As a yoga teacher, some of my favorite questions to receive from students center around the philosophy of yoga, the spirit practice, which is the point of it all anyway. I often get asked what books I’d suggest. There are many in the yogic realm that I read while in training and those I’ve read since per the recommendations of others. Of course the Upanishads, The Bhagavad Gita, and the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali are 3 musts, in particular if you’re delving deep into the practice and seek information as well as truth. For fun, to delight your soul, challenge your mind and enliven your heart, I’d take you on a journey that will pique your interest, surprise you and also enlighten you to the same revelations as the traditional texts. There are many more than five, but here’s a few of my favorites:
This book is fantastic in short and long spurts, meaning you can take it on your commute, read a few passages before bed, or sit in a coffee shop for hours making notes in the margins. There are 366 lessons for each day in the Gregorian calendar. Naturally, each word of wisdom can be applied any day, any time, any season, because all we have is Now. So many stick out for me and I’ll very often read some of these gems to my students and design an intention around the insight gleaned. In a lesson from April 5th, the author Mark Nepo surmises “ As a seed buried in the earth cannot imagine itself as an orchid or hyacinth, neither can a heart packed with hurt imagine itself loved or at peace.” This beautiful string of words points to the truth of surrender, trusting we will blossom without knowing how, when, or where.
Beyond Presence and moving beyond thought, the genuine truth of almost every spiritual teaching is Love. Cliche as it might be, Love is, indeed, all you need. What is so exquisite about practicing Yoga and walking this path is the recognition that love is born, brewed, extracted and exuded from us and us alone. It is not to be given and taken away. It simply is. You are. I am. Rumi’s book of poetry showcases the real beauty of Love, in self, life and others.
From Chapter 4: Sudden Wholeness:
This moment this love comes to rest in me, many beings in one being.
In one wheat grain a thousand sheaf stacks.
Inside the needle’s eye, a turning night of stars.
Osho’s philosophy on a modern way of living a contented life has struck a chord among many on their path to enlightenment. In this 2004 publication, we learn of the complexities involved in carving genuine intelligence, and how the sharpening of our intellect is only one small piece of the awakened puzzle. In less than 200 pages, we learn about the significance of applying our knowledge rather than concerning ourselves with what and how much we’re cramming in. Intelligence involves a balanced, thoughtful combination of responses to information and insight we’ve already absorbed, so that our impending decisions and interactions reflect outward a creative, kind and wise inner reality that is inclusive, open and engaging.
“Knowledge can be given to you, not intelligence. Intelligence is your own sharpened being.” ~Osho
Dr. Taylor’s recollection of her 1996 stroke is as fascinating as it is enlightening. Back in 2008 she was featured on the Oprah show. She recounted the hours, days and weeks as a brain scientist watching the left hemisphere of her brain slowly shut down, and miraculously, gradually repair itself as well. Not only did I learn a great deal about how each side of the brain works while discovering the intricacies of my own mind, I fell in love with the right hemisphere. I grew up athletic, studious, mathematically and linguistically inclined, organized, headstrong, and detail oriented. There’s nothing wrong with these descriptors, and through the practice of Yoga I’ve realized they’re just that, words to describe personality tendencies. They do not need to imprison me in a label, nor do they need to relegate me to only left hemisphere strength. What is glorious about our brains is the left side houses our egos, our past, and stories about ourselves, as well as other useful tools. And the right is our bigger picture consciousness, our love, our energy perception, our presence. This little book empowered me to not only love and appreciate the brain I’ve been dealt, but also recognize my own control in how I perceive others, events, and the universe in its totality.
This stellar composition by Tolle has become somewhat of a “bible” for me, a book that reflects my intended way of life. Without guidelines, guilt, or ceremony, this book beautifully points us to the most purely simple truths in a direct and honest way. The application is the most challenging part, should you feel compelled to progress in the way each chapter inspires. Nearly a decade after The Power of Now, A New Earth takes us deep within the inner workings of the ego, human pain, the prison that is psychological time, and how to break free from it all and live daily in peace and presence. Just as yoga’s widespread goal is to calm the fluctuations of the mind, A New Earth aims to inform and encourage the same freedom, so we can all flow beautifully in the spacious awareness that we are, one with the rhythms of the universe.