Like millions of others across the globe, the pandemic and its lockdown measures hit me very hard over the course of last year. To cope, I latched onto cooking, reading, and meditation. I have found that rituals are very helpful in times of uncertainty — they ground you in something real to do every single day and provide you with a checklist marker. Meditation in particular has become my go-to spiritual practice. But, like so many, I’ve struggled with it. Somewhere along the many months that followed the outbreak last year, I lost my motivation to keep up with my self-prescribed spiritual practice. If I couldn’t find the energy to get off the couch, I didn’t want to meditate. I needed help to enhance my mindfulness practice — something to keep me both motivated and inspired.
Keeping a book that I can read every morning before I meditate has been somewhat of a gift. I discovered that daily readings, especially those focused on spiritual practice, have enhanced my meditation practice, particularly A Year of Miracles, the daily devotional book by Marianne Williamson. For 365 days, you read a short passage and say a mantra. Each day is different and can focus on everything from forgiveness to love, changing one's perspective to taking accountability for your actions.
Colorado based writer, yoga instructor, and spiritual teacher Mary Beth LaRue says that for her, “books offer inspiration and insight that I can then incorporate into my meditation practice.” LaRue attests to the importance of having guidance through reading, adding, “for instance with Mark Nepo's The Book of Awakening there's a piece to read daily with questions to ponder. This helps me dive into my practice with more interest than just sitting there.”
In a yoga class, it is not uncommon for the instructor to read a passage at the end of the flow, and right before a meditation. Passages that are read from books often allow the meditator to sit and deliberate each breath alongside each thought. In doing so, one is forced to slow down, quietly detaching from anything that might be burdensome or obsessive.
Mindfulness is the gift that keeps on giving, yet it must be nurtured and attended to. Asked what might be some of the blocks and barriers that one might face when developing a daily practice during these pandemic times, LaRue responds with, “thinking that one’s practice has to be perfect or that they aren't doing it right or for long enough. As I know from experience, sitting with ourselves in quiet can seem overwhelming when such big things are happening in our world and perhaps inside of us.”
The solution? Simpler than one would expect, but maybe harder in practice: “My advice is to do a little, often, and to see where that takes you,” LaRue says. And if books could take you anywhere, here are five titles that just might enhance your daily meditation practice, or any other ritual you hold near and dear.
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Books On Meditation & Mindfulness: Moon Bath, Bathing Rituals and Recipes for Relaxation and Vitality
Rights, rituals, and relaxation. Who wouldn’t want to spend some time developing simple routines to follow, as well as learning how our physical and metaphysical universe affects our well-being? A joint project by Dakota Hills and Sierra Brashear, the book is structured around the lunar cycle and brings together daily bathing rituals that incorporate essential oils, salts, and affirmations — each with a chance to do some journaling. The experience is one that can assist in centering and reclaiming physical calm during chaotic moments.
Books On Meditation & Mindfulness: Inward
A collection of inspiring and thoughtful reflections Inward gives the reader a chance to work through everything from forgiveness to self-esteem, love, and surrender. Each passage, sometimes just a line or two, is deeply introspective, providing an opportunity for one to meditate on some of life's greatest mysteries. Yung Pueblo has since become a spiritual social media pioneer with many of his writings being re-shared and garnering millions of followers to boot.
Books On Meditation & Mindfulness: Wild Mercy
Proclaimed as a book to help in awakening the feminine mystique within, this work is a production of spiritual teacher and author Mirabi Starr who believes that feminine wisdom has cut across cultural boundaries and has been growing for some time now, ready to be unleashed. Encouraging the reader to explore feminine mysticism through a series of stories and reflections of women who have channeled their divine calling to foster healing, learning, and compassion, Wild Mercy is a tribute to the wisdom of women — a book that calls for deep contemplation and a new perspective.
Books On Meditation & Mindfulness: All About Love
We’ve all been there. A thought, a feeling, a disappointment, and even an epiphany of how we perceive love. In this classic piece of work by activist and author Bell Hooks, the reader can meditate on Hooks’ persuasive anecdotes regarding healing and creating a way forward. In these fraught times of isolation, confusion, and even sadness, we may find ourselves looking for guidance on how to separate what we see and what we believe to be true. All About Love is a meditator’s blueprint for compassion and reconciliation — a timeless piece that will be read generation after generation.