Reading: A Powerful Tool For Self-discovery

In today’s busy and often stressful world, there are several tools available for us to remain centered, balanced and connected to the stillness at the core of our being. In my own life, reading an inspiring book has a significant healing power – not because it provides me with an escape from daily routine,  but rather because it grants me new insights,  and a wider perspective on life.

In  my experience, the author whose awareness expands beyond the intellectual and emotional realm, carries with him the power to transform the “tuned-in” reader.  The awakened writer impacts the reader’s experience by accessing his subtle, intuitive nature.  I call this process a “journey from head to heart.”

The transformative power of reading lies in its capacity to expand the reader’s field of awareness and tap into his deep wisdom and compassion – the essence of what it is to be human.     In this manner,  reading becomes a spiritual practice and becomes food for the soul.

I must have been seven or eight years old when I consciously began to question the meaning of life. I recall discovering nature and the space around me as a mysterious and compelling phenomena: I would notice with awe the many shades of green in a single blade of grass;  I would wonder about the experience of ants as they ardently worked in unison; I  remember listening intently to the pronunciation of words coming out of my mouth as if I were a witness to some strange occurrence;  I also recall “feeling” the vibrancy of the earth and its profound resonance within me. I often felt there was a quiet witness inside me looking out at the world. What was working behind the scenes?  These experiences have nurtured a life-long search for what lies beyond the mind – supplemented with rich literature.

Reading as a form of contemplation has the power to quiet the mind and bring the reader to directly experience the meaning of the words.  This type of reading is what I enjoy most, and I highly recommend it to those who wish to explore a new, inner landscape.

The age-old question, “who am I?” surfaces again and again, apparently since the birth of human civilization.    One could easily speculate that the quest to know oneself is at the root of what separates mankind from the animal kingdom.   It is indeed a unique privilege to explore those horizons, taking advantage of the abundant literature available to everyone.

Here are a few books I recommend:

Thich Nhat Hanh: 1) No Death, No Fear; 2) You Are Here: Discovering The Magic Of  The Present Moment            

 Among contemporary western mystics, Eckhart Tolle: 1) The Power Of Now; 2) Stillness Speaks; 3) A New Earth have provided ground- breaking insights to a very large, interested audience.  Tolle refers to the “present moment” as a dynamic energy from which the world appears. Eckhart Tolle carries us into every aspect of our own life and re-contextualizes our existence into a new reality.

Rachel Naomi Remen remains one of my favorite authors.   In My Grandfather’s Blessings, Remen provides rich, personal anecdotes of her own life and brings us immediately to our own deep heart.  She does not lead us into abstractions, but rather keeps us very grounded into everyday life, and shows us the beauty and compassion that lies within us all.

In 12 Steps To Lead A Compassionate LifeKaren Armstrong inspires and motivates the reader to identify with his innate capacity for compassion. The books provides a historical context in which the evolution of human consciousness unfolded, and points to the universal, innate compassion in the heart of man – and the imperative need to live by it in order to save himself.

Pema Chodron’s Places That Scare You  instructed me that when I face my fears completely, they become my greatest allies, as they transmute themselves into agents of compassion and forgiveness. She describes this process as “the opening of the heart.”

For those who prefer reading novels, The Alchemist, from Paulo Coelho, and Siddhartha, from Hermann Hess, are dazzling novels of the journey into the higher self.

A thought-provoking documentary on DVD that addresses quantum physics, spirituality and related research is What The Bleep Do We Know: Down The Rabbit Hole.

Enjoy the discovery!

Karen

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