ Shonda Rhime’s style,” Debra told me. I know that when I heard Shonda’s podcast with Oprah and recounted about her saying yes to everything (within possibility) for a whole year, I quickly followed suit and made that my 2018 New Year’s Resolution.