~I don't read books like most normal people. I am a slow reader and I adore lingering with a book for a while rather than rushing to the next one. I also don't necessarily read the "latest" book to come out. So most of the books on this list were probably not published in 2012, some are even a decade or more older, but, they are not dated. These books run the gamut on subjects, from a meditation on meditation, to a meditation on fashion, from healing the womb to the power of fasting. And, even if the publisher or author does not consider it a spirituality book, I do, for I found deep spiritual meaning in each of them. These were the books that brought me much joy and wisdom in 2012.
Care of the Soul:
A Guide for Cultivating Depth and Sacredness in Everyday Life
By Thomas Moore
I was enchanted by this exquisite book. It was published in 1994. I found it at a flea market in Saratoga Springs in March of 212 for a dollar. It's one of my treasures.
Moore's beautiful ode to humanity and the everyday soulful human experience in spirit and body is truly magnificent. He runs through history and examines love, pleasure, body, sweeping and mopping floors. Soulfulness in every word. Really!
He writes about love in this way: "it may be useful to consider love less as an aspect of relationship and more as an event of the soul. The emphasis is on what love does to the soul. Does it bring a broader vision? Does it initiate the soul in some way? Does it carry the lover from earth to an awareness of divine things?" Well, this book did exactly that for me. It carried me to another place, where I stand today with a grander view of life, where I find deep meaning in the tiny things that before went unnoticed, from from doing my laundry to making tea-- it's all soulful and, yes, more meaningful. Thank you Thomas Moore for a beautiful book.
"Sex at Dawn: How We Mate, Why We Stray, and What it Means for Modern Relationships"
Christopher Ryan & Cacilda Jetha
If you are stuck on conventional views of sex and relationships, ie monogamy and marriage to one person till death do you part, this brilliant book may not be for you. But if you have been curious to understand about why men and women would risk careers, children, reputations, good healthy relationships and have affairs, girl, this book is for you. Authors Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jetha are bold and genius bringing together years of research on love, sex and relationships at the dawn of man (foragers,) and throughout the ages in various parts of the world. They examine the data with intelligence and openness and without prejudices, ie trying to find monogamy in the animal species to prove that monogamy is nature. They lay the raw facts bare...
Because they are witty and delicious writers the book is too worth a ready. I loved learning about the fascinating community of people in China, the Mosuo, where more than 50,000 men and women live in complete "sexual freedom and autonomy for both men and women, where openly expressed jealousy for them is considered aggressive in its implied intrusion upon the sacred autonomy of another person, and is thus met with ridicule and shame."
The authors conclude the obvious that most of us have been in denial about: monogamy goes against human nature and trying to live within the strict constraints of it will cause much pain and hurt not just to the couple but the children. I've had to sit with their views and well presented research and analysis and find meaning and application to this in my life. I am still processing it but I happened to be reading it when Gen. Petreus was caught with his pants down bedding his biographer, also married. I understood the back story of the sordid affair thanks to this book. It's worth reading and talking about it with your beloved.
Catching The Big Fish: Meditation, Consciousness, and Creativity
The famed director and Transcendental Meditation enthusiast's book is a meditation on creativity. Written is small spurts, it's a simple peek into Lynch's creative process and wildly imaginative mind. His films and projects are seemingly odd and dark and yet there is so much light and beauty to his process it's almost unbelievable that the two are connected. But he reminds us that shadows and darkness are as essential as the light that wakes us up in the mornings.
He writes: All religions flow ultimately to the one ocean. Transcendental Meditation is a technique to experience that ocean, and it's a technique practiced by people from all religions. Transcendental Meditation itself is not a religion--it's not against any religion.
Roots of Style: Weaving Together Life, Love and Fashion
I love this book and I am a little biased. I know the talented author and her equally talented husband and got to know them a little bit while the book was being birthed. While superficially this book is about fashion design and Isabel's creative process, if you read between the lines, you will understand the deeper meaning: being in tune with the divine within is connected to fashion, and really all creative acts. Toledo journeys through various stages of her life, from her childhood in Cuba to her young life in West New York, to her life with Ruben to the moment she dressed First Lady Michelle Obama for the inauguration in 2008.
She writes: "I like to feel the psychology of a garment which may change as I wear it in different ways..."
Think about that for a second: Toledo is in tune with fabric, she feels it, and lets it do what the garment wants. She gets that as a designer she is the vessel and never forces a fabric to do what it doesn't want. What an honest and pure approach to fashion design and just creating anything in general. Fashion from Isabel Toledo's perspective is purely a spiritual process. As an added bonus, the book is illustrated by Ruben.
Sacred Contracts: Awakening your Divine Potential
By Caroline Myss
Myss, a intuitive, or as my people would say in Spanish, an espiritista or bruja, writes beautifully about all things spiritual, and she is a great teacher. In this book she shares her views that we are all here with a divine purpose and have contracts with each other to reach a higher purpose. What is genius about this book is that she builds on the archetypes examined by Carl Jung, Plato, and other thinkers. She examines the lives of Jesus, Buddha, Muhammad, and Abraham and their "archetypal" journeys. She teaches how to examine your own archetypes that are there to help you discover your true purpose. If always feel like the victim, for example, know that you are not alone. Everyone has been wounded and carries that archetype. The lesson is how you will use it to help you move to the path you were born to walk in.
She writes: Spiritual insight is not an end in itself, but a means to transform our life on earth from mere survival and dominance into compassion and service to others....We are heard when we ask for guidance and that is all that matters."
Sacred Woman: A Guide to Healing the Feminine Body, Mind and Spirit
By Queen Afua
The womb is the center of our universe and Queen Afua makes that very clear. The popular healer believes that the world's problems stem from one thing: women's wombs are ill. When we all --women and men--honor and tend to our wombs properly the planet will be healed. And so it is!
Most women don't walk around knowing that their wombs are sacred, divine, love and essence. (Me for a long time included!) Most men don't either. We, sadly, abuse and ignore our wombs and we allow others to do the same. Queen Afua, an inspiring healer now based in Detroit, has been teaching women how to heal their wombs for more than two decades. This book is an encyclopedia of all things woman. She teaches how to create wombs circles with other women and help each other heal. She writes about fasting, why its good for you, getting a fasting partner, the goodness of celibacy (for one week only) and about all kinds of reproductive disorders and how to heal them naturally.
This book is as much as spiritual as it is a cultural journey and she brings it home to Africa or Afraka where wisdom begins.
She writes: The purpose of the Sacred Woman training is to awaken us to the power of the womb as our physical and psychospiritual center. As we enter the Gateway we learn how to identify cleanse, purify, heal one of the primary gateways of our spiritual power.
The Book of Secrets: Unlocking the Hidden Dimensions of Your life
By Deepak Chopra
This is a beautiful and simple look at all the secrets in plain sight. Chopra writes with mastery of all things spiritual and he is an eager and generous teacher. This book journeys through some of his pain and confusion about losing his father, a mentor and his hero. When he got to the other side of the mystery Chopra "discovered" 15 secrets of life and he shares them here.
He writes: The greatest hunger in life is not for food, money, success, status, security, sex, or even love from the opposite sex. Time and again people have achieved all these things and wound up feeling dissatisfied--indeed even more dissatisfied than when they began. The deepest hunger in life is a secret that is revealed only when a person is willing to unlock a hidden part of the self.
Chopra: Never doubt this: You are the most significant being in the world, because at the level of the soul you are the world.
Reinventing the Body, Resurrecting the Soul: How to Create at\ New You
By Deepak Chopra
Yes. I was on a Chopra frenzy and once I entered his vortex I was stuck. This one is so amazing because Chopra combines his medical and scientific knowledge with his spiritual wisdom and connects the dots superbly. As much as he knows that the body is an intelligent machine made of moving parts--organs and cells that work so gladly when they all work--what truly gives our body and perfect machine meaning and purpose, intelligence, creativity is only the sacred side of our nature.
He writes: ...Your body is boundless. It is channeling the energy, creativity and intelligence of the entire universe. At this moment, the universe is listening through your ears, seeing through your eyes, experiencing through your brain. Your purpose for being here is to allow the universe to evolve.
The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business
What is more amazing than breaking a bad habit is diagnosing it and learning about the habit loop. Once you know why you do the things you do then it's so much easier to break a habit that is detrimental to your body, soul, career, relationship etc and etc.
Remember this: Habits are not destiny Duhigg writes. "This process within our brains a three-step loop. First there is a cue, a trigger that tells your brain to go into automatic mode and which habit to use. Then the routine, which can be physical, mental, or emotional. Finally, there is a reward which helps our brain figure out if this particular loop is worth remembering for future. ...Over time, this loop, cue-routine-reward become more and more automatic until a powerful sense of anticipation and craving emerges. ... When a habit emerges, the brain stops fully participating in decision making. It stops working so hard... Unless you deliberately fight a habit... the pattern will unfold automatically."
Yup. Get it, read it and break out of patterns that have you stuck.
The Miracle of Fasting
Proven Throughout History For Physical, Mental & Spiritual Rejuvenation
By Patricia Bragg and Paul Bragg
Instead of medicine fast for a day. ~Plutarch Greek Philosopher
A classic gem published more than two decades ago this is an amazing book if you are curious about detoxing, juicing, and fasting. Check this out:
"It takes a tremendous amount of Vital Force to pass a large meal through the gastrointestinal tract
and also eliminate the waste via the 30 foot tube that runs from the mouth to the rectum. It takes the great power of Vital Force to pass liquids through the 2 million filters of the human kidneys. It takes Vital Force for the chemical power of the liver and the gall bladder to do their work in preparing food for your 70-100 trillion body cells. It takes great Vital Force for the lungs to deeply inhale up to 2 quarts of oxygen with each breath to purify the entire bloodstream in your body and expel the toxins and the carbon dioxide. It takes great Vital Force for the skin, often called the third kidney, with its 96 million pores to throw off body toxins in the form of skin rashes, pimple, sweat and foul body odors... "
The Brain in Love: 12 Lessons to Enhance your Love Life
Daniel G. Amen
I find the brain sexy. Sadly, the brain not a very popular muscle to work out in popular culture as most people focus on six packs, legs, arms and all the other muscles that you can see. But as Amen, a national and edgy expert on the brain, writes in his wonderful and easy to read book, the brain is the center of it all.
Amen: Since most people cannot see the brain, it is often left out of the equation of our lives. Yet, it is the core of our personal universe. Connecting sex and the brain through the lens of brain imaging has been one of the most fascinating journeys of my life." And mine.
Read with your partner. Have fun.