Spirituality is getting mainstream, isn’t it? Well, that might be a good thing. The more people get to it, the better. We’re seeing everyone doing yoga, meditation, tai chi, and other disciplines that weren’t this popular before. These are not just hobbies. Some of us might start for fun, but if we stay committed to a discipline, it brings us on the path to spirituality.
Is there spirituality in other hobbies, too? Let’s talk about one of the most traditional hobbies of all: reading. You’ll be surprised how much spiritual growth you can get from reading. This, too, is more than a hobby.
So, if you want to fully immerse in yoga and spirituality, maybe it’s time to start reading more. Of course, it’s not just about reading; it’s about reading the right books!
Why Reading Is Important for Your Inner Spirituality
Stanford researchers showed that reading provides a truly valuable exercise for people’s brains. They noticed that during reading, the participants of the study had a dramatic increase in blood flow, not only in the brain but throughout the body.
That’s science. It doesn’t show how reading makes us more spiritual, but we’ll get there.
Through reading, you collect information and grasp knowledge that the author already has. If you don’t have a spiritual teacher, you can find one in a book. Even if you do have a teacher, the guidance of books can only bring you forward on this path.
Yes, there’s some controversy in different books. You’ll find that many popular spiritual books contradict one another. Some authors tell you to preserve your sexual energy, others will recommend the opposite. That’s a good thing since it makes you think. It makes you search. It makes you put your common sense to action.
What Are the Right Books?
So you want to go on a yoga retreat in India, but you want to work on your spirituality before you get there. Do you start reading Patanjali? Do you pick up a popular psychology book? Do you choose few books by a popular yoga teacher? These might be the right reads for you. However, you shouldn’t limit your reading practice to books strictly related to yoga.
We’re trying to inspire you to do something different: find yoga philosophy in all good literature. That’s how you’ll change your mindset. That’s how you’ll see yoga present in everything.
Choose books that can be helpful for the specific situation you’re facing. If you just got out of an emotionally abusive relationship, try reading classic romance books. They will convince you that true love exists. They will show you that love is worth searching for, and you’ll learn how to respect your own virtues somewhere along the way.
Laura Donovan from Essay Geeks explains how the right book can change your life when you read it at the right moment: “There’s always a part of you that’s seeking answers to the biggest questions. Whatever troubling or happy moments we face in our lives, those questions remain. The spiritual seeker can find answers in the most unexpected books, from plays to mysteries. It’s the inner eye that sees things differently when it’s looking for answers.”
In collaboration with Laura, we created a brief list of books that can help you find your spirituality. Choose the one you think is suitable for this period of your life.
1. The Brothers Karamazov by Dostoevsky
This book is all about the eternal rivalry between the good and the bad. The battlefield? That’s our soul. It’s where God and the devil are fighting. Isn’t that similar to what all spiritual teachings are telling us? There’s an immense force of love and stillness inside us. However, we’re not all that good. The journey of spirituality is about enhancing the light, and you’ll find that very same journey in The Brothers Karamazov.
Wait, was Dostoevsky writing about enlightenment? Precisely. You won’t find the story of enlightenment solely in books written by yoga teachers. It’s everywhere. When you’re done with this book, War and Peace is the logical choice that follows. You’ll find the journey of enlightenment in Tolstoy’s work, too.
2. The Spiritual Teachings of Ramana Maharshi by Ramana Maharshi
Do you really want to read a book by a spiritual teacher? This might be the right one. Ramana Maharshi had insightful conversations with spiritual seekers from all around the world. This is the book where those conversations are collected.
This great teacher’s voice was simple, gentle, and assuring. He spoke from a place that transcended religious differences, which makes this book a universal read for everyone on this path.
3. The Art of Happiness by Dalai Lama
When psychiatrist Howard Cutler had a conversation with the Dalai Lama, he asked the questions we all have in mind. The answers led to this timeless book. The Dalai Lama teaches us that the path to happiness is paved by a disciplined mind and an attitude of compassion. A happy life doesn't come out of nowhere. It requires practice and commitment.
If you’re in a bad place right now, you probably have those questions. Why do people suffer? Why can’t we all be happy? We can be. We just need to work our way there. This is the book that will set you in the right direction.
Only three books? Well, four if we count War and Peace. You see? We made your choice easy. Pick the one that’s most attractive to you at this very moment. When you read one right book, it will lead you to others. All books on our list are precious, so make room for them in this lifetime!
You can find your inner spirituality in daily activities and hobbies. Join a yoga spiritual retreat and find out how!