7 Books This Wellness Enthusiast Recommends To Every Spiritual Seeker She Meets
Cover Photo By Erik Almas
By Andrea Bogart
How do you choose the books you read?
What makes one a spiritual seeker?
Everyone has their own perception of spirituality and what it would mean to put our perceptions into action. Being open to self reflection, awareness, growth and how to implement what we learn into our daily lives consistently is spiritual.
My book choices tend to align with the way I journal. I’m personally a seeker of stories and inspiration that feel relatable to my present moment. Often seeking guidance and clarity. When I reflect back and look at my library of books and note when I read what… I chuckle. It’s a glorious timeline of the various chapters of my life. Each book has been; a force, a self-help tool, an escape, a simple pleasure, often motivating and supportive to help me lean into what’s going on in my life at the time. Fortunately most of what I’ve read has cracked me open and pushed me to take a deeper look at myself and connect to something profound that I want to share with others.
START WHERE YOU ARE By Pema Chodron
Several years ago was falling into a dark place of questioning everything. I was using alcohol to mask pain, allowing fear to dictate choices and felt sadness like I’d never experienced. I was hitting a low point and my usual happy self could no longer hide from the what felt like depression for the first time in my life. I was begging for this heavy feeling to just leave my system as it was affecting my mind, body and spirit so negatively. I struggled but knew that change for the better would only come with me taking the steps to get there. I wanted to heal and be anywhere else but where I was.
Then “Start Where You Are” came into my life. Instead of wallowing in shame about what I was going through, this read deeply opened my senses to a powerful, humorous and courageous dance with accepting myself. The notion that I could be right where I am and just simply start there never occurred to me. Hiding vulnerability and pretending I was amazing to the outside world seemed easier. As Pema Chodron delivers tons of beautiful literature that I’ve exponentially grown from, this was my guide to learning about how to reawaken my compassionate heart and to trust in it. This aligned with a calling to practice yoga consistently and the decision to get certified widened my compassion beyond what I thought I was capable of. This feeling of joy was no longer a place to reach or something to acquire it was being cultivated in my daily life and shared so effortlessly with all beings. This kind of awakening with-in is undeniably a special feeling that inspires you to revel in being a spiritual human.
RISING STRONG by Brené Brown
I was first introduced to Brené Brown via a her TED talk "The Power Of Vulnerability" which circulated all over social media and 32,698,360 people have viewed. The more I listen, read and take-in what Brené is sharing, I am having an experience that triggers the undeniable enthusiasm to live at my greatest potential. As a yoga instructor, I honor the responsibility of wanting to learn, love and share in a way that just may inspire you in the way others are inspiring me. Leaders like Brené, dedicating themselves to research that speaks to the masses invites you into a place where you truly understand you are not alone in this game of life. Gosh that feels good, doesn’t it?
How many times have you exhausted yourself with acting out your feelings in a way that you later regret? You say something you can't take back, you raise your voice, you cause a scene, you hurt someone's feelings, your thoughts are literally draining you as negativity overpowers the positive. Seeing, believing and accepting the good gets blurred by old stories, bad habits and self doubt. If you're human you've experienced this at some point— I certainly have. You’ve also probably been way too hard on yourself about these behaviors convincing yourself you are damaged, awful and not worthy. When do we decide enough is enough? How do we wake up and prepare ourselves for the muck we're going to wade through to grow into a healthier place? Everyone's path is different, there is no question. I implore you to get curious and use great resources as tools to guide you not to run, hide or dismiss who you are but bravely face your fears, weakness & faults and open your heart more and more. Rising Strong will empower you and lay compassion and vulnerability right on the table with offerings that gives us all permission to lean into ourselves with a deep sense of awareness and rise strong.
THE ONE THING By Gary Keller and Jay Papasan
According to the Author of The One Thing, "Since the 1920’s the word multitasking has existed but it wasn’t until the 1960’s that it was being used to describe computers, not something the human race did.”
For years I’ve owned being able to multitask like it was a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow, truly believing I was efficient in doing many things at once. Thankfully several resources including helpful literature like, “The One Thing”, meditation and yoga have all inspired me to see how ineffective multitasking actually is. Prior to this read I felt challenged with being singularly focused, continuously catching myself having several things going at once over and over again. There is brilliant take-away in a book that supports putting your habits and your goals in perspective and can thrust you into a place of productivity.
We want results. We want to feel amazing about getting multiple things done, achieving goals… but in order of importance not scrambling them together like your best breakfast omelette, right? So how do we redirect our energy into doing one thing at a time? We practice. This might mean catching yourself again and again, but with that you create awareness around the things you want to change and results start to take effect. I love the juggler analogy The One Thing uses; "even a juggler, catches one ball at a time." What a helpful way to take your goals from a wide lens to a narrow focus instead of going for all you want to achieve at once. You’ll find clarity in this tremendous read and discover how to connect with doing one thing at a time. My hope is that you too will enjoy more of the art of this rather than beat yourself up for trying to continue as a habitual, inefficient multi-tasker. When you get clear and present with the way you work by prioritizing, that leads to greater productivity which lands you in the results you’re working towards.
I appreciate how the book guides one into the process of breaking down the big picture to that narrowed idea. Asking; what is the one thing I can do this year to better myself—to what is the one thing this month I can do to better myself— to what is the one thing I can do right now to better myself. As you ask yourself these questions you keep getting deeper into the one thing.
THE HAPPINESS ADVANTAGE By Shawn Achor
Learning the concept of reprogramming our brains is just fabulous to me, considering we all have parts of ourselves we are still learning to clap for, escape from or accept. “The Happiness Advantage” invites us to look at how we have the ability to create a happier life by the power of positive psychology. Thinking less about how to attain happiness through our success, material things, status, etc. but yet how to gratefully live it more mindfully.
As an actress, I often struggle with feeling my sense of purpose meaning I have to be working on set, making money, people pleasing everyone, building a career where my name is recognized and the rejection of not doing any one of these things would leave me in a state of panic, having anxiety and sense of being unworthy; i.e. unhappy. By nature I am a seeker of how to stay positive and uplifted in the dooms of what rejection can often make me feel like, but I’m human too and just as everyone does, I grapple with the demons at times. This book served as a delightful tool to understand the process of shifting our mindset with wonderful examples of case studies and humor motivating me to explore my thoughts with intentions and how to improve social & work relationships. Much of our learned behavior requires us taking a different approach which in-turn can lead lead us to maximize our greatest potential if we’re willing to put in the work. And I say “of course we are, right?” Don’t miss out on the book club discussion guide to put what you connect to the most into practice. Two years ago when I read “The Happiness Advantage” I wanted to do Shawn’s recommendation of choosing something you would like to do for 21 days and create a habit. This jump started a consistent meditation practice for me and I began journaling three gratitudes a day and haven’t stopped. Not long into these new habits I met the love of my life, the father of our newborn baby girl and soon to be my husband. It’s more than just a read… it can be a game changer. It’s up to you.
BIG MAGIC By Elizabeth Gilbert
It’s not an easy job to wake up everyday and pride yourself with enough gusto to begin, continue or finish a project your investing your heart in. The struggle is real with resistance and writhing ourselves with angst often attaching unnecessary melodrama to our process of creating. Elizabeth Gilbert delightfully reassures us we are all creative beings that behold a treasure chest full of jewels and it's up to us to decide which of our precious stones will be revealed throughout life. With an honest perspective bedazzled in a no bullshit demeanor, I laughed out loud multiple times. Humbled from being able to relate, not only to her experiences, but the examples of many, recognizing my own patterns and behaviors that get in the way and can bring my process to a screeching halt. I have journals of children's literature ideas and stories written from 2009 to the present that sadly I’ve never pushed myself to execute further, until now. In 2012 I started writing the phrase, “start your blog,” regularly on to-do lists. After spending three years redundantly researching “how to start a blog,” I finally launched Inspirational Addict in 2015. I love writing more than ever and don’t make a dime from it… yet and that doesn’t matter. Since recently becoming a new mom, I’m inspired to recommit to my children’s stories and work toward getting published. My sense of wonder and excitement has a stronger foundation since I got my hands on this lovely read, reinstating my passion for simply creating.
How many of you have ideas that you sit on for years and sometimes never follow through because of fear of rejection and self doubt? One of the best self-motivating tools I’ve acquired in my journey is curiosity, which Gilbert talks in depth on. Curiosity gives us great insight to inspiration and tests how far we are willing to stretch ourselves into the unknown with acceptance of whatever results we end up with. This read, reminded us to, “for the love of God, create for the sake of creating”. It brings me great joy because let’s face it, with today’s social media platforms everyone seems to be a photographer, blogger, storyteller etc. and comparing yourself by means of self-destruction rather than inspiration, will destroy your process for sure. We don’t need permission to be creative and authentic, we GET to be. So as “Big Magic” graciously honors the creator everyone, I’m alongside Ms. Gilbert, encouraging us to listen and pay and attention as ideas guide us to places that ignite our souls and push forth with confidence into the things we love wholeheartedly.
MEDITATIONS FROM THE MAT By Rolf Gates and Katrina Kenison
There are several great yoga books out there and with more than 36 million Americans said to be practicing, I’m inclined to recommend this one. Yoga has significantly been the most influential thing that has shifted my life into an overall place of wellness. The way one can transform and take all that is revealed on the mat into their everyday lives shines light into just how so. Gates and Kenison ability to share common experiences and describe how we can apply the principles of our yoga practice to them, is undeniably beautiful. As I felt a calling to practice yoga consistently I listened. I was committed to budgeting my finances and carving out time for my practice because, frankly, no excuse could keep me off my mat. That’s when I knew transformation was happening. The shift for me physically, mentally and spiritually was powerful & healing and continues to bring abundance to my life in many forms. Although this would have been a great book to get my hands as I began my journey and got certified, I’m actually glad I’ve worked through it more recently. I’m in love with evolving as a practitioner and instructor and this book reminds me so.
Often I am on-the-go and find full length books can take me awhile to get through. For that, I love these daily reads that give you a snit-bit of intellect and heart openers to drizzle into your purposeful day. I have grown immensely from reading a little bit everyday and discovered how a little can go a long way. With meditation offerings and the foundations of yoga being a guiding light, anyone curious about yoga or looking to deepen their connection to the practice will benefit greatly from this inspiring read. I implore everyone, especially instructors to maintain your sense of wonder and absorb as much as you can about yoga and it’s incredible benefits; mind, body and spirit. I’ll be right by your side with a big smile and a happy, healthy heart.
IN DEFENSE OF FOOD By Michael Pollan
If you’re not incredibly curious about our nation's food industry yet, can I invite you to be? With more and more independent filmmakers producing food documentaries raising eyebrows and a plethora of information available… although resourceful, often one is left feeling confused about what we should actually eat. Pollan tackles this very question and sheds light on our confusion being at the hand of marketers, journalist and scientists who often have much to gain by our uncertainty. Can we as consumers take responsibility to educate ourselves and do the best we can for the life we want to live? I say “absolutely.” I’m with Pollan, who simply says, “avoid food that your great-great grandparents wouldn’t eat.” I giggle as I imagine my great grams asking, what is a go-gurt or a lunchable.
I grew up in the midwest, eating everything. As a baby I had a severe allergy to dairy and wheat but my parents were encouraged to give me a normal diet through my adolescence so I wouldn’t develop reactions to everything containing the two. That all worked out fine until those allergies came back in my early thirties and the development of an autoimmune disorder caused me to investigate what the heck I was doing wrong nutritionally. I’m constantly seeking out information in this arena now due to all the major diseases people are acquiring. Far too many are losing their quality of life and even more severe; dying from these diseases. I’ve mentioned it before but practicing yoga propelled me to get interested in how I could proactively make healthier choices for leading a life filled with vitality. Organic food has been one of my greatest healers. This read helped me make sense of why all the sneaky worded, so called healthy sounding things are actually quite toxic and gain clarity on how to get back to food from its original state, ie. organic. Thanks to food labeling we have a choice to steer clear of the products containing GMOs, pesticides and too many ingredients you can’t pronounce, which I encourage. We’re so mislead it’s no wonder child and adult obesity are a huge problem in America. We will see a shift when we the consumers speak up and stop buying the things that are so terrible for us. I concur with Mr. Pollan that we need to nurture our relationship with food in a way that our ancestors would and simplify our approach into enjoying real food again.
These 5 books resonated with me at various points in my life. I hope at least one will inspire you not to lose sight of your ever-evolving self. You never know what resources, teachers and experiences will motivate you through your journey and it may take some challenges to realize you’ve begun your spiritual path. I can look back and see now how helpful these books have been in my quest to start visualizing the life I wanted and how I would place myself in the world to be more open, kind and loving to all beings... including myself.