Svadhyaya. It is one of the niyamas (obligations) in yoga, and it means to grow our soul through spiritual texts. It is to reflect upon our own greatness and divinity. It is to constantly evolve our soul, weeding out negativity, and live for a greater good.
I have never seen anyone reading the Bible at the beach, nor the Tao Te Ching, or the Baghavad Gita. The beach seems like the right place to read a sultry novel, or to indulge in a magazine to inform us that the hottest lipstick of the season is “Relentless Red,” or shows us what Kim Kardashian looks like without makeup. Books for contemplation and introspection may be the furthest thing from your sunscreen slathered hands.
Not all books that grow our soul, however, are too heavy for a light day at the beach. In fact, you just may love getting your enlightenment under the hot sun. For some examples, check out one of the five books below:
The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom By Miguel Rui
This book examines four agreements to be made with one’s self, from the Mexican Toltec tradition. The agreements are: Be impeccable with your word; do not take anything personally; do not make assumptions; and always do your best. These four agreements are as simple as it gets, yet make a powerful impact. Just Knowing what the agreements are won’t suffice; read the book to get a better understanding on how this ancient wisdom will change your life, situation by situation. A few hours with this book will shift your perspective immensely, from the comfort of your stripe-y beach chair.
The Wisdom of No Escape and the Path of Loving-Kindness by Pema Chodron
Pema Chodron is an American Buddhist nun, the director of Gampo Abbey Monastery in Nova Scotia, and a significant influence in western Buddhism and meditation. The Wisdom of No Escape is a collection of talks she gave at a retreat in 1989.
Each short chapter is over a different subject matter; Joy, Taking a Bigger Perspective, Precision, Gentleness, and Letting Go, and Satisfaction to name a few. These may not necessarily be the things one may want to contemplate on a leisure day; nevertheless, she is so clear and palatable, that her words are simply digested, lifting your heart instantly. You might find yourself reapplying sunscreen in a more gentle, loving fashion.
You Are a Badass is possibly the funniest book you will read that inspires you to take the reigns of your life, raising your vibration and potential. If Jen Sincero wanted to get out of life coaching, I am certain she would have a good chance writing a comedy. It is light and witty, a blunt kick to the buns to reach your dreams and most confident self. She also does a great job unveiling illusions.
This is a beach read not to be missed. Bring a pen and a piece of paper for Sincero’s exercises. You will be both entertained and truly inspired.
Even if you’ve read this book before, it is a book worth revisiting at the beach. The Seven Spiritual Laws is simply a guidebook for living, and it’s kind of funny, because it is short and incredibly clear. Each chapter is a few pages long, making it convenient to soak up a concept, shut your eyes a few moments to let it marinate, read the next chapter, and in a few hours, the book is finished. It is of course Deepok Chopra, so you know it is going to be awesome.
This book is a sweet collection of stories about a fabled holy man, who people travel far and wide to seek advice from. The Holy Man has universal appeal; each chapter highlights a different seeker, each person wanting happiness in one form or another. Some find answers in line, some from the holy man, and some had their answers all along.
With the short chapters and a new character for each one, you can put the book down and pick it back up for some sweet “aha” moments between naps, swims and snacks.
There are, of course, so many exceptional light, short, soul-quenching books to satisfy svadhyaya. Feel free to add any reads in the comments box! I hope you enjoy a few good lazy days with a book in the sun this Summer!
Also by Jessica Riley-Norton: The Road Back – A Story of Recovery
More in Balance: 4 Ways to Find More Peace in Everyday Life
Photo: Steve Bennett via Flickr