“It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines
what you will be when you can’t help it.”
I have to admit that I did not enjoy reading as a kid! My life was so traumatic that I just did not have the mental focus for it. In the preface of my book The Practice, I write about how I first became immersed in reading for inspiration when I went into treatment for my eating disorder. I left treatment thirty years ago, and I haven’t stopped reading!
Reading is such an important, joyful activity for me that it continues to be an essential part of my daily spiritual practice—even if I can only find the time for a few minutes on an especially busy day. Taking in, really absorbing, the words of the masters, mystics, saints, spiritual teachers, and healers of the past and present is a privilege and a true passion of mine. I explain it this way in my book:
“Just as the food we eat nourishes and strengthens the body, the books we read for inspiration nourish and enrich the mind. I thrive in my life and feed my soul with the reading I do daily.”
I love it when someone I know has read a book I have enjoyed, and we can then share some personal time to discuss and connect with that teacher together. I founded a meditation group fifteen years ago, which meets weekly. Part of our time together is reading from one of the great spiritual books and discussing the meaning of the teacher’s words and how we can practice those teachings in our personal lives. I believe these books are written to help us on our path and to guide us to discover our teacher within.
In my blog today, I am inviting you to think about starting your own Reading for Inspiration book group. It is a wonderful way to deepen your spiritual practice with like-minded people. Here’s how:
- Click here to view the list of the books I recommend for the purpose of nourishing and enriching your mind. Choose six books from the list that speak to you.
- Think of people in your life who are on a spiritual path. Invite them to participate in a book club that will inspire and nourish the mind, body, and soul. Keep in mind that with Skype and FaceTime and other video chats, people who do not live close may still be part of the group.
- Share the list of six books you have chosen with the group as a starting point. Be open to discussing and adding other books from the Reading for Inspiration list.
- Once you have two or more people interested in the group, get together and go over the details, such as when, where, and how often you will meet; how long you have to complete reading the book; and which book you will choose first.
Remember, your group practice is simply about sharing your observations with one another and deepening your personal understanding of what the teachers have written. I would be honored if you would like to share your group or personal experiences with me after you have read one of these beloved books!
Here are inspiring words from one of my greatest teachers, Thomas Merton:
“By reading the scriptures I am so renewed that all nature seems renewed around me and with me. The sky seems to be a pure, cooler blue, the trees a deeper green. The whole world is charged with the glory of God and I feel fire and music under my feet.”