I’ve read a lot of books in my lifetime, therefore choosing the most influential book I have ever read is a real challenge.
So much so, that I couldn’t choose one. Luckily for me there are three books that jump out at having helped provide guidance, inspiration, and helped to define my life.
Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype by Clarissa Pinkola Estes
One day in February 2013 I woke up lost, listless, and sad. After surviving a hellish 2012 where I nearly lost my partner from a devastating accident and a near death experience, I started 2013 believing that I had truly found myself. Unfortunately, this turned out to be a temporary period of elation as life started crumbling around me again, or rather my alter ego kicked in – that is the ‘self-saboteur’.
I stopped writing. I stopped blogging. I stopped taking photos. I stopped eating well. I stopped caring. I stopped everything aside from crying. I was doing a hell of a lot of crying. Yep, the black dog was back nipping at my heels and I was f*#cking up my life yet again.
And then I picked up Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype by Clarissa Pinkola Estes. Key epiphany number 462:
While the cause of much human suffering can be traced to negligent fostering, there is also within the psyche naturally an innate contra naturam aspect, an “against nature” force. The contra naturam aspect opposes the positive: it is against development, against harmony, and against the wild. It is a derisive and murderous antagonist that is born into us, and even with the best parental nurture the intruder’s sole assignment is to attempt to turn all crossroads into closed roads. This predatory potentate shows up time after time in women’s dreams. It erupts in the midst of their most soulful and meaningful plans. It severs the woman from her intuitive nature. When its cutting work is done, it leaves the woman deadened in feeling, feeling frail to advance her life; her ideas and dreams lay at her feet drained of animation. Clarissa Pinkola Estes
Now I wasn’t a big non-fiction reader back then – I generally struggled to make it through an entire self-help book even though my bookshelf was 1/4 full of them, but Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype triggered the lifting of a thick fog that threatened to engulf me and destroy my life and relationship. It’s so surreal how something comes into your life at such a crucial point. Whether it’s the universe, god, Kismet, craving or coincidence…I’m not a religious or ‘woo-woo’ person but I can’t argue with the fact that over the last few years I have received ‘signs’ at critical points in my life. Whether this is because I am more open and receptive than I once was, am older and wiser, or there is something bigger at play, whatever it is, I am thankful for it.
Though fairy tales end after ten pages, our lives do not. We are multi-volume sets. In our lives, even though one episode amounts to a crash and burn, there is always another episode awaiting us and then another. There are always more opportunities to get it right, to fashion our lives in the ways we deserve to have them. Don’t waste your time hating a failure. Failure is a greater teacher than success.
We see Louise Hay affirmations everywhere, but to be honest, before I read this book in 2011 I had never heard of the woman of this book that has changed so many people’s lives!
You Can Heal Your Life was my first real introduction to the concept that one can actually heal their life, and to the power of thought – or rather thoughts influence over the body. Sure, I didn’t truly realise this until 2014 when I discovered mindfulness, but it was the start of a period of self-discovery that led me to now…
The Miracle of Mindfulness – The Classic Guide to Meditation by the World’s Most Revered Master – Thich Nhat Hanh
Don’t let this tiny book deceive you. It’s small but boy does it pack one (mindful) punch!
I recently started reading The Miracle of Mindfulness for the second time and it does not disappoint. Spawned from a letter written by Buddhist Monk and Nobel Peace Prize Nominee Thich Nhat Hahn (pronounced Tik · N’yat · Hawn), The Miracle of Mindfulness describes the practice of mindfulness through anecdotes whilst also providing practical exercises with the aim to help people arrive at greater sense of self-understanding and peacefulness, regardless of their religious beliefs.
The Miracle of Mindfulness helped me carry the practice of mindfulness beyond the classroom into my home, whether to remind me of the core principles of mindfulness, or to help D remind me to focus on washing the dishes to wash the dishes…rather than to wash the dishes to solve the problems of the world, plan a project and a wedding, run a business, cook dinner, dry the dishes in the dish strainer whilst breaking and washing other dishes and…
…I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth. Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don’t even recognise: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child – our own two eyes. All is a miracle.
What the most influential book you have ever read? I’d love to hear about it and I’m sure I’d love to read it!
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