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Five Books That Changed My Life

Updated: Aug 9, 2022

Throughout my life, I have found that the books that I most need at any given time always seem to show up. Sometimes they are introducing me to a whole new world of ideas that I hadn’t previously thought of and sometimes they are validating new awareness that I had recently come to on my own. Sometimes the guidance about what books to read has been as obvious as one falling off the shelves, directly in my path. Sometimes it’s been more mysterious, like the time I had a dream about reading a specific book and looked it up upon waking, only to discover the cover looked exactly as it had in my dream. Often the messages show up in threes and I hear about the same book from three unrelated sources in a short period of time. Three is the key that tells me, “Hey, pay attention!” Everything I read has an impact on me in some way. It all becomes part of the big picture of who I am and how I see the world. There are five that have changed my life in very specific ways, and those are the ones I’m going to focus on today.

Five Books That Changed My Life

Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy (paid link) by Sarah Ban Breathnach

I purchased this book when I was eighteen, after hearing about it on Oprah. It was the first self help book of any kind that I read. It was organized by date—one page per day—with stories about how to live a more authentic, fulfilling life. I resonated with the author’s practice of keeping an illustrated discovery journal of the things that spark my soul’s passion. I loved to create collages since my childhood, so this felt very natural to me. I spent a year reading this book as a daily meditation, writing the thoughts it stirred within me in my journal. I dedicated a sketchbook as my illustrated discovery journal and visualized the kind of life I wanted. By the end of that year, I felt more grounded, more sure of what I wanted, and had attracted my ideal life partner from across the world.

The Celestine Prophecy (paid link) by James Redfield

When I was twenty-two, this book literally fell off the shelf when I walked by it in the library. I had heard about it a couple of times from unrelated sources before this, so I knew this was the book I needed. From the moment I turned the first page, I could not put it down. I read the entire book in one sitting and felt like I was buzzing from head to toe by the time it was finished. I read the follow up books: The Tenth Insight: Holding the Vision and The Secret of Shambhala: In Search of the Eleventh Insight in short order and then went online to check out the forums that had been created for people to discuss the books. It was there that I met my first mentor and began my journey of spiritual exploration in earnest.

This book was recommended to me by my brother and it immediately became one of my all-time favorites. I appreciated the wise trickster energy of Socrates, the mentor who the author meets and begins a relationship with. What stuck with me the most from this book was a scene in which Socrates, after months of telling Dan that he needs to purify his body and mind by abstaining from all addictions to sex, alcohol, smoking, etc., suddenly pulls out a cigar and starts puffing away. When Dan protests, Socrates tells him that he can enjoy anything he wants as long as he’s not addicted to it. This was a huge revelation for me, because at the time, I was beginning to buy into the New Age mindset that in order to be spiritual, I needed to mold myself into an image of perfection that felt very unrealistic for me. I love my human pleasures. I couldn’t imagine enjoying a life which required me to deny myself of them completely. This felt like a more balanced approach, one that I could actually work with and it had a profound effect on how I approached my spiritual path from that point on.

Tao Te Ching (paid link) by Lao Tzu, translated by Stephen Mitchell

I was first introduced to the Tao when I was eighteen, but it didn’t really grab me until years later. I purchased the translation by Stephen Mitchell and fell in love. As I had already discovered, trying to deny myself in order to be spiritual didn’t work. This philosophy was all about letting go of the struggle, letting nature take its course, trusting in the flow of life and allowing yourself to be in alignment with what is, rather than trying to manipulate things to be the way you think they should be.

“The Master sees things as they are without trying to control them. She lets them go their own way and resides at the center of the circle.”

“If you want to become whole, let yourself be partial. If you want to become straight, let yourself be crooked. If you want to become full, let yourself be empty. If you want to be reborn, let yourself die. If you want to be given everything, give everything up.”

To this day, I do my best to live this way, to allow all things to be as they are, having compassion for all parts of myself and others. I still have dreams. I still have things I wish to experience and create. I do my best to hold them loosely, to allow them to show up in unexpected ways, and then let them go when holding on no longer feels natural.

The Witch of Portobello (paid link) by Paulo Coelho

The first book I read by this author {who is one of my favorites} was The Alchemist, which is fantastic. Actually, I love all of his books immensely, but there is one in particular that affected me and influenced the trajectory of my spiritual path. I read it in 2007, shortly before my first spiritual initiatory experience. By that time, I had already discovered the joys of ecstatic dance through studying Gabrielle Roth’s books and videos. This book took all of that to another level, showing me how dance could be used as a spiritual practice, as a way to create magic. It also inspired me to put myself out in the world as a teacher, even though I didn’t feel like I was yet qualified to claim that title. In the book, the main character is told that the only way to learn to teach {and know what to teach} is to start teaching. And that’s what I did. Reading this book {along with several other synchronistic events} encouraged me to take a leap of faith and open the spiritual healing/teaching center that I had been dreaming about since my early twenties. This move opened doors for me into a world of new experiences and opportunities that will stay with me for the rest of my life.

There are many more I could list, but this is a good start. For more book recommendations, click here.

Blessings fellow travelers,


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