This is a list of resources that I have found helpful, eye-opening and challenging on my spiritual journey up till now.
It’s all about those moments where something clicks, and your worldview is changed forever. So keeping pondering the big questions, and investigate what’s going on inside your own mind. Remember, any practice or resource only guides you towards what you already know.
A regular meditation practice is a solid foundation for spiritual progress. Rather than being mystical or other-worldly, meditation is about grounding you in your body, and becoming more familiar with your own mind so you can actually see the root of dissatisfactoriness or ‘suffering’ as it is referred to in Buddhism. It comes as no surprise that modern science is starting to find the remarkable psychological and physiological benefits of meditation.
- Mindfulness of breath, body, sounds, thoughts and feelings. ‘Mindfulness for Dummies’ is an excellent resource!
- Metta Bhavana (loving kindness) meditation: www.youtube.com/mettabhavana
- Transcendental Meditation. This course costs around £300 – £400 but is well worth the money. In just 20 minutes you can easily enter into deep meditative states and gradually bring that seed of awakening to life. www.tm.org
If you’d like a bit more guidance on your path, you need someone that speaks sense to you. For me, Jim Tolles from www.spiritualawakeningprocess.com is the best truth-speaker I’ve found. However, as Krishnamurti puts it, we need to end the idea of authority within ourselves. No one knows more about your life as it is right now, in the present, than yourself, right now, in the present. Present moment awareness is the only real gateway to truth.
3. Your Body
Awakening is all about coming out of our heads and into our body. To bring awareness to your body some excellent practices are:
- Qigong (I have found Falun Gong particularly challenging and helpful to cultivate patience)
- Walks in nature
- Regular running at a pace that suits you
- Chinese medicine for issues of imbalance in the body. Chinese medicine is a fascinating practice that is sure to receive more attention in the West.
There are tons of relevant books out there, and these are just some of the most useful ones I’ve read. I’ve listed them in order of what I found most challenging, starting with the most basic. Everything by Eckhart Tolle is a must-read.
Wherever You Go, There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn
- Fear: Essential Wisdom for Getting Through the Storm by Thich Nhat Hanh
- The Great Realizations: A Commentary on the Eight Realizations of a Boddhisattva Sutra by Venerable Master Hsing Yun
- Solitude and Loneliness: A Buddhist View by Sarvananda
- A Return to Love by Marianne Williamson
- The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
- A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle
- What the Buddha Taught by Walpola Rahula
- The Five Levels of Attachment by don Miguel Ruiz Jr.
Leap of Perception: The Transforming Power of Your Attention by Penney Peirce
- Freedom From the Known by Krishnamurti
- The Seat of the Soul by Gary Zukav
Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism by Chögyam Trungpa
A retreat is an excellent way to clear some space for yourself to see what’s actually going on in your own mind. We might feel some anxiety about this, because the ego is scared of being found out, but just have faith. The more often you are aware and in the present, the more likely it is that the dawn of insight will break.
There are retreats offered pretty much everywhere. This is one month-long retreat in Taiwan that is offered for free to students and recent graduates: www.fgs.org.tw
Vipassana retreats are also offered for free around the world: www.dhamma.org
6. Facebook Pages
Here are some awakened people you can follow on Facebook:
- Ram Dass – Love, Serve, Remember
- The Work of Byron Katie
If you don’t already, I’d recommend listening to music that stirs something in your heart. It doesn’t have to be forced, but see if you can feel something there. Music is a powerful way of connecting to our true selves, of ‘coming home’.
Below is a playlist I’ve made. Obviously everyone’s taste is different, but perhaps some of them might resonate with you. Once we cry things out we make space for something new.
There are a wide range of podcasts about spirituality and Buddhism out there. Some of the ones I’ve listened to are:
- Allan Wallace Live from Phuket
- Insight Meditation Society
- Audio Dharma
- Talks by Thich Nhat Hanh
- Mindful Living Spiritual Awakening