Most of my book collection is full of information about yoga, buddhism, mythology, and spiritual practice. These are the books that helped to change my mindset, and have been instrumental in my spiritual growth.
I wanted to give a bunch of options because there are so many great ones that I’ve read, but I also wanted to give special attention to the ones that made an impact on me. These are the books that I pick up over and over, and they continue to teach me something totally new and insightful each time.
Below are the four books that I felt were the stepping stones to my spiritual development, and hope they can help you too! Enjoy!
Myths to Live By – Joseph Campbell:
“Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors where there were only walls.” – Joseph Campbell
Link Here: Paperback
Joseph Campbell was a famous mythologist, and George Lucas actually credits him for being an influence on the ideas behind the creation of Star Wars (Yes, it’s true!). When I was in college I fell in love with the humanities and mythology classes. They completely opened my eyes to the similarities in all religions. I remember it was the first time I heard the Old and New Testament referred to as mythology, which put everything in perspective for me.
I had to read this book, Myths to Live By, for my Mythology in Art and Literature class. Campbell discusses in this book how basic archetypes are not exclusive to a particular religion, but that they are the common denominator in all cultures to help reach human growth and potential everywhere. It was the first book that really opened my mind and heart to spirituality.
Living, Loving, and Learning – Leo Buscaglia:
Love is always bestowed as a gift – freely, willingly and without expectation. We don’t love to be loved; we love to love. – Leo Buscaglia
Link Here: Paperback
Living, Loving and Learning is a bunch of essays from classes taught by Leo Buscaglia, also known as Dr. Love. He taught a class called LOVE at the University of Southern California, which was non credit, and always had 600 people on a waiting list! This was the second life changing book on my spiritual path. I was in my friends wedding, and this was part of her bridesmaids gift to me.
At the time, I was in a relationship that wasn’t right. After so many years together, it was hard to understand why I wasn’t happy, and if I should or shouldn’t be in this relationship. This book helped me to look inside, and find the answer through self-reflection.
His essays focus on immersing yourself in the challenges of life, and how to find love and compassion through places of suffering. His writing is free spirited, humble, and with lots of silliness. It’s impossible to read this without a smile on your face.
How To Practice The Way to a Meaningful Life – Dalai Lama:
Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.- Dalai Lama
This was a book that presented itself to me during another breakup, and was what prompted me to explore and deepen my practice of yoga. What’s really helpful about this book, is that the Dalai Lama gives meditation practices, journaling exercises, and instructions on how to change your lifestyle at the end of each chapter. He discusses how we create our own suffering through conditioned beliefs, and practices on how to change our thinking so that we can live happier day to day, moment to moment.
This book helped me through some difficult times. My only two choices were to go into a depression, or to find the strength inside to walk out of a bad situation with grace and love. This book gave me the tools to find the strength I needed.
The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali – Swami Satchidinada:
Sutra 1.2 Yoga Chitta Vritti nirodhah: Yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind waves
Link Here: Paperback
I’ve talked about this book so much, but I can’t help it. It’s not even a book. It’s really the basis of my spiritual practice. When I signed up for my yoga apprenticeship, this was one of the books that we were assigned to read. I had all of these attachments; all of these things I was struggling with in my mind because my life wasn’t turning out how I thought it would. I realize now, all of these wants were just a form of materialism, and I was causing my own suffering. It was through the practice of yoga, and these sutras that helped pull me out of those conditioned beliefs.
I even realized that these were things I didn’t really want, but I had shaped my mind over a period of time to believe that I did. I actually remember the life changing moment was when I was driving home from yoga practice in my car. I was feeling anxious, and learned through the sutras that our suffering is based on our own attachment. I had a conversation with myself.
“How can I be happy? What is causing my suffering? What am I attached to?”
That was the moment I didn’t want to suffer anymore, and realized I didn’t have to. I changed my mindset, let it all go, and felt this huge weight release from my being. That’s when I knew the life changing benefits of yoga.
The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali can be confusing at the beginning, but there will be sutras that really jump out at you when you first read it. I am constantly reading this over and over, and there is always a sutra that I didn’t understand previously that comes to fruition. I believe the beauty of these sutras are that they present themselves when you are ready.
There are so many other books I have read that have helped progress my spiritual practice at different times in my life. I created a widget below of the books listed above (if available), and some other ones to look into if you’re interested! Go with what jumps out at you!