It seems as though every year is going by quicker and quicker, but my goodness – can you believe we’re there’s only one more month until we’re halfway through the year?
This means it’s time to re-examine those New Year’s resolutions, and to take a look at how you’re tracking. It’s time to pat yourself on the back for how far you’ve come, and also to tweak any areas where there’s room for improvement.
The ball might be slowing down at this point, so we’ve compiled a list of books, which might encourage some momentum for you. Carl Sagan once said ‘a book is proof that humans are capable of working magic,’ so what better way to borrow some motivation than by reading the inspiring journeys of others?
These are perfect reads for home, the train, or retreat. They’re books of movement, inner journeys and transformation.
The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho
Paulo Coelho wrote The Alchemist in 1987, in just two weeks. He explained that the story was ‘already written in his soul.’
The book rose to fame after being spotted with Bill Clinton and Madonna, and is now considered a modern classic, having transformed the lives of millions of readers.
The Alchemist has a simple profundity – it’s an easy, pleasant read, with many layers of depth. Combining mysticism and allegory, the story follows Santiago, a shepherd who travels in pursuit of a worldly treasure.
Through his magical journey, we’re shown the importance of recognising and heeding the signs of the universe. Coelho presents us with a simple truth: ‘to realise one’s destiny is a person’s only obligation.’
This book can gently spark gratitude, motivation, and sensitivity to the magic and synchronicity that follows us all, if we choose to see it. Perhaps most importantly, we’re reminded of the wisdom in following our hearts;
‘It is we who nourish the Soul of the world, and the world we live in will either be better or worse, depending on whether we become better or worse. And that’s where the power of love comes in. because when we love, we always strive to become better than we are.’
The Faraway Nearby – Rebecca Solnit
Rebecca Solnit’s writing has been described as ‘literary cartography,’ which comes close to capturing the unique terrain of her writing.
Through using a combination of lyrical memoir, essay, art criticism, historical examination (I could probably list more!), The Faraway Nearby, explores the onset of her mother’s dementia alongside the narrative of her own personal journey. From fairy tales, to Iceland and the Grand Canyon, Solnit gracefully weaves threads, which gently inspire and provoke deep thought such as this;
‘Something wonderful happens to you and you instantly look back over your life and see it as a series of fortunate events stretching off into the distance like mountain peaks. Something terrible happens and your life has always been a litany of woe. The present rearranges the past. We never tell the story whole because a life isn’t a story; it’s a whole Milky way of events and we are forever picking out constellations from it to fit who and where we are.’
Eat Pray Love – Elizabeth Gilbert
If you haven’t already read (or watched) this one, Liz Gilbert’s astoundingly successful memoir is a book that I’ll never cease to recommend.
It’s a lightly inspiring story of journeying, following Gilbert’s dark divorce and consequent year’s travels through Italy, India and Bali. She gracefully and humorously tackles hardship and challenges, the whole time wearing her enormous heart on her sleeve. She embraces her perfect imperfections and stubbornly trudges on. A book that I recommend for anyone going through break-ups, stagnancy or burnout – it carries a positively gritty sense of momentum;
‘Another solitary bedtime in Rome. Another long night’s sleep ahead of me, with nobody and nothing in my bed except a pile of Italian phrase books and dictionaries.
I am alone, I am all alone. I am completely alone.
Grasping this reality, I let go of my bag, drop to my knees and press my forehead against the floor. There, I offer up to the universe a fervent prayer of thanks.
First in English.
Then in Italian.
And then – just to get the point across – in Sanskrit.’
The Yoga of Discipline – Guryumayi Chidvilasananda
Surprisingly linked to my above recommendation, this book is by the meditation Master who’s Ashram is referred to in Eat Pray Love. It’s quite the opposite in terms of a read though!
The Yoga of Discipline is a collection of talks by Guryumayi, on the concept of, you guessed it – Discipline. If you’re having trouble maintaining your resolutions, with your vices, or general will power – this might be the book for you.
The traditional scientific view of the sensory perception is that it’s a tool, which enables us to navigate through our worlds. Our organs of perception allow us a flow of information, which our brain then receives, discerning which parts are relevant or necessary for the lives we choose.
This is where the main idea of Guryumayi’s message comes in: as humans, we’re uniquely enabled (to a degree) to choose what our eyes will see, what our ears will hear, what our taste buds will taste… and so on. Drawing on many classic yoga texts, she suggests that our daily acts of choice and conscious discrimination are in fact valuable opportunities to deepen our experience of ourselves, and the Divine;
‘The human body is equipped with the incredible ability to open doors to the subtler realms. Just as gold is found in a gold mine and lotuses in a pond… steam in hot water, and tenderness in a generous heart, in the same way, the great Self can be found in this human body.’
If you’re after some mid-year momentum why not treat yourself to a retreat at Happy Buddha? A great book, some yoga classes and delicious home-cooked meals, might be exactly what you need.