Books are a powerful adjunct to therapy. They offer a chance to gain important knowledge about any area of concern. The best offer great examples that address diverse perspectives, opportunities for active reflection, and practical guidance that can be put to use immediately. Delving into these at your own pace, and then deepening into the learnings in session, provides a tangible road map to your transformation.
At times, when an issue you are facing feels particularly isolating, books offer a low-risk yet high gain way of connecting with others who have walked a similar path, and realizing we are not alone and there is a way forward.
When I am suggesting books for clients, I look for a warm, engaging style of writing that is backed up by latest scientific research, social justice and socio-political framework, and real lived experiences shared with gentle humor and great inspiration.
Here are some of my clients' and my favorite 'personal transformation' reads for this year. I hope you'll find a new favorite or a life changer amongst these.
WHY I LOVE IT:
These two amazing human beings radiate joy through their whole being. Their friendship and playfulness is infectious. Having lived through exile, oppression and some of the darkest moments of history they have retained an inexhaustible reservoir of joy. These loving souls provide two of the greatest examples and inspiration of the power of joyful resilience & share their personal Joy practices in this lovely read.
In April 2015, Archbishop Tutu traveled to the Dalai Lama's home in Dharamsala, India, to celebrate His Holiness's eightieth birthday and to create what they hoped would be a gift for others. They looked back on their long lives to answer a single burning question: How do we find joy in the face of life's inevitable suffering?
They traded intimate stories, teased each other continually, and shared their spiritual practices. By the end of a week filled with laughter and punctuated with tears, these two global heroes had stared into the abyss and despair of our time and revealed how to live a life brimming with joy.
We get to join along as they explore the Nature of True Joy and confront each of the Obstacles of Joy—from fear, stress, and anger to grief, illness, and death. They then offer us the Eight Pillars of Joy, which provide the foundation for lasting happiness. Throughout, they include stories, wisdom, and science. Finally, they share their daily Joy Practices that anchor their own emotional and spiritual lives."
WHY I LOVE IT: This one will make you laugh, cry and be deeply moved all at the same time. What I deeply appreciated was Sonya Renee Taylor's front and center inclusion of the impact of systems of oppression on our relationship with our body, (an essential analysis missing in most books about reclaiming healthy relationship with our body)and tying our awakening of self love to the radical act of reshaping the very systems that shame and shape us.
"Humans are a varied and divergent bunch with all manner of beliefs, morals, and bodies. Systems of oppression thrive off our inability to make peace with difference and injure the relationship we have with our own bodies.
The Body Is Not an Apology offers radical self-love as the balm to heal the wounds inflicted by these violent systems. World-renowned activist and poet Sonya Renee Taylor invites us to reconnect with the radical origins of our minds and bodies and celebrate our collective, enduring strength. As we awaken to our own indoctrinated body shame, we feel inspired to awaken others and to interrupt the systems that perpetuate body shame and oppression against all bodies. When we act from this truth on a global scale, we usher in the transformative opportunity of radical self-love, which is the opportunity for a more just, equitable, and compassionate world--for us all."
WHY I LOVE IT:
It's a great gift when the writer's voice in a book models the patience, care and compassion that they are attempting to teach. This one gets it just right. So much of healing work is focused on changing the voice inside ourselves. Having a great example of that to mimic, and audio meditations that can accompany you on the journey, make it infinitely easier. Check out the author's free guided meditations on their site that accompany this book for even more benefit!
Have you ever noticed how cruel and self-sabotaging your critical inner voice can be? Have you been looking outside of yourself for friends and loved ones to reassure you of your worthiness and lovability?
The field of neurobiology and the science of mindfulness reveal that the human brain is capable of being engaged in the experience of upset (fear, anxiety, depression) while simultaneously observing and holding ourselves with kindness, as a loving parent or partner would.
In simple language and easy-to-follow exercises, Your Resonant Self synthesizes the latest discoveries in brain science, trauma treatment, and the power of empathy into an effective healing method that literally rewires our brain and restores our capacity for self-love and well-being.
WHY I LOVE IT:
This one is ESSENTIAL Reading specially if you have had a hard time expressing boundaries or believing you are worthy of having them. This one is such a refreshing wake up call and powerhouse of a tool kit in getting truthful and direct with important people in your life and cleaning up the toxic communication. Just Read It!
"A practical guide to better communication that will break the blackmail cycle for good, by one of the nation's leading therapists, Susan Forward.
"If you really loved me..."
"After all I've done for you..."
"How can you be so selfish..."
Do any of the above sound familiar? They're all examples of emotional blackmail, a powerful form of manipulation in which people close to us threaten to punish us for not doing what they want. Emotional blackmailers know how much we value our relationships with them. They know our vulnerabilities and our deepest secrets. They are our mothers, our partners, our bosses and coworkers, our friends and our lovers. And no matter how much they care about us, they use this intimate knowledge to give themselves the payoff they want: our compliance.
Susan Forward knows what pushes our hot buttons. and presents the anatomy of a relationship damaged by manipulation, and gives readers an arsenal of tools to fight back.
WHY I LOVE IT:
Meditation is a foundational practice that many therapists recommend to clients, because of it's immense beneficial effects. However, like any tool, it needs to be used with mindfulness, specially for folks with a history of trauma. This essential perspective is missing in most meditation education, creating a distressing gap in serving folks with trauma histories. This book bridges that gap thoroughly, and offers great interventions that allow us to access the gift of meditation with full support. Consider it required reading for anyone engaged in meditation or teaching it.
"From elementary schools to psychotherapy offices, mindfulness meditation is an increasingly mainstream practice. At the same time, trauma remains a fact of life: the majority of us will experience a traumatic event in our lifetime, and up to 20% of us will develop posttraumatic stress. This means that anywhere mindfulness is being practiced, someone in the room is likely to be struggling with trauma. At first glance, this appears to be a good thing: trauma creates stress, and mindfulness is a proven tool for reducing it. But the reality is not so simple.
Drawing on a decade of research and clinical experience, psychotherapist and educator David Treleaven shows that mindfulness meditation―practiced without an awareness of trauma―can exacerbate symptoms of traumatic stress. Instructed to pay close, sustained attention to their inner world, survivors can experience flashbacks, dissociation, and even retraumatization.
This raises a crucial question for mindfulness teachers, trauma professionals, and survivors everywhere: How can we minimize the potential dangers of mindfulness for survivors while leveraging its powerful benefits?
Trauma-Sensitive Mindfulness offers answers to this question. and distills these insights into five key principles for trauma-sensitive mindfulness and offers 36 specific modifications designed to support survivors’ safety and stability. The result is a groundbreaking and practical approach that empowers those looking to practice mindfulness in a safe, transformative way.
WHY I LOVE IT:
Two words-"Morning Pages." Not only do my clients rave about this book, but, this one exercise, has helped many of them get in the habit of writing and reflecting every morning as creative practice and also as an exceptional tool for getting grounded, connected and clear inside themselves. Highly Recommend this Classic for Releasing Fear Around Creativity.
This international bestseller has inspired millions to overcome the limiting beliefs and fears that inhibit the creative process.
First published twenty-five years ago, The Artist's Way is the seminal book on the subject of creativity. Perhaps even more vital in today's cultural climate than when it was first published, The Artist's Way is a powerfully provocative and inspiring work. In it, Julia Cameron takes readers on an amazing twelve-week journey to discover the inextricable link between their spiritual and creative selves. A revolutionary program for artistic renewal from the world's foremost authority on the creative process, The Artist's Way is a life-changing book.
Loved one of these books? Support your local bookstore or connect with your local library and make it your Fall Treat! Have some of your own to add to our list? Please share below in the comments and let us know what we should be cozying up with this Fall.
Anjuli Sherin, LMFT
Welcome to Joyous Resilience Blog! An inspiring resource for fellow lovers of Joy, Healing, Beauty, Nature, Literature, Cinema, Art, Poetry, Music, Dance, Food, Culture, Photography & Spirit. Let's Share In Joy. Do Good In The World & Have Fun Whenever Possible!