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 (what?!) & interviews that many thousands 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...
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.
A weekly 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 weekly 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.
Tara Brach is an American Buddhist meditation teacher. She offers beautiful, simple guided meditations on many topics, which are free on this site.
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.
On Being with Krista Tippett:
A podcast of an NPR interview broacast, 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 to activists to scientists. Unedited interviews also available; I prefer the polish of the edited versions.
Brous argues it is time to reclaim & revitalize religion----they all include the raw material, she says, of compassion, kindness & forgiveness.
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.
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.
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 daily to time my meditations. I prefer the "Tibetan Bowl 2" gong sound.
Tools for Empathy
Two tools that have been most helpful for me over the last few years (other than the spiritual practices of prayer, meditation, 12 steps, and yoga), are the Enneagram and NVC, Nonviolent Communication.
Right now, Sounds True is offering a (discounted) 10+hour course from Marshall Rosenberg on Nonviolent Communication. I am using it to stay connected by taking it with a friend.