I’ve always loved reading non-fiction, but to be honest I’ve always felt more comfortable reading about the scientific aspect or mental health. Living with depression and anxiety made me interested in finding ways to heal, but since having a bit of a spiritual awakening as a result of coming out as a lesbian and ending my marriage, I’ve realised that I’ve always been seeking spiritual texts.
There are alot of books that have aided in my spiritual awakening, but these are the three that had a huge impact on me in the first year of my journey. Some of the links are affiliate.
The Way of Integrity: Finding the Path to Your True Self by Martha Beck
This is the book I recommend to everyone I meet, no matter whether they feel like they are on a spiritual path or not. Martha Beck is so great at writing about spirituality in an accessible way, and having grown up in the Mormon church she is the master at pointing out how cultural conditioning is often at odds with who we are destined to become.
The book follows the hero’s journey, so writers will enjoy that, but you certainly don’t need to be a writer or even have any awareness of the framework to understand the concept.
What it does offer though, is a spine that runs through the book, carrying you through the consequences of rejecting your true nature and the rewards that come from embracing her.
I listened to this on audiobook and carried a notebook with me at all times so that I could work through the exercises and journal prompts as they came up. This was by far the most powerful aspect of the book for me, and I worked through a lot of shit over the space of a few weeks.
The biggest outcome for me was releasing the constant need to tell little lies about my desires in order to please other people. I began to notice that I had been holding back in my life in order to fit the mould of what others expect. How many of us are doing this? I bet pretty much EVERYONE and this book can help you see that you have the power to change it.
Loving What Is: Four Questions that can Change Your Life by Byron Katie
Let me start by saying, with kindness, that Byron Katie will not stand for your bullshit. I listened to the audiobook which features a lot of recordings where she is talking people through her 4 question method, and it is fascinating to hear her shatter their perception of reality live on air.
She is what I like to call an empathetic realist. Kind in her words and delivery, she is absolutely here to tell you how it is. And the hard – but potentially freeing – truth is that how you perceive things is merely a construct of your own false storytelling.
I was finding myself consumed by thoughts about what other people thought of me, how my behaviours were affecting them, essentially spending a lot of my time telling myself stories about how my actions were impacting other people and making up these false narratives that in turn, controlled how I lived my life.
Loving What Is made me see that most of the judgements I make about other people is something I need to see in myself. I’m projecting my own story onto others. For example, I would judge people for posting fake happy pictures on Instagram, when I was doing the same. I would be annoyed at a family member for not ‘seeing’ the real me. But was I even truly looking at myself? I worried and worried about my friends adjusting to the new queer me, when really it was me who was struggling the most.
Everyday Zen by Charlotte Joko Beck
This year I started doing yoga three times a week and during the end meditations I began to see visions. Crazy right? It made me super curious about the world of meditating, and when I mentioned this to a friend she recommended this book.
There is no sugar-coating or step-by-step instructions on how to get into meditation in this book so it might be worth downloading a free app like Insight Timer to have a go at some guided meditations before you get started. Otherwise the tone might feel a bit overwhelming.
The biggest lesson I learned from this book was around living in the present. It sounds obvious and easy to do, but once you realise that your brain wants to keep you ruminating in the past or worrying about the future, it becomes clear that we spend very little time truly being present in our own lives.
It’s impossible to be present 24/7. But reading this book taught me how to make the switch into mindfulness more easily, and it’s helped me find joy in the hardest of moments, calmed me during intense train journeys, and allowed me weather out storms knowing that everything in life is trundling along as it should.
Have you read any of these books? Do you have any other books that you would recommend to someone interested in spirituality?