On the mindful spiritual path, sometimes it's difficult to know where to begin, but you can always begin right where you are. Here are a few resources to get you thinking & practicing—they include books & podcasts, full of essays, prayers, sermons (?!) & interviews that many have found inspiring, encouraging—maybe even enlightening. Feel free to drop a line through the Contact page & let me know what's been helpful or interesting, & what questions
you're sitting with lately...
Nonviolent Communication, by Marshall Rosenberg
A clear, straightforward introduction to listening and speaking without aggression by learning to empathize with ourselves and others, identifying feelings and the needs that underlie them.
How to Meditate, by Pema Chödrön
A wonderful and simple introduction to the concept, the purpose, and the most basic instructions of silent (mindfulness/awareness) meditation from a renowned American Buddhist teacher. The subtitle is, "A Practical Guide to Making Friends with Your Mind."
Venite, a Book of Daily Prayer, by Robert Benson
A fresh & inclusive condensed version of the Book of Common Prayer, designed for daily home use by everyday Christians. Includes beautiful translations of all the Psalms, & key teachings from the Gospels.
The World's Wisdom, by Philip Novak
A thorough & inclusive collection of excerpts from sacred texts of all the world's religions, from recorded matter from the oral traditions of shamanic cultures to the best-known passages of Hebrew & Christian scriptures, with almost no commentary. The result is a fresh glimpse into both familiar & unfamiliar readings, & the chance to make up your own mind about the content.
The Seeker's Guide, by Elizabeth Lesser
A spiritual memoir interspersed with teachings from various traditions & exercises for the reader to help navigate four "landscapes" of the spiritual journey: mind, heart, body, & soul. Thoughtful, honest & deep, Lesser attempts an "American spirituality" that makes plenty of space for individuality & multiculturalism.
Tara Brach is an American Buddhist meditation teacher. She offers beautiful, simple guided meditations on many topics, which are free on this site.
A podcast from the Center for Action and Contemplation, offering "a modern take on the historical contemplative practices of Christian mystics like Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross" by James Finley, a psychologist and former monk who studied under Thomas Merton.
A podcast by ecumenical Christian thinker and pastor-at-large, Rob Bell, who intersperses surprisingly fresh, engaging, inclusive, non-judgy) sermons with interviews of thinkers and influencers of various faith traditions and none.
On Being with Krista Tippett:
An NPR podcast where Tippett discusses various humanist and spiritual themes with one to three speakers. Her guests are sometimes world-famous, sometimes lesser-known, & range from artists & poets to activists & scientists. Unedited interviews also available; I prefer the polish of the edited versions.
Father Richard Rohr, an ecumenical, interfaith teacher from the Franciscan tradition in conversation with two of his younger students, discussing themes & ideas from his newest book, The Universal Christ.
Rabbi Sharon Brous TED Talk:
Brous argues it is time to reclaim & revitalize religion----they all include the raw material, she says, of compassion, kindness & forgiveness.
Meditation 101 w/Dan Harris:
This 2-minute animated video from Happify clarifies the basic instruction
& benefits of seated meditation.
A beautiful, uplifting talk in which Muslim imam Feisal Abdul Rauf draws on Sufi poet Rumi, & the teachings of Muhammad & Jesus to show how the ego stands in the way of compassion.
Universal Themes of Mindfulness:
Mindfulness teacher Susan Kaiser Greenland uses these charming illustrations of birds by Lindsay duPont to depict various themes & ideas common to all forms of mindfulness practice & meditation, like joy and awareness.
Source of Compassion:
In another animated short from Happify, Sharon Salzberg suggests compassion arises from paying attention to one another.
(Formerly called Stop, Breathe & Think: A simple way to check in with your thoughts & feelings during the day. After a brief assessment, the app suggests various guided meditations. I like everything about this app, including the voices of the teachers & the content. Aimed at young people, it has a gentle, supportive tone, & will track your progress and the moods you log in as well. There is a subscription option, but lots on offer for free.
I love the images on this app, the nature sounds, and especially the breathing exercises, which offer a visual aid & instruction to help you breathe more deeply & slowly. The guided meditations feel less organic to me. It's important to find meditation leaders whose voices you find soothing. Again, a subscription option, but good content for free.
This is the app I use morning and night, when I wake up, when I sit with my therapy lamp in the winter months, and as I fall asleep. Favorite guided meditations are from Tomek Wyczesany and fave music from Sonic Yogi.
Guided meditations with proven health benefits. I have used the programs for anxiety and panic, as well as "successful surgery" with great effect; friends have had wonderful experiences with the tracks for depression and fighting cancer.
Tools for Empathy
Two tools that have been most helpful to me over the last few years, in my efforts to cultivate empathy for myself and others (in addition to the spiritual practices of prayer, meditation, 12 steps, and yoga), are the Enneagram and Nonviolent Communication.
Sounds True offers a 10+hour course from Marshall Rosenberg on Nonviolent Communication. A friend and I took it together and discussed/practiced during the lockdown to create more positive connection.