In my last post, I wrote about getting our story straight, and I said that I’d talk about supports that help us in this process so that we can and live with more health, vivacity, creativity and agency.
Sometimes we turn to a friend, a partner, an activity we love when we want to come into alignment. Sometimes we turn to meditation and physical practices. Sometimes, also, books can help us align with ourselves and with the world.
As the top administration in DC is telling a story that is both inauthentic and dangerous, I’ve been thinking increasingly about the power of stories and the stories to support us in being who we want and are meant to be.
How we think, what we believe about the world, provides the platform and paradigm through which we move our body and interact with others.
The Buddha taught that there is no force more powerful than the mind. As the Dalai Lama has said, “The source and cause of peace and happiness is the mind,” or as Hamlet says: “there is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.”
From my childhood through my twenties, I primarily read literature—novels, poetry, memoir. Literature was a way to deepen my own sense of humanity and made the world seem more knowable, more lovable, more understandable. In the past fifteen years, after finishing my more formal education and embarking on my own intensive journey in search of meaning, I’ve read more and more nonfiction, which has introduced me new possibilities and ways of seeing and thinking. Both literature and nonfiction have opened for me whole new ways of imagining, interacting with and being in the world—and in myself.
It is not too much to say that books have changed my world—both outside and inside.
There are many, many books that I find transformative, and I’m putting together a list that I’m excited to share over the next few weeks.
This week, I want to start with some books by Thich Nhat Hanh.
In a world so full of competition and stress, we can sometimes feel lost in the struggle between what we would like to see and what we actually see, between our own own compassion and our worry that we will be run over if we slow down, Thich Nhat Hanh gives us the tools to embrace our own humanity, to calm our nervous system and to get at the heart of truth, without illusion.
A realist, a deeply engaged monk who lived through decades of war in Vietnam, Thich Nhat Hanh teaches true peace, both inside and out.
These are the books that I recommend starting with:
The Heart of the Buddha’s Teachings—this is a comprehensive teaching of Thich Nhat Hanh’s understanding of the major teachings of Buddhism.
Fragrant Palm Leaves: Journals 1962-1966. This is a great look at the young Thich Nhat Hanh where he is in America, often homesick, and worried about the war at home, and testing his thinking in a new environment and a difficult time.
Peace is Every Step. This book is a great overview and introduction to the practice of mindfulness.
I read and reread these books, and every time I discover new things in them. I invite you to explore the ways in which your own reading/thinking experiences have affected your whole self—not just your mind, but also your body and spirit.
Over the next few weeks, as spring comes, I’m going to be offering a number of different workshops and classes that help us come into greater alignment and agency. I’d love to see you at them, so please reach out with any questions. You can see more about them on my website: www.nadiacolburn.com.
March 11: Om Namo Center, 1:30-4. Embrace and Let Go: Writing and Yoga Workshop. Whatever is happening around us, we have the capacity to bring our own lives into alignment. In this yoga and writing workshop, you will be given tools to reconnect with yourself and your truth by bringing mind and body together. Studies have shown the positive health benefits of writing through emotional blocks; these benefits are amplified when we allow the mind and body to enter into dialogue and learn from one another. Designed for writers and non-writers alike and for yogis of all levels, the workshop will offer practices that you can use in your life after the workshop See more here
March 25. Inner Evolution for Women: 1:00-4:00pm with Jessica Ronalds, LMHC, Acton, MA
I’m very excited to be offering this afternoon session with therapist Jessica Ronalds to deep healing and clearing work for women to start spring with our full vitality.
Is part of you looking for something more? Do you get inklings that haven’t been able to pay attention to?
The world is pulling you in a hundred different directions,and you often feel spent, but you are ready to live with more authenticity, agency and power. In this workshop, we’ll use meditation, some easy writing exercises, conversation and simple movements to come back into our centers, re-align our bodies, minds and spirits, and remember who we really are. Contact me for more information.
Mid-April: New sessions of my online class, Align Your Story, a unique deeply integrative approach to writing with close readings, yoga and meditation.
This is my signature ten week class, and once you enroll you have access for life. I now also have a premium option for more in depth support and feedback. See more at www.alignyourstory.com
Mid April: New sessions of my in-person poetry and creative prose classes will open.
Contact me for more information and to be put on a list. These are great communities of writers and appropriate for writers at all levels. See more at www.nadiacolburn.com
April 2, 2017 4pm
Friday April 28th: Grub Street, A Larger Purpose: Why Your Writing Voice Matters. Boston. 6-9pm. see more here https://grubstreet.org/findaclass/class/a-larger-purpose-why-your-writing-voice-matters/
Saturday, April 29th Copper Beach, West Hartford CT: Breathing Out Fear. A Day long retreat to address living in difficult times with more equanimity and engagement
see more here: www.copperbeechinstitute.org/breathing
Saturday, May 13, Writing Towards Freedom: an Afternoon of Meditation and Writing 1-4:30pm.
North Shore Zen Center, Beverly MA.
August 18-20 Weekend workshop/retreat Copper Beach Institute, West Hartford CT. Take a full weekend to integrate mind, body and spirit and come into your aligned center. I’m really looking forward to this weekend, when we’ll have more extended time to practice together in community.