Books and Resources

Books of 2015

I’m so excited to share my favourite books of 2015 with you! I’ve been hard at work on my new website (I hope you like it!), and have gotten behind on posts. Better later than never, as they say. 

As I compiled my list of favourite books for 2015, I realized that fiction has completely disappeared from my new line-up shelf. I was not expecting that! If you’re curious, check out the list of 2014

Tantric Yoga and the Wisdom Goddesses by Dr. David Frawley

Every year I add one of David Frawley’s books to my reference shelf. In 2015, his work on the ten Mahavidyas swept me off my feet. I keep going back to it over and over. I love how detailed and concise his compilations are. Here, he covers the whole range, from mantras to yantras. Now, if he could fulfill his wish for a whole book on Tripura Sundari… 

The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer

You may have come across Amanda’s amazing TEDtalk, or you may know her from her punk rock music, or via her prolific husband, writer Neil Gaiman. Her talk rocked my world, and so did her book. It’s hard enough to ask, but it may be harder still to receive. If 2015 has given me one lesson, it’s this one: for some of us, giving is a lot easier than receiving. There is vulnerability in receiving, but there is also grace, trust, and connection. Amanda Palmer does a great job at putting all of it in perspective by sharing her own stories of discomfort, refusal, misunderstandings. It felt like she was talking to me, directly. A great read!

We make countless choices every day whether to ask or to turn away from one another. Wondering whether it’s too much to ask the neighbour to feed the cat. The decision to turn away from a partner, to turn off the light instead of asking what’s wrong.

Asking for help requires authenticity, and vulnerability.

Those who ask without fear learn to say two things: with or without words, to those they are facing:

I deserve to ask

And

You are welcome to say no.

Because the ask that is conditional cannot be a gift.
— Amanda Palmer

Meditation for the Love of It by Sally Kempton

This book is more about falling in love with meditation than about learning to meditate. Sally Kempton has a powerful yet understated way of appealing to the receptive part of us waiting to be embraced and loved. Meditation is not a linear process, and it certainly is not a one-size-fits-all approach. This book provides a wide range of experiential techniques, as well as guidelines to stay on track. This is a wonderful read if you’re experiencing a falling-out with your practice. 

Timeless Healing: The Power and Biology of Belief by Dr. Herbert Benson

If I write that Dr. Benson’s research is uncovering what we always knew, you’ll think it’s useless. But that’s exactly what he’s doing, and he’s helping the modern homo scientificus that we have become make peace with the fact that we are first and foremost feeling and believing beings. Dr. Benson was a pioneer in the research on the relaxation response in the 70s, and he has since made great strides in demonstrating that relaxation can be used as an actual healing method. In Timeless Healing, he explores the relationship between healing and beliefs. I needed to read this book to understand that my beliefs have a direct impact on my wellbeing and on my ability to recover. It was about time!

Yoga of the Nine Emotions by Peter Marchand

This book came recommended by Julia (find her at thetalsam.com). I really didn’t know what to expect. Within the first few pages, I knew I’d learn something and that it wasn’t all a waste of time and resources. By the 100th page, I knew I’d never deal with my emotions and those of others the same way. Rasas, or emotions, are powerful teachers. Learning to experience them without judgement can actually free us from our own limitations. The author even explores sadhana, practices, that can help us engage deeply with our feelings in a systematic exploratory manner. Although Joy and Love rasas may seem like the ideal emotions, I’m completely in awe of Wonder right now. I remember the child within.

Books of 2014

Here are the books that gave the tone to my year in 2014. 

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

Hubby surprised me with a hardcover copy of this precious pile of words. My magic realism fetish is always in orgasmic awe with Neil Gaiman. Both the child and adult in me were delighted by this treasure of complex simplicity, and friendship. 

Lettie shrugged. ‘Nobody actually looks like what they really are on the inside. You don’t. I don’t. People are much more complicated than that. It’s true of everybody.’
— Neil Gaiman

The Secret of the Yoga Sutra by Pandit Rajmani Tigunait

A major part of my year was devoted to the study of the Yoga Sutras. This year alone, I read four different renderings of this ancient text, none of which were as clear as Panditji’s book. Granted, this work only covers the first chapter. Edwin Bryant’s rendering wins the all-inclusive, most-exhaustive rendering, while Matthew Remski’s Threads of Yoga wins as the most subversive and thought-provoking.  

The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert

I picked this book up while stranded at the airport. It took the blues and impatience away within the first few pages. What a gripping tale! In a nutshell, the life and extraordinary endeavours of Alma Whittaker took me all around the world, at a time when women really didn’t have many options. Alma defied all the rules, almost unknowingly, and that’s what makes her such an amazing protagonist. So so well-written and researched. I renewed with my love for historical novels. 

Yoga and Ayurveda by David Frawley

Here’s a book that deserves to be on the reference shelf. If there were such a thing, this would be the all-dressed book of ayurveda and yoga. It will get you started and well-prepared to keep up with your yogi-talk, and provide you with some valuable practices and knowledge to cultivate balance and well-being. 

Awakening Shakti by Sally Kempton

Now this is a book I keep going back to. I love the stories of the Goddesses, and everything they represent. I regularly have flings with some of them. Each one of the Goddesses chosen by Sally Kempton in this book has great gifts for the modern woman. We are a sum total of them all, and each one supports us in different ways and at different times in our life. Sarasvati supports my writing, while Dhumavati reminds me to surrender and embrace what will be. Durga gives me strength and courage, while Tripura reminds me that women can be both fierce and beautiful.

What Do You Gain from Being the Person Who Can't?

I’ll be damned if you don’t struggle with Resistance like I do (and I’d like to know how you do it). I’m talking about the Resistance that talks negative in your head, and tells you it’s not worth trying because it’ll be too much work, it won’t lead to anything, others will laugh or judge you. I’m talking about the Resistance that keeps you from attaining your goals, making your dreams come true, and cultivating santosha right here and now.

In I don’t want to, I don’t feel like it, Cheri Huber and Ashwini Narayanan tackle this unhelpful and contradictory trait of human beings. Deep down, most of us know what we want and need that will support our wellbeing and happiness, yet we constantly allow ourselves to be sidetracked. We genuinely believe that we can’t, that it’s impossible to find contentment and happiness given the current conditions. Some day, some day…

Resistance disguises itself in many forms. For me, it’s the distraction from writing, like Facebook or just another phone call, it’s the urgent need to pee that lifts me off my meditation cushion, it’s fear of failure, it’s the million chores that seem more important than exercising or cooking a healthy meal, it’s saying yes even when I meant no. Resistance will keep you from focusing on what is really important, it will taunt you with an easy solution.
Whatever your goals, dreams or needs, there is only one person who can make it happen. And that person cannot be the one that allows Resistance to take over.
“Look to see what you get as a result of remaining the person who can’t. There is a payoff for everything we do and don’t do. What is the payoff for continuing to be a person who can’t?”
The authors nailed it straight with this question. How is it that you benefit from your Resistance? Is it protection? Are you avoiding confrontation? Is it easier to continue with the daily mindless grind, than to stop and think, and do it differently? That question, in and of itself, has helped me overcome some manifestations of my Resistance, and I hope it can help you too.

About I don’t want to, I don’t feel like it: How Resistance Controls Your Life and What to Do About It by Cheri Huber and Ashwini Narayanan
This book is the latest in a series by Cheri Huber. I loved reading it. The chapters are brief and simple. There is no esoteric nonsense about the approach, which is grounded in buddhist zen teachings. It offers simple strategies and questions to get to the root of resistance and to stop sabotaging your own efforts.
This book was a gift from the inspirational Anna, who dares to be authentic and follows her dharma, even if it’s not the easiest way. So so grateful our paths met.