Desperately Seeking Self: An Inner Guidebook to People with Eating Disorders, by Viola Fodor
This is the small but powerful book that started me on a path to healing my own eating disorder and mental health concerns. It is a gentle and authentic read in which late psychotherapist, Viola Fodor, is speaking to a client about what it means to heal from the inside-out. She offers her own life story, provides a new way of looking at symptoms, addresses fears, and explains the difference between “apparent resolution or recovery” and “healing or transformation.” Viola’s process, which I use in my own work with clients, focuses on discovering our true self outside of our conditioning, eating disorder, and other identities. I highly recommend this read for anyone struggling with an eating disorder who is looking for answers that go deeper than food and trauma.
The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself, by Michael A. Singer
Michael A. Singer takes us on a journey of introspection where he encourages us to pay attention to how our thoughts and emotions affect our well-being. It is based in the wisdom of mindfulness and meditation, and prompts us with the deepest question of all: Who am I? He explores how to work on our level of consciousness by quieting the mind, cultivating a connection to our innermost self, and shifting our perception so that we can release ourselves from mental suffering. I highly recommend this to my clients when we begin exploring the practice of “observing without judgement” (looking at how our minds influence our mental health and keep us stuck). Whether you’re struggling with anxiety, depression, an eating disorder, or stress, this book can bring a fresh and life-changing perspective on healing.
Stillness Speaks, by Eckhart Tolle
All of Eckhart Tolle’s books are influential (and his podcast, Eckhart Tolle: Essential Teachings). I love The Power of Now, and A New Earth. But Stillness Speaks is a beautiful and small book that has just a bit of wisdom written on each page. It begins with: “When you lose touch with inner stillness, you lose touch with yourself.” Eckhart is a spiritual teacher who experienced a profound shift in awareness after suffering from depression for many years. His work inspires many, including myself, who are on a journey of self-healing, consciousness, and mindfulness. This is a transformative book that discusses a wide range of interconnected topics, including the egoic self, who you truly are, acceptance and surrender, and more. I recommend this as a nice way to sit down and read a small and inspiring passage prior to meditation.
Falling Into Grace: Insights on the End of Suffering, by Adyashanti
I truly love all of Adyashanti’s books (and YouTube videos and online trainings). In this particular book, he explores how to break free from our suffering (including generational suffering), by looking at our mind, experiencing the energy of emotions, and finding “inner stability.” Adyashanti is a spiritual teacher from the Zen Buddhism tradition who is gentle, authentic, and easy to read. He shares insights from his own life and is truly committed to helping people heal themselves by looking within. I recommend this book to anyone interested in learning how to connect to their true nature.
A Mind at Home With Itself, by Byron Katie
Byron Katie is a spiritual teacher who focuses on how when we believe our thoughts, we become stuck in our minds and cannot help ourselves. She was riddled with depression, suicidal thoughts, anxiety, an eating disorder, anger, and alcohol issues for many years before having a spontaneous awakening while at a treatment centre in the U.S. Byron Katie uses 4 questions to prompt people to look at the truth behind their thoughts (a process she has named “The Work”). She offers real life examples of doing The Work with people, which is helpful when you are learning how to approach the questions. At the end of her book, she also has an outline of how to use her 4 questions (although her process can always be found online for free too). I find this book really helpful for exploring the mind on a deeper level. I recommend it to my clients who are getting stuck in unhealthy thought cycles that contribute to anxiety, depression, and stress. It is important that this book is used experientially in conjunction with a meditation practice, which I teach my clients. Otherwise, people fall into a surface-level, intellectualized understanding of her work, which would be more aligned with cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT).
Letting Go: The Pathway of Surrender, by David R. Hawkins
Dr. Hawkins is a psychiatrist turned spiritual teacher with many incredible books. Letting Go is the most accessible book for people who are new to exploring inner work topics. He shares the mechanism of letting go, various emotions (apathy and depression, grief, fear, desire, anger, pride, courage, acceptance, love, peace), and how we can begin to transform our lives. He also looks at how emotional energy blocks our relationships, work goals, and physical health. I recommend this to clients who are getting stuck in emotions, leading to mental health concerns. It offers a fresh perspective on letting go that isn’t intellectualized.
The Tao of Pooh, by Benjamin Hoff
This is a sweet little book that I first read when I began my inner work process. It is about Taoism and the concept of “effortless doing.” Benjamin Hoff uses the Winnie the Pooh characters to explore different personalities and their challenges. For example, Eyeore is the pessimistic (perhaps depressed) animal who complains and focuses on what is lacking. Rabbit is constantly absorbed by doing more and he overcomplicates things until he becomes confused. Owl seeks knowledge for the sake of knowledge and becomes trapped by his intellectual mind. Piglet is riddled with anxiety and worries about everything. Meanwhile, Pooh is simple-minded and unbothered by the complexities of life. He seems to approach problems with ease and life flows better for him. I love this book because we can all relate to the minds of the various characters in one way or another, and we can begin to see how we get stuck. Most importantly, we learn through Pooh that there is another way of being in life, which is the basis for the mindfulness and transpersonal therapies that I teach my clients.
How to Meditate: A Practical Guide to Making Friends With Your Mind, by Pema Chodron
Pema Chodron is a beautiful spiritual teacher with many useful books (and videos on YouTube). This is a relatively small book that is broken down into 5 parts: The Technique of Meditation, Working With Thoughts, Working with Emotions, Working with Sense Perceptions, and Opening Your Heart to Include Everything. I recommend this book to anyone considering starting a meditation practice and feeling overwhelmed, defeated, or frustrated. In my work with clients, we focus on an informal mind quieting process most aligned with insight meditation. I find that many people get stuck in expectations, which creates a resistance to sitting down and practicing. This book can help work through some of these challenges.
What Our Children Teach Us: Lessons in Joy, Love, and Awareness, by Piero Ferrucci
As a mom myself, this is the only parenting book I’ve ever read. Piero Ferrucci is a wonderful transpersonal therapist (spiritual therapist), who has written many amazing books including The Power of Kindness, Beauty & The Soul, and Your Inner Will. His book on parenting avoids strategies and instead encourages us to look within ourselves in a process of introspection.
Piero is very relatable since he is a parent himself and offers examples from his own journey with his son. While we cannot avoid the pains of human existence, we can relieve our suffering by shifting our perception and asking questions like “What is this situation bringing up in me?” and “What am I meant to learn from this?” This is deeply aligned with awareness and mindfulness work. I recommend this book to parents interested in evolving through their parenting journey, or looking to step out of strategies and into a new way of being. This is an old book that seems to be out of print now, so it can be difficult to find online. I have purchased it both through a second hand book store online, and also on my Kobo e-reader.