Spiritual Reading List
Books, especially fiction, inform my life and spiritual books certainly inform my understanding. Here is a list of books I found most helpful and interesting. They are divided into two parts: Yoga Books and other Spiritual Books. Please note I’ve read hundreds of spiritual books, many of value, but these are the only ones I recommend for everyone.
-Yoga Books -
Most yogis are familiar with the great yogi master Iyengar, but not everyone is aware that he is an astonishingly gifted writer. This makes reading his books not just informative and deep, but also an intense pleasure. And if that was just it, it would be enough to recommend reading his books for everyone, but he is also one of the wisest people to have walked the earth, at least as he appears here in the written word.
Pattabhi Jois is one of my spiritual teachers and as I love him, I treasure his book. The text manifests his remarkable voice in my mind; rich, resonant and like him, somehow larger than life. It is interesting too, because he goes through the first series here and Ashtangies will see how the practice has evolved over the years.
Three favorite quotes from Pattabhi Jois:
"Practice and all is coming; practice, practice, practice."
"The practice is the teacher. "
Finally, the answer to every question:
"YOU TAKE PRACTICE."
-The First Time I Encountered Pattabhi Jois in Spirit -
I had been practicing Ashtanga yoga for about a decade when the doors to the spiritual realm burst open. This was the year I lost my husband of thirty-five years, and then, eleven months later, our son Jonpaul, the two brightest lights in my life. It happened shortly after Pattabhi Jois transitioned as well. One day I was practicing at the shala alone, which is rare. I noticed the picture on the wall of Pattabhi Jois. I felt his presence, and imagined he was smiling at me. I threw my hands together and asked him to give Diana (my teacher) more students, that she deserved this.
He said, clear as a bell, "I want a bigger picture."
The hilarity of this struck me where I stood. I realized he was laughing, too. Next thought--Omg, I am losing my mind!
I returned to my practice and suddenly, as if to provide proof that I wasn't just imagining this, he shot pranayama into me. Even though I have been practicing yoga most all of my life, I had never experience the energetic power of pranayama like this. The gift transformed my practice. Guess what? It really is all about the breath.
Now a days, Pattabhi Jois occasionally zooms in to help me with my practice, especially pranayama, but recently, I got another message from him. It was for Tim Miller, our master Ashtangi, and Pattabhi Jois' favorite. I was told to go to Tim’s teacher training in Tulum, Mexico. I didn't want to do this for a hundred reasons, but of course it is impossible to say no.
Once there in Tulum, I saw right off how very tired Tim is. It is HARD (energetically) to give so much to your students day after day, and Tim has been Ashtanga's master teacher for decades. Then while meditating there, Pattabhi Jois zooms in with the message for Tim. This message overwhelms me; it is so beautiful it makes me cry.
Small problem. Giving Tim a message from Pattabhi Jois? Can we spell awkward?
I think I will just write the message and send it to Tim. I instantly get a powerful NO. You tell him now, Pattabhi Jois said. Keep in mind I don't hear this in the normal way of hearing, but it is still loud in my mind.
I asked Tim if I can talk to him. I don’t want Tim to think that I want something, so I add, “It’s exciting. And as you know us yogis don’t get much excitement.” He laughs at that and we go to lunch. Right off I explain that this message is NOT from me. He instantly knows what’s up; he knows who it is. I am home free to be the messenger.
Brief back story: About fifteen years ago Tim was approached by a man on death row in San Quentin. This man admitted to his guilt, and he knew remorse, that he deserved his sentence, but he was lost and he didn’t know what to do. He was contemplating suicide. He heard Tim was a great yoga teacher and he was wondering if Tim thought yoga could help someone like him. An exchange of letters began where Tim taught this special soul the Ashtanga yoga system, plus the philosophy behind it, which Tim, because of his life-long relationship to Pattabhi Jois, is uniquely, wonderfully qualified to do. This man is now a third series Ashtangi (some kind of big deal in yoga speak) and he teaches hundreds of other prisoners.
The story serves as a powerful metaphor. We are all serving sentences on death row; yoga is the path of liberation.
Thankfully, Tim happens to have a pretty impressive literary talent, and the message from Pattabhi Jois was Tim is to write up the exchange of letters as a book. The resulting book will be seminal, like Autobiography of a Yogi. It will be Tim’s life work. The message wet Tim’s eyes with tears, he threw his arms around me and that was that.
Tim is writing this book.
Ashtanga Yoga: The Practice Manual by David Swenson
HERE IS ANOTHER MAIN POINT
One of the many aspects of Ashtanga Yoga that I love is the emphasis placed on honoring your teachers; I feel an abundance of gratitude for my teachers: Diana Christianson, Tim Miller and Pattabhi Jois, a good deal more than words can ever express.
-Books on Spirit -
The Art of Happiness by the Dalai Lama.
Any and all books by the Dalai Lama are excellent spiritual texts of course and I've read them all, but this is my favorite.
Anatomy of Spirit by Dr. Caroline Myss
This book is a must read for anyone in the healing profession or for anyone in need of healing: physical, emotional or spiritual. Reading it is a powerful experience and will change your understanding of the world.
Sacred Contracts by Caroline Myss
This too, is an excellent book that provides a spiritual understand of why you are here. It might also be mentioned that Ms. Myss is an excellent writer.
Journey of Souls by Dr. Michael Newton
This book is for anyone who has ever wondered what the spiritual realm is like. I promise you it will rock your understanding of the world.
Destiny of Souls by Dr. Michael Newton
-Dr. Newton's Story -
Dr. Newton was a practicing psychologist, a cognitive behaviorist with a strong science background (like my late husband John). Dr. Newton also employed hypnotism to help clients with anxiety problems. Occasionally, a client would ask if he would do a past life regression. Dr. Newton always politely declined these requests, explaining that he didn’t believe in this. One day, a client entered a deep hypnotic state and spontaneously began describing a past life. The middle age man described being an ice delivery person in New York in the late nineteenth century. He had died in a violent accident. This too, was described in detail.
Dr. Newton was so startled by the picture his client painted, he investigated and he was able to verify many of the pertinent details from The New York Times newspaper account of the time. This was enough to send Dr. Newton investigating past lives. After a few years he had collected hundreds of past life stories through hypnosis. Many of the details of these past lives were verified through historical records. He began to find valuable therapeutic connections between past lives and current problems, which he employs to help clients in his practice.
Here’s where it gets interesting.
At some point Mr. Newton had pretty much heard it all: Roman peasant, Chinese shop owner, French farmer, African warrior, American slave—you name it and Dr. Newton has probably been there with a client. I imagine a hypnotized client describing her troubled life as Norwegian fisherman and as she skips ahead to a turn of the century American Indian, he tries to stifle a yawn, when…
Suddenly the big question pops in his mind.
What about the time in between past lives? What is this spiritual realm?
He began regressing people here, to the spiritual realm, the time and place between lives on earth.
These books describe hundreds of clients’ description of this place.
It is a fantastic portrait. It is still very much a glimpse through the veil. I invite everyone to briefly meditate on how complicated our world is: from the dynamic molecular structure of a single cell to the unimaginable vast magnitude of the universe and the infinity between. Just think of the evolutionary function of Easter egg pink in a flower or a computer that can present a detailed picture of Mars topography, every known fact on everything from the Civil War to Leonardo de Vinci, as well as your nearest dry cleaners. Reflect of how a whole lifetime can be spent studying one of a million of species of beetle and these tiny creatures will still hold mysteries for the person studying them or that scientists have captured the sound made by the collusion of two black holes billions of light years away.
Our material world is complex indeed! (Forgive me; I cannot begin to do this idea justice; I am but a piss poor writer indeed.) The consciousness that comprehends this complexity exists (somehow!) inside of three pounds of meat inside our skulls. Here is the point: The spiritual realm is infinitely more complex than our material world, because the material world exists within the spiritual realm.
Point is Dr. Newton's books offer a compelling glimpse of the spiritual realm. behind the veil.
The Book of Love and Creation by Paul Selig
Any of Paul Selig’s channeled texts.
Only Paul Selig’s books are not really by him; these are channeled texts and I love the Guides who deliver them. I think of them as THE WISE ONES. They have provided amazing insights and help. They dispense spiritual wisdom and this is pretty powerful.
- Paul Selig -
One day the Book of Love and Creation appears in my inbox: I do not know how or why, but following the message, I buy the audible version and start listening. Paul's background is pretty interesting. He was for most of his adult life a popular NYU professor of writing. He kept his growing psychic and healing talents to himself and a small group of like minded friends for obvious reasons. But pretty soon he is becoming more and more famous for his mediumship and how much he helps people, until one day...
The Guides zoom in.
And as soon as I start listening to The Book of Love and Creation, the Guides zoom in to my consciousness. I get a loud, very high vibration in my ears. Omg! So, of course I listen intently and learn these things:
We are constantly creating our reality with our choices, large and small and inbetween. With every fork in the road, uncertainty, or decision to be made, there is always a high choice. Choosing the high choice ALWAYS creates better outcomes; more love, abundance, joy and the ability to help others.
Personally, they addressed my struggle to understand reality. They said that I will be best served by imagining that reality is a colossal, magnificent work of art, one that is constantly being created (by our choices) and we are both the art and the artists in this creation. I love this!
The main (perhaps only) impediment to actualization, healing, emerging from the push and pull and struggle of the material world is... fear. People are afraid. Afraid they won’t have enough. Afraid they are not worthy of love. Afraid they will fail. Afraid of losing someone. Afraid of getting a disease. Just afraid. Much of these wonderful books teach you how to transcend fear. There is no greater spiritual gift than that.
Here’s the point for interested readers: If you start reading this book, or any of Paul’s channeled texts, the Guides zoom in and start adjusting you energetically; they adjust your consciousness so you might better grasp their teaching. YOU FEEL IT. You experience it energetically and it is pretty wonderful.
They also helped me when doing a loving kindness meditation.
One time I was looking a man I know who suffers from chronic pain. He was one of the first responders after 911 and ever since then, he experiences horrible, apparently unrelenting pain. A wave of deep sympathy came over me; I felt my heart breaking. The Guides zoomed in, and told me instead of offering sympathy, they said, it is much more powerful to instead imagine this man as his best self: pain free, full of joy, laughter and love. This was more powerful! It is good advice for all of us, I think. Instead of feeling sorry for that homeless person, take a moment to imagine them healthy, happy, and well. The Guides assure me this affects both the giver and receiver's energy field.
The Guides also sent me to one of Paul’s seminars where he channeled one of the books. I was then given a message for Paul, which surprised me, but there it was. The message for Paul was pretty powerful. (Anyone interested in this message, please contact me at and I will relate it.)
While I was there, the Guides orchestrated a different kind of miracle.
Here is what happened: Mark is a successful and famous architect, an all-around lovely person. Hitting the big 50 birthday, he began having neuropathy in one hand and in both feet. Medical doctors were not able to help him or stop its progression, which became pretty debilitating. Mark was frightened by it and tried valiantly to resist stopping work (work he loved) because of his increasing inability to manipulate a computer. He shows up at Paul’s seminar. He listens and occasionally experiences THE WISE ONES energetically.
Then while meditating, he asked for help. Suddenly a dark purple book appeared above him and he knew it was his neuropathy. It bursts into a thousand shooting lights, falling over him. THE WISE ONES tell Mark to take his good hand and hold his bad one. He does. A powerful wave of energy travels from the good hand to the bad one, up his arm and then down his body to his feet.
I witnessed this. Mark was crying; I was crying. Mark’s neuropathy was gone. He is a healthy fifty year old man again. Mark was cured.
That is just one of many experiences people have with Paul Selig’s THE WISE ONE’S.
Recently this happened: I was driving to yoga and unexpectedly Paul Selig's guides zoomed in and they told me to imagine people as God sees them--beautiful. I love this practice, but it wasn't, ah, convenient at the moment, as I was driving, but still I engaged my imagination and as I drove along suddenly all the drivers appeared as so beautiful! My heart burst open. I saw too, that no one realized how beautiful they were--the noise of life was drowning it out. This feeling overwhelmed me, when suddenly cars screeched to a halt. A homeless man in wheelchair is crossing the street.
Omg. I know him! I have exchanged pleasantries with him for decades--in fact last time I saw Lennie I said, "Lennie, do you realize we have known each other for decades?"
He laughed and said, "And Jennifer you are a special person to know."
Presently Lennie is stuck in the middle of busy street and drivers are impatient, trying to go around him. He is waving them around. I pull over to help and soon Lennie and I are on sidewalk. I ask if he is okay? He says yes and then, he asked me, "Can you do me a favor?"
"Of course," I replied, still sensing a powerful love, now bouncing between Lennie and I. "What do you need?"
He asks, strangely: "You're right handed, right?"
Yes, I nod. Though my right arm has recently accrued nerve damage from an odd bout of shingles. I say odd because I rarely, if ever get sick. The shingles only lasted two days, but there was this lingering soreness and weakness which was not that big of a deal, except it was interfering with my yoga practice.
Anyway I watched as Lennie began unwinding these grimy strips of cloth around his hand and arm. I am thinking he wants me to bind these tighter for him, but no. He offered his hand for a shake. Smiling, I shake his arm.
A magical tinkling shoots up my right arm. I feel it. Soreness is gone. Nerve damage gone. My eyes fill with tears as Lennie tells me to have a nice day and he rolls away.
This is Paul's guides at work. Find them through the channeled texts--that's my best advice.