Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Train Your Brain

Meditation is the practice of quieting the mind, and cultivating this skill allows us to live fully in the present moment, which is the only one over which we have any influence. The past is gone and unalterable, while the future is mere speculation.

Recently, a reader wrote to share some of the challenges associated with his new meditation practice and request some reading recommendations to might support the process. Here's a cursory collection of books that have served me well in different ways, at different times. Some act as portable therapists imparting sensible wisdom along the way while others sit sage-like on my shelves, eternally highlighted and underscored, as timeless references. Meet your new spiritual entourage:

The Original Life Coach: The Bhagavad Gita, a sacred Indian text that follows the young soldier, Arjuna, into battle under the guidance of Krishna, who explains, "Your own duty done imperfectly is better than another man's done well."

The Peace Prescription: The Miracle of Mindfulness by Thich Nhat Hanh captures the simplicity and pragmatism of meditation.

The Philosopher: The Seat of the Soul by Gary Zukav is distinctly more metaphysical but no less inspiring than the previous two. It's an original and heartfelt commentary on relationships, among other things.

The Healer: A Return to Love by Marianne Williamson is a healing text. For a time, it traveled everywhere with me, and I often shared passages with my students during yoga classes. The author often references A Course in Miracles, but it's not necessary to have read/completed that book in advance.

The Shrink: The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck brought me clarity and courage, just like a good therapist-- and the bill paled in comparison.

The Paramedic: When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron is your lifeboat, antidote, and panic button bound into a book by a Western Buddhist nun. As the title suggests, it's not afraid to address our darkest hours with a refreshing lack of drama. It's forthright, forgiving, and smart. While anyone can learn from it, I find it particularly helpful to those who are grieving in some way.

I welcome your own recommendations. Happy reading!


sarah said...

How about adding THE POET: I adore Mary Oliver (in particular, her poem Wild Geese.

Thanks for the other recommendations!

Om Gal said...

Hi Sarah:
Thanks for the suggestion. Here's a link to Wild Geese for everyone else:

Anonymous said...

I am loving Eckart Tolle's book called A New Earth...
I am learning so much.
Have you read it?
D...the Captain's wife