Top 5 Books That Will Hug Your Soul

Photo by Ben White

“I read a book one day and my whole life was changed.” – Orhan Pamuk

I was recently asked by a friend, to recommend a book that would help her develop a sense of the true nature of the soul and how she can access this wellspring of wisdom and heart-knowledge. My collection of “soul inspiring” books is as wide and expansive as the soul itself, so I narrowed the field to my Top 5 Books That Will Hug Your Soul. I’ve chosen each book because of the way it brings its own unique approach to how we can get a little closer to knowing that elusive inner voice that is our soul.

After much soul searching, here are Five of my favourites and why.

Image: Amazon UK

1. Anam Caraby John O’Donohue.  

Poet, philosopher and scholar, O’Donohue was the ultimate ‘Soul Whisperer’. His magical use of language, storytelling and Celtic Mysticism helps seekers make “the invisible …become visible”. Sadly, O’Donohue died suddenly, in 2008, leaving a gaping hole in the lives of his dedicated followers. Thankfully, he left a rich body of work including Anam Cara, Gaelic for ‘Soul Friend’. Many writers try to use the mind to reach the soul, but O’Donohue’s use of Celtic wisdom, allows direct access to the inner sanctum. Your soul will find a friend in this exceptional book. 

Image: Amazon.com

2. After the Ecstasy, the Laundry by Jack Kornfield.

Buddhist monk, psychologist, and author of the equally profound book, A Path With Heart, Kornfield offers another insightful book that helps us find equilibrium after we reach states of grace and enlightenment. Kornfield explores how we can return to our earthly and often mundane chores whilst maintaining our heightened states of awareness. This book is for anyone who can’t live a hermit’s life, but seeks to bring soul-inspired living, into their everyday lives, even whilst doing the laundry. 

Image: AbeBooks

3. Kitchen Table wisdom by Rachel Naomi Remen.

Physician Rachel Naomi Remen discovered how stories have the power to heal both through her work as a doctor and as a patient. Using the kitchen table idea of sharing our collective stories, she encourages us to embrace mystery, to form stronger connections to each other and to live a soul-inspired life. Using her patients’ true stories, and sharing her own challenges with a chronic illness, Remen shares with us many remarkable journeys of discovery, and of unexpected paths that lead to inner strength, courage and peace, often, when it was least expected.

Image: Brene Brown

4. Daring Greatlyby Brene Brown.

Following the stupendous success of her Ted Talk and book, ‘The gifts of imperfection’, Brown gifts us with another soul expanding gem, ‘Daring Greatly. She believes that exposing our authentic selves may feel difficult, even dangerous, but living on the outside of our potential is worse. Brown says we need to embrace vulnerability and “step into the arena”, tap into our souls to find meaning and purpose, and dare to live our best life possible. I love this book because without courage, we cannot overcome our limiting beliefs, and access our soul’s potential.

Image: Eckhart Tolle

5. The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle.

This extraordinary book tells of Tolle’s journey from a state of depression and fear to fully awakened state, after he experienced a profoundly transformative event after his 29thBirthday. A decade later, Tolle finally understood the experience and developed his new philosophy and understanding about the mind and human consciousness. Embracing the teachings of masters like the Buddha and Jesus, Tolle helps us identify the false self and shows us how we can all access our deepest and most authentic self and free ourselves of self-inflicted pain and live a life, free of illusion. 

Shopping for Enlightenment

Image from http://www.sheknows.com

I always thought spiritual enlightenment sprung itself unannounced during long meditative retreats, drum beating workshops or arduous vision quests, but for me, it was the fluro-illuminated isles of a supermarket that lit the light of insight.

I used to hate supermarket shopping, the repetitiveness of it dulled my brain.   While I love food, the thought of having to push a cold metal basket with directionally opposing wheels frustrated me, it seemed like a time waster, a chore and a bore.  Something you just had to tolerate.  One day, life gave my own trolley (body) a heavy push in the opposite direction to which I thought I was travelling.  The push was a gift in the form of a sudden bout of very poor health, and with it, my view of supermarket shopping, and other similarly “mundane” tasks suddenly changed, they became highly coveted chores.

The Gift of Illness

How is being ill a gift?  Because being sick for almost three months straight, helped me learn  the art of appreciation. I know three months is nothing compared to the long-term illnesses faced by many, but it wasn’t the duration but the severity of the confinement that had me take notice. Bed and house ridden for weeks on end, I was unable to do more than sit up to sip soup and wait for the sun to set on what I thought was another empty, and completely wasted, precious day;  where nothing was achieved other than being able to say I made it through another 24 hours.

Image: galleryhip.com
Image: galleryhip.com

It was during the darker moments, you know, home alone while the rest of the world buzzed away in never-ending hives of activity, that I had my own buzzy Aha! moment.  I suddenly coveted  those previously dull and repetitive activities like ironing, washing and yep, the once dreaded supermarket shopping.

Small achievements are important milestones

When getting out of bed is the greatest achievement of each day, a simple, previously annoying activity like supermarket shopping suddenly becomes a highly desired goal.  A sign of progress, little signposts showing you’ve made it from bedroom, to lounge room, from indoors, to outdoors, from home, to shop.  Progress, no matter how small, is progress.

Image: healthblog.dallasnews.com
Image:healthblog.dallasnews.com

Forget visualising sitting on a tropical beach eating coconuts, all I wanted was the familiarity of a visit to my local supermarket, a place where I could be “normal” and not that sick woman, hidden from the world.  A place where I could smile at the friendly checkout staff, and know that when asked how my day was,  I would reply with an overenthusiastic, “Brilliant!” and really, really mean it.

Suddenly, I felt joy at the prospect of gliding down each aisle, marvelling at the 20 plus varieties of crisps, or the ingenuousness of Banana flavoured milk, which contains only 1% banana and yet, can still be labelled Banana Milk. I would nod approvingly at the precision with which heavily laden shelves are stocked with the useful and the useless. I’d smile like an idiot at other robotic shoppers, carrying out the “dreaded chore”, but wanting to stop and say, “Hey, you should enjoy this because you don’t know how awful it is to have it  taken away from you”.  I’ve realised that to be able to do even the most mundane of chores really is a privilege.

So my first return visit to the supermarket called for some skipping past the pasta and a twirl into the table salt, ending with a backward twist and the skilful throw of a cereal box, landing smack in the middle of the trolley.  OK, it landed in someone else’s trolley but the look of bemusement on the shopper’s face made it all worth while.  At least, I’d awoken them temporarily from their dreary, repetitive chore. It made me realise that with appreciation, our everyday tasks, even the seemingly mundane, can be as precious as those more eventful moments in our lives.  It’s all about perspective.

Image: idonotno.com
Image: idonotno.com

So what did I learn in the supermarket aisle of enlightenment? I learnt that a chore need no longer be a bore when you think you will do it no more!  And finally, my advice is next time you go supermarket shopping, give thanks that you can, because there are so many people who simply can’t.

gratitude