I continue to be deeply interested in exploring emotional and psychological healing tools. I’ve also been looking for meaning in my day-to-day as I move within the corporate grind. A good resting place for me now and I am comfortable with it’s stability but I have been seeking some outside inspiration.

I oftentimes feel that people look to connect with something larger than themselves in their daily lives – perhaps latching onto an inspiration that keeps them motivated towards living life – which otherwise may seem haphazard and arbitrary.

I read these books over the summer. I loved all of them and each in their own way helped me feel more connected to my inner and true self.

  1. Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl
    Frankl, a neurologist and psychiatrist who survived one of humanity’s more horrific crimes, the concentration camps of Aushwitz, shares his experience and how he mentally survived. He eventually went on to develop logotherapy (the definition of “logos” is “meaning” in Greek), focusing on the meaning of human existence and man’s search for such a meaning.

Quotations that stood out for me:

The truth – that love is the ultimate and the highest goal to which man can aspire. (Kindle edition, Loc. 528)

Love goes very far beyond the physical of the beloved. It finds its deepest meaning in his spiritual being, his inner self. Whether or not he is actually present, whether or not he is still alive at all, ceases somehow to be of importance. (Loc. 541)

 …but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way. (Loc. 876)

 As we see, a human being is not one in pursuit of happiness but rather in search of a reason to become happy, last but not least, through actualizing the potential meaning inherent and dormant in a given situation. (Loc. 1716)

 There are three main avenues on which one arrives at meaning in life. The first is by creating a work or by doing a deed. The second is by experiencing something or encountering someone; in other words, meaning can be found not only in work but also in love… Most important, however is the third avenue to meaning in life: even the helpless victim of a hopeless situation, facing a fate he cannot change, may rise above himself, may grow beyond himself, and by doing so change himself. (Loc. 1803)

  1. Many Lives, Many Masters by Brian Weiss
    Reading this book helped me form a more complete view of the human experience – where one can look past the bounded times of our birth and death and see how past life experiences carry over and influence our modern day outlook. Brian Weiss is a psychiatrist who found he could significantly help patients by applying psychotherapy techniques during past life regression. I loved this book – an account of looking beyond the current self into past lives to heal what one is ready for and the channeling of wisdom by beings that are around though we may not readily see them.

Quotations that stood out for me:

In my questions, as we scanned lifetimes, I was looking for the patterns of these insults, patterns such as chronic emotional or physical abuse, poverty, and starvation, illness and handicaps, persistent persecution and prejudice, repeated failures and so on. I also kept an eye out for those more piercing tragedies, such as a traumatic death experience, rape, mass catastrophe, or any other horrifying event that might leave a permanent imprint. The technique was similar to reviewing a childhood in conventional therapy, except the timeframe was several thousand years, rather than the usual ten or fifteen years. (p. 105)

The fear of death, that hidden, constant fear that no amount of money or power can neutralize—this is the core. (p. 122)

I understood why these highly trained professionals remained in the closet. I was one of them. We could not deny our own experiences and senses. Yet our training was in many ways diametrically opposite to the information, experiences, and beliefs we had accumulated. So we remained quiet. (p. 129)

It is all growth and learning…continuous growth. Our body is just a vehicle for us while we’re here. It is our soul and our spirit that last forever. (p. 140)

  1. Grace and Grit by Ken Wilber
    Ken Wilber has been an important spiritual teacher and author for a number of my male friends however I had trouble finding interest in his work. Something about it was off-putting– perhaps I felt he was too heady and verbose; he describes spirituality and mysticism through a very systematic and structured lens. – perhaps a too masculine perspective. Despite being turned off, I felt I should give one of his books a try given his influence; a friend recommended Grace and Grit as a soft introduction to his work. I’m glad I read it as I picked up some nuggets of wisdom.

Quotations that stood out for me:

As the mystics everywhere have repeatedly told us, it is only in accepting death that real life is found. (p. 79)

So your recommendation is that, what, people use psychotherapy and meditation in a complementary fashion, letting each do its respective job? Yes, that’s exactly right. They are both powerful and effective techniques that fundamentally aim at different levels of the spectrum of consciousness. This is not to say that they don’t overlap, or that they don’t share some things in common, because they do. Even psychoanalysis, for example, trains to some degree the capacity for witnessing… (p. 196)

Meditation does not necessarily cure the shadow. I had, too often, simply used meditation to bypass the emotional work I needed to complete. I had used zazen to bypass neurosis, and that it will not do. And that I was now in the process of redressing… (p. 197)

  1. The Soul of Money by Lynne Twist
    Lynne Twist is such an inspiration and teacher. Her book has been a must read in fundraising circles. She really helped me see in a very tangible way how our outer world is really an expression of our inner world. She also gave me a perspective on thinking of money as an “instrument” which can be used for conscious purpose – so rather than a disparate and incongruent mechanism, more life a fluid, soluble entity that can be imbued with positive vibration and intention as it flows from one person/organization to another.

Quotations that stood out for me:

When we bring the practice of collaboration and reciprocity into conscious view in everyday life, a kind of alchemy and prosperity await discovery all around us. (p. 145)

I used to think that the words we say simply represent our inner thoughts expressed. Experience has taught me that it is also true that the words we say create our thoughts and our experience, and even our world. The conversation we have with ourselves and with others—the thoughts that grip our attention—has enormous power over how we feel, what we experience, and how we see the world in that moment. (p. 208)

Then Bucky said something that changed my life and my relationship with my children forever. He said to Bill and me, “Remember, your children are your elders in universe time. They have come into a more complete, more evolved universe than you or I can know. We can only see that universe through their eyes.” (p. 237)

Money can affirm life or it can be used to demean, diminish, or destroy it. It is neither evil nor good; it is an instrument. We invented it, and it belongs squarely in the human experience, but it can be used by and merged with the longings and passions of our soul. (p. 247-8)

  1. The Magic of Findhorn by Paul Hawken
    This journalistic account shares the remarkable story of a spritual community in Scotland in the 1960s and 1970s where the founders developed a renowned and incredibly prolific garden by listening to the guidance of nature spirits. There were many anecdotal stories that captured my attention that I wanted to share. So rather than copy entire passages of the book in the form of quotations, I encourage anyone to read this book with an interest in how we can relate and interact with the nature around us for mutual benefit and enjoyment.
  1. Wired for Joy by Laurel Mellin
    This book gave me a practical tool-kit on how to re-wire the emotional survival patterns laid down in my brain from an early age. Implementing the technique takes some work and discipline but so do most significant practices. Repeatedly addressing the pre-set emotional patterns in my brain to shift them from fear and negativity to lightness and joy seems just as important and complementary a practice as regular exercise and meditation.

Quotations that stood out for me:

The more moments you spend in well-being, the more you turn around stress-related increase in allostatic load, and the myriad of stress symptoms tend to improve. The strategy is to rewire self-regulation, the fundamental way we process daily life. (p. 3-4)

And a point arrives when a switch finally flips and joy becomes the brain’s set point. The brain begins to feel safe in joy and will work to get back to it—just as it once fought to return to stress. At this point, life becomes organized around experiencing joy in the moment rather than revolving around identifying and fixing problems. (p. 10)

These stress circuits were laid down in both of them before the age of three and even though the flight was not pleasant, arousing those old circuits can be quite comforting. They are so familiar, so old, that revisiting them is oddly satisfying. (p. 95)

In balance, the brain cannot open up the circuits that cause stress. So you must be willing to be upset to heal upsets. And you must stay in the cycle until you pop. (p. 144)

The way you survive is to pay attention to those emotional messages, but when you are in stress, you need to be aware that these messages about your emotions are imposters. Instead of following along with them or shutting them off, you need to learn to switch your brain back to the state in which those messages are accurate. (p. 150)

If the emotions don’t come from your body, the cycle will not break that circuit. They can’t come from your thoughts. (p. 172)

Moreover, you start to see that stress and joy really are bedfellows. It’s just that one kicks the other out. (p. 195)

The unconscious drives fueled by the quiet pursuit of sanctuary, authenticity, vibrancy, integrity, intimacy, and spirituality make mincemeat of stress. It doesn’t have a chance! (p. 196)

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