I’ve taken upon myself to make some really difficult choices and write about spiritual reads for women. Not because there are not enough of the books to be included but because there so many and some are just plain beautiful! If you revel in women’s spiritual wisdom from the likes of Denise Linn, Nancy Lonsdorf, Elizabeth Jenkins and every mama’s guru Gurmukh, treat yourself and read on!
Women by their nature love change. This really is good news when it comes to self-development. This is even better for spiritual development. There is a myth that all things spiritual are always lovey dovey, quick, and easy beauty. This however is not exactly the full truth. Any spiritual wisdom worth its salt once put into practice will work and when it does without fail it will bring change. For some people change is an unwelcome thing. For the ones who don’t like change, it’s perhaps best to tread carefully, not to jump too quickly onto the path of spiritual growth, because if they do, change will knock on their door sooner or later, whether they want it or not. But change, it seems, is always for the best, especially the one you are dreading. It really is just your soul’s way of ‘butterflying’ – growing into a more powerful and beautiful self. The real truth is, most people want to change, and even fantasise about it at times, however often they do nothing about it. Change does not have to be hard or ugly; however it is, as a rule, a bit scary. This never the less, does not make it less pleasant or desirable on the long run, especially for an awesome woman on a spiritual path!
Now how does this link to the books? Well I have been reading this sort of stuff for (ahem, many, many, many..) years, and have embarked on a change or two myself. I wanted to pick some books which will do one of the two things. Either fiercely instigate change or just simply enable one to find beauty within and flow with life’s changes a bit more gently. So, from a major pile I went for the books which are not necessarily the newest (although some are) but the ones which made the most difference to woman’s spirituality over the past decades. I urge you to have an open mind as with everything spiritual. What’s in the pages of these books is not what you might expect because if you did you would not need them after all. So let’s have a look at what’s on offer.
Perhaps best to start with ‘Shakti Woman’ by the not so well known, but nevertheless significant Vicki Noble. This is not a book for the fainthearted! Vicki is a fierce spiritual feminist who knows her stuff. This book is a raw recollection of a powerful spiritual awakening during times when women were, well, expected to stay at home and bring up children – all in the 20th Century in the US! What I really liked about this book is that Vicki is very well informed about female history, artefacts, rituals and original female religious and spiritual paths. She touches upon shamanism and everything she writes is either useful, informative or plain infuriating! She informs womankind about their past, and the importance of their biology in the religion and spirituality of old. All of this while one cannot help but realise there is a strong indication that women were brainwashed and stripped of their original power over the past five thousand years to make sure the patriarchy took hold and survived. Many women reported being furious after reading the pages upon pages of this stuff they thought was either hidden from them or made them think was somehow bad or embarrassing. Noble touches upon many myths and even more taboos relating to women’s biology, reproductive powers and significance of the above to the original religion and further to modern day abuses of the feminine.
If you like this book, perhaps a lighter reading, served well with this one would be a well-known novel (recently televised) The Red Tent, written by an exceptionally interesting American writer Anita Diamant. Within its pages you will find some well described, perhaps a bit shocking rituals of an ancient and primal female religion! For a 21st century woman, divorced from her roots and her ancient power, this might be another rather uncomfortable eye opener.
The next one is by Denise Linn and it is called ‘Unlock the Secret Messages of Your Body!: A 28-Day Jump-Start Program For Radiant Health And Glorious Vitality’. Denise has another book similar to this one with more of a strictly spiritual focus ’Soul Coaching, 28 days to discover the real you’, however I suggest anyone who wishes to do this and has not done much in the way of spiritual development as yet should start with the first one. This is because ‘freeing your spirit’ through solving your body blockages can be easier for a lot of people in the world where anything material is seen as ‘more real’. The transition from what you can pinch in ‘reality’, to what you can sense spiritually is much smoother this way.
So, the (body) book itself is an interesting manual for a rapid physical, spiritual, emotional change. In its essence, it is a detailed set of instructions to be followed over four weeks. The content is divided by elements (earth, water, air and fire) and the work inside, the tasks set and inner journey is closely linked to the elements. I must say I did it some time ago and took it lightly as I was doing it with a view to review it here. Little did I know that I would find myself very quickly on a major rollercoaster. Before I knew it I was working through some stuff I thought was long dead and to my total surprise, during the ’water week’ I solved a long standing kidney stone problem I didn’t even know I had! It did freak me out a bit, but in the long run this was an incredible journey with tangible results. So if you are into hands-on spirituality and fancy a quick personal clearout and transformation, I suggest you give this one a go. But be warned, it does work and things will move on with some considerable speed, even if you just lightly touch upon the tasks. From what I’ve seen there is no way of predicting what will kick off.
How about some awesome home friendly Kundalini Yoga? My next choice is ‘The 8 Human Talents’ by Gurmukh (with Cathryn Mishon), one of my favourite female gurus. Gurmukh (who is so famous she needs no other name), with her colourful and at times very sad history, makes her one of the most beautiful female spiritual leaders of the 21st century. Much loved by thousands and especially by mums-to-be, she smoothly and gently pours her words off the pages. And those words are sweet, warm and comforting. As with most people who know their stuff, she is teaching some seriously complex Yoga in a very simple way. In this particular book she covers eight energetic centres in terms of Kundalini exercises anyone can do. The exercises, as with all of the Kundalini Yoga, are very powerful and work instantly, presuming they are done as instructed. This is a one-stop book for anyone who has never done any Kundalini Yoga before and who wishes to take advantage of quick exercise with fast results. It is important to point out here that Kundalini Yoga is less physically demanding than Hatha yoga, so no major fitness is necessary. The book is user friendly and it is easy to read and follow.
If you are interested in combining your spiritual development with wholesome care for your body, a touch of Ayurveda will do the trick. Here, I have chosen not one but two books by Nancy Lonsdorf MD , Ayurvedic Doctor. Ayurveda is an ancient Indian Medicine with a fully holistic outlook on life and treatments. Its aim is to balance mind and body through careful balancing of a person’s original constitution with their lifestyle, the food they eat and the climate they live in. Pretty much nothing is left out. This is why I have chosen two books, as they deal with different ages of a woman. The first one is called ‘A Woman’s Best Medicine’ and it is a most comprehensive self-care book for women of childbearing age. It combines everything from body to mind including a chapter on the influence of meditation on wellbeing and physical health. The book itself is timeless, as it is based on some four to five thousand years old knowledge, which still applies in the 21st century. So this one is for the shelf with the rest of the heirlooms! Inside, you will find your ‘dosha quiz’, to find out what your constitution type is, and what kind of lifestyle would suit it the most. She discusses disease in a very interesting way and with close links to the state of the mind. I like Linsdorf as she gives simple but powerful and cost effective solutions to difficult problems which at times are (in mainstream medicine) mostly managed with harmful, heavy chemical or hormonal preparations.
Her other book ‘The Ageless Woman, Natural Health and Beauty After Forty’ is a gem for any woman wishing to make herself healthy and prepare for change in her future. Linsdorf explains how this really should be done years ahead (starting as early as thirty years old) as the state of the woman’s body ten to fifteen years premenopausal is a telling state of the woman’s actual menopause later. She also gives interesting but again powerful remedies for self-managing any menopausal symptoms. She does this in true Ayurveda style – 100% individually designed for each woman who happens to read the book. There are easy to do tests to check which part of the body contains ‘ama’ – the buildup of impurities which are (according to Ayurveda) the main cause of disease and of course any troublesome menopausal symptoms.
To finish this very select list I want to mention a beautiful book by Gurmukh for pregnancy. I love her ‘Bountiful, Beautiful , Blissful’, a truly beautiful and bountiful book full of advice and practical spirituality for a pregnant woman. She covers everything from a woman’s relationship with herself, with her unborn child and with her partner. Gurmukh knows when to tell a story and when to give advice, and where the powerful Kundalini Yoga will do on its own. The book is deeply spiritual with page upon page of unique insights, lovely stories oozing with beauty and almost with reverence for a pregnant woman. If you need to get in touch with the full beauty of your pregnant self, if you feel alien to the state you are in, if you are worried or stressed then this book will cause you to be in awe of what and who you are at this moment. But first and foremost Gurmukh gives of what she has most, the teaching of Kundalini Yoga for pregnancy, to nourish and empower the mum to be.
With this I conclude my short list. This is not to say these are the only books worth reading, but in this short space these were the most important reads. For now. More coming soon!
By Billie Krstovic
Founder Grounding for Mindfulness Technique (GfMT) and Author of ‘Using Mindfulness to Improve Learning: 40 Meditation Exercises for School and Home’ and founder of ‘Mindfulness Concept’ and ‘Berkshire Self Development’