The Expanding Lotus Reads: Books That Have Impacted My Life

Siddhartha: A Novel by Herman Hesse

I remember having to read this in high school as an Humanities class assignment. As a school assignment I didn’t think it would really impact me at all, but it was so memorable that I still think about it to this day and plan on reading it again. It tells the story of Siddhartha Gautama and his spiritual journey into becoming the iconic Buddha that we all know. I highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in reading a wonderfully written story on his journey, in the hopes that it’ll inspire you to embrace your own journey that you’re on.

Though set in a place and time far removed from the Germany of 1922, the year of the book’s debut, the novel is infused with the sensibilities of Hermann Hesse’s time, synthesizing disparate philosophies–Eastern religions, Jungian archetypes, Western individualism–into a unique vision of life as expressed through one man’s search for meaning.

It is the story of the quest of Siddhartha, a wealthy Indian Brahmin who casts off a life of privilege and comfort to seek spiritual fulfillment and wisdom. On his journey, Siddhartha encounters wandering ascetics, Buddhist monks, and successful merchants, as well as a courtesan named Kamala and a simple ferryman who has attained enlightenment. Traveling among these people and experiencing life’s vital passages–love, work, friendship, and fatherhood–Siddhartha discovers that true knowledge is guided from within.

When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times by Pema Chödrön

This is a book I read during a difficult time in my life when I had pretty bad anxiety and wasn’t dealing well with the transitions/changes I was going through in life—figuring out who I was (which is a journey I will ALWAYS be on), what my purpose was, and trying to manage the chronic stress and anxiety I faced through it all. I always recommend this to anyone that is going through difficult times and is having a hard time adjusting to the changes and transitions we all inevitably will face in life.

The beautiful practicality of her teaching has made Pema Chödrön one of the most beloved of contemporary American spiritual authors among Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike. A collection of talks she gave between 1987 and 1994, the book is a treasury of wisdom for going on living when we are overcome by pain and difficulties. Chödrön discusses:

· Using painful emotions to cultivate wisdom, compassion, and courage
· Communicating so as to encourage others to open up rather than shut down
· Practices for reversing habitual patterns
· Methods for working with chaotic situations
· Ways for creating effective social action

I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai

If you ever want an eye-opener into how others live in the world around us, especially in third-world countries, read this book. It made me realize how fortunate I was to be brought up in this country and how things that we take for granted in our everyday lives are things that others need just for their basic survival in the world. Malala is truly a strong and inspirational young woman, and is so remarkably vulnerable in sharing her story with us. WARNING: You will likely need tissues if you read this. It’s a difficult read at times, but I guarantee you will be more grateful for life itself after reading this.

“I come from a country that was created at midnight. When I almost died it was just after midday."

When the Taliban took control of the Swat Valley in Pakistan, one girl spoke out. Malala Yousafzai refused to be silenced and fought for her right to an education.

On Tuesday, October 9, 2012, when she was fifteen, she almost paid the ultimate price. She was shot in the head at point-blank range while riding the bus home from school, and few expected her to survive.

Instead, Malala's miraculous recovery has taken her on an extraordinary journey from a remote valley in northern Pakistan to the halls of the United Nations in New York. At sixteen, she became a global symbol of peaceful protest and the youngest nominee ever for the Nobel Peace Prize.

I AM MALALA is the remarkable tale of a family uprooted by global terrorism, of the fight for girls' education, of a father who, himself a school owner, championed and encouraged his daughter to write and attend school, and of brave parents who have a fierce love for their daughter in a society that prizes sons.

I AM MALALA will make you believe in the power of one person's voice to inspire change in the world.

Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find—and Keep—Love by Amir Levine

I’ll be honest and tell you I spent years dating one emotionally unavailable man after the other. I kept being attracted to and attracting the same kind of person: someone that never wanted to be emotionally close, needed a lot of space and distance, couldn’t meet my needs, didn’t want to commit or settle down, and weren’t in tune with how they felt. When I entered my late 20s, I wanted to learn more about why I continually enter this vicious cycle of relationships that don’t work out, and didn’t want to put 100% of the blame on the other person. Relationships are a two-way street after all. This book was very eye-opening in understanding my own attachment style, why my attachment style tends to be a magnet for certain other attachment styles, and what a secure, and healthy, attachment style looks like in a healthy relationship. It really did change my life, and gave me the foundation for seeking therapy to make positive changes moving forward. I highly recommend this to anyone, regardless of if you’re single, in a relationship, married, etc, as a comprehensive overview of the attachment style theory.

We already rely on science to tell us what to eat, when to exercise, and how long to sleep. Why not use science to help us improve our relationships? In this revolutionary book, psychiatrist and neuroscientist Dr. Amir Levine and Rachel Heller scientifically explain why why some people seem to navigate relationships effortlessly, while others struggle.

Discover how an understanding of adult attachment—the most advanced relationship science in existence today—can help us find and sustain love. Pioneered by psychologist John Bowlby in the 1950s, the field of attachment posits that each of us behaves in relationships in one of three distinct ways:

• Anxious people are often preoccupied with their relationships and tend to worry about their partner's ability to love them back
• Avoidant people equate intimacy with a loss of independence and constantly try to minimize closeness.
• Secure people feel comfortable with intimacy and are usually warm and loving.

Attached guides readers in determining what attachment style they and their mate (or potential mate) follow, offering a road map for building stronger, more fulfilling connections with the people they love.

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali by Sri Swami Satchidananda

I was introduced to the Sutras while undergoing my 200-hours yoga teacher training back in 2015, and am beyond grateful for the beautiful wisdom in these teachings (containing 4 sections, called padas) that are over 4000 years old. Although these teachings were completed prior to 400 CE in India, they are still very relevant to our modern lives that we all live today. I am actually currently re-reading this, which is something I know I will continually be re-reading my entire life. Words are difficult to describe how life-changing this book has been for me, so I highly recommend checking it out as a resource to help you on your own personal journey of growth and healing.

This valuable book provides a complete manual for the study and practice of Raja Yoga, the path of concentration and meditation. This new edition of these timeless teachings is a treasure to be read and referred to again and again by seekers treading the spiritual path. The classic Sutras (thought-threads), at least 4,000 years old, cover the yogic teachings on ethics, meditation, and physical postures, and provide directions for dealing with situations in daily life. The Sutras are presented here in the purest form, with the original Sanskrit and with translation, transliteration, and commentary by Sri Swami Satchidananda, one of the most respected and revered contemporary Yoga masters. In this classic context, Sri Swamiji offers practical advice based on his own experience for mastering the mind and achieving physical, mental and emotional harmony.