My first yoga teacher would frequently end class with this prayer:
May you be happy,
May you be healthy,
May you ride the waves of your life,
And may you know peace,
no matter what you are given.
I've found that certain books are good company for certain waves in your life. Here's my list of the books that keep me company when the water is choppy.
For when you feel deeply alone and like nobody else could possibly relate to your challenge:
Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed. An unconventional, previously anonymous advice column gone book that is built on radical empathy and delivers the reminder through raw stories to “trust yourself,” above all else.
I Thought It Was Just Me (But It Isn’t) by Brene Brown. Social worker and self proclaimed “storyteller/researcher,” Brene Brown unpacks what causes shame, and reminds us that the “experiences that make us feel the most alone are actually universal experiences.”
Post Secret by Frank Warren. An artistic project that invites people to share, via a creative postcard, a secret in their life. Post Secret cards have been turned into several coffee table books, as well as a blog. It is helpful to see that whatever secret you are harboring, you have company.
For when your world falls apart and you are sitting in the shattered mess of it:
Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron. In this book Buddhist nun, Pema Chodron reminds us that “suffering is part of life, and we don’t have to feel it’s happening because we personally made the wrong move.” She gives guidance on how to sit with suffering and lean into the discomfort.
Comfortable with Uncertainty also by Pema Chodron. In this book, Pema Chodron reminds us that uncertainty is the truth of life (in both good and bad times) and that we can learn to rest in the ambiguity.
For when you need to gather tools to make your world larger:
Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach. In this book Tara Brach reminds us that self-compassion is not a luxury for the idle, but rather, is vital for our health and a key ingredient to living well.
Daring Greatly by Brene Brown. In this book Brene Brown makes the case that practicing vulnerability is the most courageous act a person can do, and that doing so is the gateway into wholehearted living. She shares ways in which we can take off the “armor” and start nourishing genuine connection with others.
For when you are ready to weave your struggles into a new story:
Broken Open by Elizabeth Lesser. In this book, Lesser focuses on the power of the breakdown to be a moment of transformation rather than a moment of defeat.
Rising Strong by Brene Brown. A follow up to her previous books on the importance of cultivating vulnerability in our lives, this book talks about the inevitable falls that will accompany living wholeheartedly, and how the choices we make when we are "face down in the arena" about rising back up are as life defining as the initial choice to open to the world.
For when your soul needs stirring:
A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote. A short story that masterfully captures the full spectrum of heartbeats which living can elicit.