Self Care, Healing and Transformation
A great deal of my personal growth has come from literature. Read a great work of fiction and in relating to it, you will have healed something. This website is too limited in scope to list works of fiction, but consider joining a book club where personal growth and psychology are emphasized through literature. In addition, I hope you will consider these contemporary books by inspiring poets, philosophers, and researchers.
Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom
by: John O'Donohue
John O'Donohue is one of my favorite writers. An Irish philosopher and priest, his works include poems, blessings and insights such as this: One of the tasks of true friendship is to listen compassionately and creatively to the hidden silences. Often secrets are not revealed in words, they lie concealed in the silence between the words or in the depth of what is unsayable between two people.
Everything is Waiting for You
by: David Whyte
Originally from Ireland, David Whyte is known around the world for his work in Conversational Leadership, his poetry, and his ability to bring leadership qualities into the workplace through artful conversation. He travels the world over, making expeditions and leading others on anthropological/poetry/naturalist/musical pilgrimages and tours. Read a poem aloud to yourself or to your partner and notice, as David Whyte says, that poetry is the language against which we have no defenses.
David Whyte is an inspiring speaker. Here is a link to a TedTalk he made in 2017. Click For Ted Talk
Creating a Life:
Finding Your Individual Path (Studies in Jungian Psychology by Jungian Analysts)
by: James Hollis
James Hollis writes beautifully and powerfully about developing depth in one's life. Hollis includes ideas and excerpts from poets and writers (including Rilke, DH Lawrence, and other modern writers) to underscore the importance of examining one's life purpose.
Getting Past Your Past:
Take Control of Your Life with Self-Help Techniques from EMDR Therapy
by: Francine Shapiro, PhD
As an Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapist, I've included this book by the founder of this treatment model. The theories are that the eye movements aid in processing trauma either by interfering with memory processes, or that they link into the same processes that occur during R.E.M. sleep. Eye movements have been shown to decrease traumatic distress and increase one's capacity to recognize information that is both healing and true. This book includes case examples and journaling tools.
Gifts of Imperfection
by: Brene Brown
Research Professor Brene Brown of the University of Houston presented one of the top five most-viewed Ted Talks of all time, (and her topic was shame!) Take a look: https://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_on_vulnerability
. Since then, she has written extensively on the subject of shame, the power of vulnerability, and whole-heartedness.
by: Vann Joines and Ian Stewart
Vann Joines played a pivotal role in how I practice psychotherapy which is to notice and harness the value of the person's personality adaptation rather than to pathologize and eradicate it. Though this book is geared toward clinicians, my clients have found it to be a clear and straightforward book on personality development.
Psyche and the Sacred: Spirituality Beyond Religion by: Lionel Corbett
If you want to explore your spirituality without the trappings of traditional organized religion, Lionel Corbett makes an excellent guide.
The Three Marriages
by: David Whyte
The Three Marriages: Reimagining Work, Self and Relationship, Whyte writes these words about the tensions that exist between the roles we play in life: To the outward striver— that is, most of us— it can seem as if this internal marriage is asking for a renunciation of the two outer marriages. Feeling this can come as almost a relief, a way out, for in the name of our many responsibilities and duties, we can use it as the perfect excuse not to look inside at all, feeling as if our outer world will fall apart if we spend any time looking for the person who exists at the intersection of all these outer commitments
David Whyte is an inspiring speaker. Here is a link to a TedTalk he made in 2017. Click Here For Ted Talk
To Bless the Space Between Us
by: John O'Donohue
There are no trite platitudes in this book. From the author of Anam Cara (see above) is this lovely book of extraordinary blessings which, in their accurate empathy for the reader confronting momentous life experiences, whether in grief or joy, novelty or certainty, offer encouragement which is both deep and beautiful.
Waking The Tiger: Healing Trauma
Peter Levine is a medical biophysicist and psychologist who, through his forty years of work in the field of stress and trauma, has developed a therapy model called Somatic Experiencing. This text guides readers to develop increasing tolerance for difficult bodily sensations and the suppressed emotions that accompany them. It is a good read for those who want to understand more fully about the somatic aspects of trauma.
What Matters Most
by: James Hollis
This author poses the questions that most deeply disturb us, keep us awake at night, and have the potential to draw us into a deeper, more considered life.
Dance of the Dissident Daughter
by: Sue Monk Kidd
Before the author wrote her highly acclaimed novels, including The Secret Life of Bees, something had to give. The author is a former writer of spiritual memoirs about contemplative Christianity, the exemplary wife of a southern minister. This is the story of how she came to doubt her faith. Not knowing what would become of her marriage, her reputation and her self-image, she allowed herself to explore the calling, and her creativity flowed. The painful dilemma is one anyone can relate to who has had a crisis of faith. Kidd models integrity and provides hope for those who begin to answer the call for individuation wherever it may lead.
The Heart of Centering Prayer:
Nondual Christianity in Theory and Practice
by: Cynthia Borgeault
This book is not just a Christian “take” on meditation; this seems a different form of meditation altogether. Rather than focusing on the breath, we inhabit the heart. For some, this allows a total bypass of years of meditation practice right to the experience of non-duality. I may be oversimplifying it, but this is what this meditation does for me: instead of just a re-set so that I can re-engage more fully with the physical world, this book helps me touch into a realm that is infinitely more restorative and peaceful. Interested not only in spirituality but in the neurology behind this kind of meditation, the author explains the science behind centering prayer, referring to recent research findings as well as scholarly insights from many religions and even a fourteenth century text. So compelling; the most interesting book on meditation I’ve read.
The Hero Within: Six Archetypes We Live By
by: Carol Pearson
The true hero, according to this book, is one who learns the lessons of Innocent, Orphan, Wanderer, Warrior and Magician. Through identification with each of these archetypes we can work past the limiting stories we tell about ourselves and expand into a more fully realized person. Each archetype responds to problems uniquely and so if we learn the lessons of each, we will be much more sophisticated in how we manage the complexities of life.
Legacy of the Heart: The Spiritual Advantages of a Painful Childhood
by: Wayne Muller
For adult children of childhood trauma, this book can renew hope and optimism. So often our traumas leave us feeling damaged or flawed. The author makes a strong argument to the contrary: defenses developed in childhood are to protect the child from suffering. To heal in adulthood we need to allow the part of the self that never suffered before to suffer. The adult can do this for the child in a way the child never had capacity for.
Muller writes of transmuting pain into a resilience that is permanent and sustaining: The private place to which a traumatized child flees remains the adult's spiritual home.
Myth and Knowing: An Introduction to World Mythology
by: Scott Leonard and Michael McClure
An all-encompassing book about the psychological, religious and cultural meanings of myths. The book is a good introductory text—with maps and photos—to mythology around the world. More importantly, this text introduces us to the concept that we can better understand what gives life meaning by relating to mythology in a personal way that is much deeper than just hearing a story.
Return of the Mother
by: Andrew Harvey
Andrew Harvey is an exceptionally brilliant and passionate author of more than 30 books. As a student of Hindu, Tibetan and Christian spiritual teachers and Rumi translator, his idea is that a “new spiritual age is potentially dawning for humankind…in which the divine could be present intimately, normally, consciously, in all things and activities. ” He believes this dawning is the result of reawakening the sacred feminine found in most world faiths.
Sixty Second Memory Journal:
A Yearlong Happiness Chronicle
by: Inc. Sterling Publishing Co.
This is a little book you write. Each evening, you scan your memory for what went well, what you accomplished, or for what you feel grateful. Each morning, you plan to make it a meaningful day by writing down the most important thing to accomplish. Research tells us this practice of intention and gratitude shift our thinking from negative outcomes to positive ones, and elicit a surge of feel good hormones like dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin. It is impossible to feel anxiety while practicing gratitude. Personal experience tells me that this practice has lifted my efficiency, kept my spirits up during a very hard time and helped me to land on islands of feeling good when they might otherwise have been hard to find.
The Way of Passion: A Celebration of Rumi
by: Andrew Harvey
The book is about Rumi, and so much more. Harvey weaves Rumi’s poetry into his spiritual awarenesses, pointing that our world is on the precipice of an entirely new consciousness. There is a marvelous passage in the book (pp -) which helps my clients understand what stages to expect along the hero’s journey from trauma to transformation. People do not want a watered down version of the steps toward enlightenment; they want to read truthful, deep, unvarnished truths, and Harvey delivers. Even in the hearing of how hard the journey is, we feel edified by his candor. Our self esteem rises because of his decision to level with us about the difficulty and intensity of true commitment to devotion to life, to another person, to healing. I’ve been reading this book, and will continue to, for years.
Women Who Run with Wolves:
Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype
by: Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes
Dr. Estes has pulled together stories from around the world and from many cultures which have the theme of reclaiming the feminine divine. What does it mean exactly to be divinely feminine? Across cultures, in folklore, dream symbols and mythology, the qualities of aliveness, creativity, sexuality, daring and wisdom are revealed over and again, once the restraining forces can be overcome.