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Top 10 Books to Guide Your Mindfulness Journey

Author: Peter Alternative

In conjunction with the launch of our upcoming monthly newsletter; the Mindful Mountain, we want to start the practice of sharing resources with the Sherpa of Souls community. To that end, this is our list of Top Ten Books to help guide your journey towards “outside in” transformation. Hope you enjoy it.

1. The Places That Scare You by Pema Chodron

Pema Chodron is an American Tibetan-Buddhist. As an ordained nun and former instructor of Shambhala Buddhism, she has a deep background in spirituality, looking inward, and embracing our demons. She has filled this book with tools and anecdotes on how to face difficult times fearlessly, and with an open heart and mind. It’s a short quick read that will open your eyes to the warrior within.

2. The Creative Act: A Way of Being by Rick Rubin

Rick Rubin is arguably one of the most successful record producers on the planet. As co-founder and founder of many different well known recording studios, Rubin has been able to play a major role in popularizing the hip hop genre, and produced hit records for acts from a variety of other genres as well. In 2007, Rubin was called "the most important producer of the last 20 years" by MTV, and was named on the Time 110 list of the most influential people in the world. His book The Creative Act, shares his creative process and journey within. It is a great read for anyone looking for meaning and direction within their creative outlets, and within their life.

3. The Four Desires by Rod Stryker

The Four Desires by Rod Stryker is where my current journey began. This book helped me articulate my purpose, my Dharma Code and my Sankalpa, and in effect, the launch of my company Sherpa of Souls. If those Sanskrit words are unfamiliar to you, they mean your guide and intention. This book is an important reference tool that is full of exercises, yoga postures and meditations that you can put into immediate action within your daily life.

4. The Positive Psychology of Buddhism and Yoga by Marvin Levine

Marvin Levine is a researcher and theorist in cognitive-experimental psychology. He went to Harvard undergrad and University of Wisconsin for his Ph.D., and is now a Professor at Stony Brook University, according to his Foreword. This is admittedly a more academic book, which allows for a more scientifically grounded explanation for the healing power of attaining long-lasting happiness. It is an interesting read if you care to dive deep into some of the basics behind Buddhism and Yoga specifically, and how those philosophies intersect with western psychology.

5. The Seat of the Soul by Gary Zukav

The Seat of the Soul by Gary Zukav, is a well written and enormously insightful read about your soul, the part of your awareness that lies beyond your body and mind that offers a more nuanced type of intelligence, and that becomes increasingly more accessible overtime with lots of practice. Why would one practice accessing this for such a prolonged period of time? Well, how does happiness and blissful joy sound for starters? I’m not suggesting that those rewards will immediately come if you read this book, but rather a newfound awareness which is a great place to start looking inward.

6. Living Untethered by Michael Singer

Michael Singer, a New York Times bestselling author, has written another compelling read if you’re interested in cultivating inner growth and acceptance. What I mean by inner growth is your spirituality. Fair warning, GOD is referenced a few times in the context of the seat of self being of a divine nature. Interestingly, the GOD references are more than counterbalanced by numerous scientific references throughout. Ultimately, as the title suggests and Sherpa of Souls encourages, using this book to help figure out how best to free oneself from the distractions that come with our overstimulated, overworked, overstressed lives, or said another way- living untethered, makes this worth the read.

7. The Well Gardened Mind by Sue Stuart-Smith

The Well Gardened Mind by Sue Stuart-Smith is all about the restorative power of nature. I loved this book because it combines my new found purpose embodied in Sherpa of Souls with one of my favorite hobbies, gardening. My Italian roots go back to southern Italy as peasant farmers, so I can’t help myself, it’s part of my DNA. This book is full of interesting anecdotes about how nature works its transformative power to heal and change lives for the better. The book is also full of interesting studies conducted to support the notion of nature as a healing agent toward greater mental health and wellness. In other words, go dig in the dirt and grow something.

8. Wilderness by Scott Stillman

Scott Stillman, a writer and nature enthusiast, puts words to what I’ve known all along, that Wilderness for me is in fact the gateway to my Soul. As a child I would often tell my Catholic mother that time alone in Wilderness, for me, was the equivalent of going to church. Nature’s many cathedrals always made me feel at ease and calm, with an unparalleled clarity of thinking. The book is part travel log, part narrative about one man’s spiritual relationship with nature, and is a quick read that captures the essence of why nature is healing to your soul.

9. The Body Keeps The Score by Bessel Van Der Kolk M.D.

This New York Times Best Seller by Bessel Van Der Kolk M.D. was recommended to me upon my own diagnosis of PTSD from childhood trauma. I quickly learned about the pervasiveness of PTSD in our society as a mental health condition that goes far beyond war veterans. This book reflects 30 years of research and succeeds in demystifying and destigmatizing trauma-based mental illness. Our hope at Sherpa of Souls is to work with people suffering from PTSD, since there is much research proving that nature is one of the best interventions available to address this growing epidemic.

10. AWE by Dacher Keltner

I can’t resist the cliché of saving the best for last when introducing the final book in this compilation; AWE by Dacher Keltner. As a Professor of Psychology at UC Berkeley and faculty director of their Greater Good Science Center, Keltner has also been able to put words and science behind my experiences with the power of Awe in wilderness. After writing seminal works about happiness, Keltner turned to drafting AWE in part as a way for him to process the passing of his beloved brother to cancer. This is also another book that magically mashes up empirical scientific research with very personal stories of how Awe is the equivalent of nourishment for your soul.

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