8 books that have rocked my world

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The books that I need to read always seem to find me. I have never been one to make lists of titles I want to read. If I am in a bookshop, I always trust that the right book will become clear to me and most of the time it works. Or I trust that books will cross my path through recommendations or presents. Airport bookshops particularly have thrown great books my way. These 8 books are mostly recent reads from the last 4 years and all have really rocked my world for different reasons.They are all on a similar theme of finding happiness, joy and peace. So in no particular order:

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

I came across this book via a video that she had made about taking her daughter to school on the bus. She had a sudden realisation that she might be wasting her life and she woke up to the thought that ‘this was it’ and that ‘the days are long but the years are short’. The book is all about her year long quest to find out what really made her happy and she deals with different topics each month like love, friendships, work etc.

It really resonated with me on so many levels – having children particularly can make time feel like sand flowing through your fingers. Reading this book inspired me to be more conscious every day and to make some decisions about changing my work hours to be with my kids, using my Daily Greatness journal to set daily goals and to think about my priorities. It also helped me to begin to think about what really makes me happy.

An Extraordinary Absence by Jeff Foster

I love Jeff Foster’s work. He is a true mystic and poet and his books are experiential. Reading this book uses language to point to the very thing he is speaking about which is that there is only this moment and that our entire lives exist in the space of now. That our true home exists right in the centre of our ordinary lives and yet we spend so much of our lives seeking something else away from this moment. This book made me feel very safe and very peaceful. I went to a workshop of his last year too and being around him is a very peaceful experience.

‘There is only this. Only what’s happening. To the person, that can sound terribly depressing. And yet when heard in clarity, it’s explosively liberating’

Reasons to stay alive by Matt Haig

This book stopped me in my tracks. It’s extraordinarily beautiful. It’s about Matt Haig’s recovery from a mental breakdown and how he learned to love life and the world again. It’s about all that is beautiful in the world and the things that keep him here. It’s so life affirming  and it reminded me how beautiful life is and how there is so much to be grateful for. It’s full of joy.

Dying to be me by Anita Moorjani

Another extraordinary book. Anita Moorjani writes about having end-stage cancer and then having a near death experience that healed her completely and how she chose to come back into the world to share a message of healing. Its the message of the book that struck me the most- that really all we are here to do is live our lives with joy. That being here and being ourselves and shining as ourselves is the only thing we ever need to do. Its a book about accepting ourselves and loving ourselves and being true to ourselves.

– Stuffocation by James Wallman

This book is basically about the fact that we all have too much material stuff and its making us ill and unhappy. That we all have more ‘things’ than we will ever need and it hasn’t made us liberated- its just made us sick as we spend our lives working more just to keep all this stuff ticking over. He talks about becoming ‘experientialists’ or spending our time and money having experiences rather than accumulating more things.

This book totally resonated with my core. I have never been particularly motivated by material status and things and have spent a lot of time travelling and living out of a rucksack and yet in recent years and especially since having children, I am weighed down by possessions. And I literally feel weighed down by them. This book isn’t just about decluttering, which in itself is great, but is a guidebook for living a different life and I loved it.

– Loving what is by Byron Katie

‘Who would you be without your story’. This book properly rocked my world. Its all about how the stories we tell ourselves about who we are aren’t true and that by questioning them, we can find peace. Katie herself had a spontaneous enlightenment experience after suffering with depression for many many years. She literally woke up one day and all stories had vanished and all that was left was peace and joy. Out of that experience came ‘the work’ which are a series of questions to help you challenge and turn around your stories. For me, the thought that I could basically drop all the stories about myself that weren’t serving me and were basically making me unhappy was life changing. I remember feeling an extraordinary sense of peace after trying ‘the work’. I have an app on my phone that she has created where you can ‘do the work’ whenever you want. I love this book.

– Light is the new black by Rebecca Campbell

I am actually still finishing this book as I write this but its been so revelatory, I had to add it to the list. The book is all about being a light worker and finding what it is that ‘lights you up’ in the world. She talks about how finding this and then embodying it is what we are all here to do. The book is written in very short chapters, most of which are a page or two and the book just shines with energy and light. ‘Follow what lights you up and you’ll light up the world’. It inspired me to make sense of this blog and my instagram page and inspired me to keep going with it. Beautiful, inspirational stuff.

-The Space within by Michael Neill

‘There is a space within you where you are already perfect, whole and complete. It is a space of pure consciousness- the space inside which all thoughts come and go’

I have left one of my favourites until last as I truly love this book and keep going back to it. It is all about ‘finding your way back home’ and is all about what he calls ‘inside out’ living. The whole book puts you in a space of meditation without meditating and its all about how living from the peaceful place within us is all we are here to do. He has a great TED talk called Why aren’t we awesomer where he talks about ‘inside out’ living.

This book feels like a book I would take to a desert island if I could only choose a couple to take with me. It just feels so alive and wise and full of truth and it speaks to that place inside like very few books I have read that are on this theme.

I love how books expand us and challenge us and propel us further on our journey back to our selves and on our journey to a joyful, peaceful life.

 

 

5 ways to create a different energy (when it seems like nothing at all is working)

The last few years in my life have been difficult. Its been like wading through thick, dark sticky mud at times. I’ve experienced death of a loved one and major job loss in my family. I’ve felt very much that nothing was working, flowing, in sync. That I wasn’t able to manifest. That I was stuck. That nothing would ever change. That every day was the same as the last. It’s a dark place to be as you start to lose hope and faith that you can ever change anything at all and that life will ever be different. I have felt the walls of a dark tunnel suck me down.

I sat in my car just before Christmas and everything seemed particularly dark. I have always had faith in my ability to change my circumstances and to change my life in any way that I set my mind on. I have always considered myself a positive force. On this particular day, I had been talking to one of the parents at my kid’s school. They were just about to go skiing for the winter holidays and I had mentioned to them that it was one of my ambitions to learn how to ski. But then, later on, I had this thought process, ‘What makes you think that will ever happen? You are 43, time is running out, you have no money, life is passing you by, you keep saying you will do these things and yet you don’t, you can’t make anything happen’. YUK.

I also got into the self pity vibe too. ‘Everyone else seems to be able to create change. Everyone else has good things happen to them. Everyone else has stuff handed to them and I don’t. Why doesn’t anything good ever happen to me’. POOR FUCKING ME. DOUBLE YUK.

I think we get into these patterns a bit out of habit and a bit through the ground-hog day nature of daily life. Life can become very unconscious and very mundane and very auto-pilot if we aren’t careful. And then it feels like nothing does change and that we are stuck.

After a few days of total self indulgence and a lot of inward looking angst , I decided that I needed to get a grip and do something, anything, to get me out of the downward spiral of doom. I decided to take a long hard look at what it was I had been doing and what I wasn’t doing to support positive change. Its very easy to get into cycles of negativity and I find it particularly hard in the daily routines of my life to create immediate big change. I am a busy mum, I have a virtually full time job and 2 children, a home to run and a social calendar of kids clubs and parties. I find it very hard to find any time for myself to even think about the things I want to do differently. I knew, though, that I had to create a different energy to that of recent years and to commit to doing things differently. I had to set a new intention.

My 5 ways to create a different energy. 

1/ TAKE A BREAK FROM YOUR DISTRACTIONS (even for a short space of time). Alcohol, drugs, shopping, social media, whatever they are have a hypnotic effect that’s very distracting. I have decided to stop drinking alcohol for a year. I love a drink and I am known for being the first in the pub and the last one standing so it’s a big deal for me. Distractions create a unconscious energy and it numbs you to life, to energy and your power. I want to feel awake and alive and present in every moment.

2/ WRITE A JOURNAL. Get it all out on paper. I tend to have a few on the go at any given time that serve different purposes for me. One is a stream of consciousness, get everything off my chest rant. It helps me to get everything that’s on my mind out onto paper and to get a perspective. Try not to judge it and just write (see The Artist’s Way Daily pages as a good example of this). The other way that I keep a journal is much more structured and all about goal setting. I have a Daily Greatness Journal which I love and helps me focus every day on the good things I want to achieve and focus on and also to practise gratitude every day. It has a section where you can set your dreams and ambitions for the future. I have bought a new journal for 2017 and have committed to write every day in it. If you have never written before, give it a go.

3/ READ INSPIRING BOOKS (and trust that there is a serendipity to those that come to you). It has always been my experience that the books you need to read will come to you at the right time. I have never kept lists of things I want to read- I just trust that the right book will end up in my hands and generally that has always been the case. I am mostly a reader of non- fiction (although I do sometimes like a good novel). Recent good reads have been ‘The Space within’ by Michael Neill, ‘Life without a centre’ by Jeff Foster and ‘The Universe has your back’ by Gabby Bernstein. There has been a theme to them for sure. I am currently working through the exercises in the Gabby Bernstein book. All 3 of these are great explorations of inner space and will create a shift in your thinking.

4/ GET SOME FOCUSED SUPPORT. I have had life coaching and energy healing in the last couple of years. I have also had some cranio-sacral treatments and acupuncture. Speaking to someone else with an expertise in helping you and also who is rooting for you in every way is good for the soul. Most people have some issues that they struggle to deal with or need to work through and talking to someone else and getting some healing really helps to break long held patterns. Talk to someone out of your normal circle, get a new perspective and set some new goals for 2017. It really helps to create new energy.

5/ DO SOME DIFFERENT STUFF. Take a walk, go on a road trip, fly in a plane, go to a new class. Last year I went camping, went to Glastonbury Festival, visited France and Spain and started zumba classes. I took my 9 year old son on a 5 mile beach walk and went for  picnics in the hills near where I live in the south of England. I joined the national trust and took my kids to new gardens and houses. Doing different stuff makes me feel happy and pushes my boundaries. I am about to start a yoga class. The other commitment that I am making to myself this year is to meditate every single day, even if its just for 10 minutes. In my busy life, I feel like its the only way that I am truly going to give myself some quiet, focused space each day. Make a commitment to try one small thing that’s new or out of your comfort zone.

I have come to see that creating change requires doing things differently, but those things might be little daily changes. Its about a different energy.  My mantra for 2017 is to choose a different path and create a different energy. It’s the little things that often turn out to be the big things.