5 mind-expanding books to read this summer

{Read the fancy version here}

My fellow earthlings, please read, enjoy and absorb the wisdom and teachings available in any or all of these fabulous volumes:

1. The Myth of Freedom and the Way of Meditation by Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche

The charismatic Tibetan Buddhist master who introduced the teachings to so many young Americans in the 1970s (including Pema Chodron and Waylon’s mom, among many others) has an uncanny way of explaining esoteric Eastern concepts to our busy busy Western minds. In this book, he details the styles of imprisonment that make us think we are free and outlines instructions for sitting meditation, from simply working with emotions to more advanced tantric techniques.

2. The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are by Alan Watts

From the preface: “This book explores an unrecognized but mighty taboo—our tacit conspiracy to ignore who, or what, we really are. Briefly, the thesis is that the prevalent sensation of oneself as a separate ego enclosed in a bag of skin is a hallucination which accords neither with Western science nor with the experimental philosophy-religions of the East—in particular the central and germinal Vedanta philosophy of Hinduism. This hallucination underlies the misuse of technology for the violent subjugation of man’s natural environment and, consequently, its eventual destruction. We are therefore in urgent need of a sense of our own existence which is in accord with the physical facts and which overcomes our feeling of alienation from the universe.”

3. SelfDesign: Unfolding Our Infinite Wisdom Within by Brett Cameron with River Meyer

Get ready for some major paradigm shifting. This concise book explains the concept behind the creation of a natural learning community in Vancouver over the past 20 years. As a professional school teacher for the past eight years, I’d become quite disillusioned with traditional schooling, grades, behavior management, curriculum and instruction—all of it. SelfDesign is the idea that we are each lifelong learners and the best way to learn is by studying what we want, when we want to. It gives concrete models and examples of how this system (similar to Waldorf and Montessori, yet perhaps even better and more comprehensive) works to transform the lives of all humans: students learners, teachers mentors and everyone.

4. How to Meditate: A Practical Guide to Making Friends with Your Mind by Pema Chodron

When I first saw this title about a year ago, I proudly thought, “Thanks anyway; I already know how to meditate!” A few months later I came to my senses and read it. Like all of Ani Pema’s books, it offers clear, concise, friendly and direct wisdom. There are so many ways to meditate. This excellent, user-friendly guide details techniques including working with sensations, emotions, thoughts and more. Definitely a great one to reference and reread regularly.

5. Happiness: A Guide to Developing Life’s Most Important Skill by Matthieu Ricard

When I see titles on happiness, I tend to look the other way. After all, the pursuit of happiness is a myth, right? Happiness cannot be pursued or pinned down. However, I’m so grateful that I broke my own rule by reading this gem of a book, which I finally finished after months of slowly savoring its contents. Buddhist monk Matthieu Ricard has thoroughly researched happiness, what it really means, what it is not, and how to practice it. So delectable!

What book or books do you wish everybody would read and put into practice?

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