5 Underrated Books About Shadow Work For Deeper Self-Awareness

Books about shadow work – from overcoming addiction, to learning how to fight fair, & from grieving death to being prepared for it. Read this!

It took me a while to understand the difference between shadow work and light work healing. This year, after a fantastic guest post on the subject, I became curious! And so, I began looking for books about shadow work, to help deepen my own understanding.

At the same time, I wanted to talk about the lesser known ones through this post. They brought enormous value to my relation with my shadow self, and I hope they help you too!

From overcoming addiction, to learning how to fight fair in relationships; from grieving death, to being prepared for it; there’s a good mix of emotions covered in each of the recommendations below. So, shall we dive in? Let’s go!

#1 – Healing through the Dark Emotions by Miriam Greenspan

Miriam’s book made my heart explode open (and waterworks flow) while reading her personal narratives around child loss. Her story is one of great strength and perseverance.

But don’t get me wrong, it’s not limited to maternity. That was just one small yet powerful angle to break the ice on a much deeper subject.

Embracing our dark emotions.

And it really puts things into perspective – how can you trust the very God that stands quiet as you suffer personal loss?

therapist comforting patient, grief, healing through dark emotions, books about shadow work

This is a bold writing that challenges many psychiatric theories, written by a psychiatrist herself! And I love her spiritual reflections, incorporating ‘unverified’ topics like the dark night of the soul and enlightenment.

Through this book, Miriam introduces her readers to the term emotional alchemy – the ability to transcend our emotions, by working through them. And in that, she talks about rebuilding your faith. Her idea is to stay open to the doubts and work through them into a healthier spiritual life.

Of the many tools and tips provided in this book, I like her simplified acronym, ABS.

Attend.
Befriend.
Surrender.

To? The emotions in your body, in order to experience healing fully.

In a world where we hide emotions and don’t really know who to deal with grief or a lost sense of identity, Miriam teaches us of vulnerability. All gently yet boldly explored through many real-life stories and her clinical work.

Takeaway: This is one of the books about shadow work that teaches us how to observe and navigate through our emotion-phobic culture. The author’s strength is in subjects of grief and how to hold faith in testing times, without losing sight of your spiritual journey.


#2 – In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts by Gabor Maté

We all have some form of addiction.

This book was eye-opening and a big reality check – exploring the darkness of human vices. It begins as a reflection on dozens of cases from Dr Maté’s clinical work in Vancouver. And in no time, meshes into his personal accounts and self-reflections about his addictions. And in effect, yours!

Maté makes you realize that even if you don’t have a drug or alcohol addiction, you could be a workaholic, shopaholic or sugar addict. And that’s no better. Every addiction is a form of escapism from one’s shadow self.
person smoking cigarette, book about shadow work, gabor mate, healing dark emotions

This book is another magnificent writing that really works through the psychology of patients. And it also gives you a candid insight on the the nature of therapy work behind closed doors.

Takeaway: Ofcourse this is perfect for anyone overcoming a personal addiction. And it is also essential to read for anyone that is supporting a loved one through their addictions. It also teaches you compassion and helps open your mind, giving you a chance to self-reflect and overcome your own addictive behaviors.


#3 – Radical Compassion by Tara Brach

This was one of the books that kept coming back to me, through Instagram posts, and so I finally ended up buying the audiobook.

Compassion has been a keyword in my journey this year, and the title compelled me to give this book a chance. And why I immediately liked it right off the bat, was because Tara Brach shares Buddhist teachings in a modern way, to help deepen our compassion.

compassion, love, self awareness

Radical compassion talks about a four-step process, with an acronym RAIN, to build our compassion muscles. This acronym stands for –

Recognize.
Allow.
Investigate.
Nurture.

As you can tell, each step allows us to expose ourselves to dark emotions like anger, resentment, bitterness and so on. We aren’t being told to suppress or shame ourselves for feeling a certain way. This is the fundamental of any form of shadow work.

At the end of every chapter, she walks you through beautiful meditations on each of the four steps. That’s why I recommend the audiobook version!

Though the idea of pausing and ‘thinking before we speak’ isn’t new, when you use her formula to practice RAIN, it becomes more doable.

Takeaway: I highly recommend reading Tara’s book for anyone that might feel like their emotions take over them and they lose sight of themselves, or that need to work deeper on self-love and compassion towards oneself as well as those around.


#4 – Being Mortal by Atul Gawande

I read this book nearly 5 years ago, long before my spiritual journey started. And yet, it felt as if it were preparing me for the ultimate Truth, much in advance.

Being Mortal is written by a renowned surgeon and writer. It talks about the taboo topic, death. His writing is revolutionary, in that it breaks many of our bubbles around the notion of dying through the beautiful mashup of science of philosophy.

death, dying, books about shadow work

And with it, come a large number of self-reflecting questions; all leading to one bigger question – what quality of life are you living, so that you’re ready to die when it ends?

But what – why would anyone want to read about such a morbid subject? Because this is one of the key books about shadow work that address our biggest fear as humans. Dying.

And time and again, other popular books like Sadhguru’s book, Death and Sogyal Rinpoche’s Tibetan Book of Living and Dying teach us the same message.

We cannot understand life, until we prepare ourselves for death. And we haven’t done our true shadow work until we begin to walk on this path.

Takeaway: If the topic of dying and death makes you uncomfortable, I would recommend starting with Being Mortal. It will open your eyes.


#5 – The Dance of Connection by Harriet Lerner

I had mixed feelings about this book, because unlike the other books, there weren’t really any fancy acronyms or tools – just simple story-telling and case study discussions. But it sat with me months after reading it.

And I remember even replaying one of her stories in my moments of anger, recently! So that’s why, it makes a show here afterall. 🙂

The Dance of Connection is a perfect introduction on how to channel one’s shadow emotions into something more constructive. Not only does it discuss conflict management in friendships and marriages, there are stories that reflect on parent-child dynamics, amongst other things.

angry couple, conflict, book about shadow work by harriet lerner

Feeling hurt translates into many emotions – anger and sadness being a few of them. However, growing up, we’re taught to look at these as taboo.

So having grown up, it’s high time we learn how to express ourselves when we’re feeling hurt. Without hurting another person.

Takeaway: This is one of the simpler and shorter books about shadow work that will give you a new lens for your day-to-day conflicts. I recommend reading this if you, obviously, want to be more fun to have an argument with. 🙂


Concluding Thoughts

As you explore the idea of normalizing emotions like anger and grief, it becomes easier to embrace our lesser ‘approved’ side. For instance, anger isn’t a big deal anymore, and it’s completely fine if you take ‘too much time’ to overcome a loss.

We cannot embody the divinity, the Light within us, until we learn to embrace our darkness. And in this, we can transmute it to attain higher levels of self-awareness.

Let me know if you have other suggestions, or enjoy reading any of these books about shadow work. I’d love to know! 🙂

NOTE: This post contains affiliate links. This means that at no added cost to you, every purchase you make through these links brings a small commission to my blog. This helps support my work. Thank you for your consideration!

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Ultimate Reading List for 2020 : 10 MUST READ Non-Fiction Books

After completing my Goodreads Challenge 2019 with 40 books, here are the MUST read non-fiction books. Hope this inspires your reading list for 2020!

Successfully meeting my target of reading 40 books this year from the GoodReads 2019 Challenge, here is my reading list for MUST read books in the non-fiction category.

Continuing from last year’s recommendations, I have decided to make this a year-end ritual of sorts.

I know, I know, I write enough about Spiritual books already, so I’m promising you a list outside the core Spiritual genre, yet true to the non-fiction hall of fame.

Bringing you a bright concoction of genres this year, from undercover agents, comedy, mental health, memoirs, self-helps and more. Read on!

#1 – Atomic Habits by James Clear

If I could recommend only one book to you, it would be this one.

With 2020 around the corner, and the potential to BREAK most of your “new year resolutions”, this book will teach you how to commit to yourself this year, for good.

As the author emphasizes, we only need to change ourselves 1% everyday, and by the end of the year, we are 37 times better as a person! The tips and tricks in Atomic Habits are suitable for all walks of life, and I continue to use this book as a guideline to refine my own habits, even after 6 months of reading it.

This is also the book that influenced my post 7 Daily Self-Love Habits that You Will Thank Yourself For Doing.


#2 – Why We Sleep by Matthew Kneale

If you’re a victim of sleep deprivation, you’re not alone.

Fairy Tale, Night, Music, Fish, Sky, Fly, Sleep, Non Fiction, Dream

Why We Sleep will tell you EVERYTHING there is to know about sleep, like :

  • how dreams work,
  • why we experience jet lags,
  • sleep-deprived driving versus drunk-driving,
  • how much we should sleep,
  • the impact of caffeine on our sleep, and much more!

Informative, but not overly. The stories and research is astonishing and will stay with you long after you’ve finished reading. This book is the right blend of self-help and psychology genres.


#3 – In the Skin of a Jihadist

I’ve always been inclined to learn more about whistleblowers and anti-terrorism stories. For me, this year, In the Skin of a Jihadist really stood out.

undercover, journalism, jihad

The story of an undercover journalist that went to extensive lengths to debunk much about the Jihadists and their plans, ultimately leading to life-threatening circumstances for herself. Bone-chilling and very different from anything else you’ll usually read.


#4 – Becoming by Michelle Obama

In the category of memoirs, Becoming along with #5 have been such good reads this year.

I was fortunate to hear it read by Michelle Obama herself, thanks to my latest love for audiobooks. Through her works, you will realize that she is a brilliant mother, wife, woman and human being.

I’m sure you don’t need much more introduction to this book, and you’ve probably seen enough reviews in favour. So just take one more positive sign – you SHOULD read this!


#5 – This is Going to Hurt by Adam Kay

Very few people know, that I wanted to be a doctor while I was growing up. Being steered into engineering by my very practical family, was not a decision I got over for several years!

adam kay, this is going to hurt, must read memoir

I’m happy to be where I am today. But if there was anything left within me, this book brought me the closure I needed. But don’t get me wrong, This is Going to Hurt is the opposite of sad.

If you’re looking for something hilarious yet meaningful, look no further. This book comes with a power-packed message and lots of smiles.


#6 – Essentialism by Greg McKeown

If you’re a workaholic, read this.
Or, if you want to learn time management, read this.
Or, If you have a tough time saying no at work or in relations, read this.

Essentialism is an essential book for anyone that wants to understand how to set up boundaries in their life, and in a very practical way. The book uses a lot of references from other books and can seem worded at times, but it is relevant nonetheless.


#7 – Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

With me going on and on about Mental Health and happiness, it became almost mandatory to have this book on the list. It’s a classic, but I feel like it was written way ahead of its time.

bell jar, sylvia plath, mental health, must read

For anyone having any inclination and searching for some enlightenment on subjects of mental health, depression or suicide, please add the Bell Jar to your cart. I truly felt like this is as real and deep as you can get with experiencing such subjects, without being in that position yourself.


#8 – The Circadian Code by Dr Satchin Panda

This year was a blessing, with back-to-back books that brought inner transformation. With diet-culture and intermittent fasting in extensive discussion, this is the book that nails every theory and myth with terrific scientific backing.

Clock, Plate, Intermittent Fasting, Must Read

Dr Satchin’s research proves that calorie-counting can go out of the window, if we make very small changes in our daily habits. His theory being, it doesn’t matter what you eat, as much as it matters when you are eating.

In turn, these changes will reverse the effects of chronic illnesses like obesity, diabetes, ADHD, as well as regulate your mental, hormonal and physical health on the daily basis!

In his book, Circadian Code, the doctor backs up his evidence for 6 weeks of his recommended practice to see results, and at this point, I am over 8 weeks into practising intermittent fasting. The outcome is so amazing, I am compiling a post about my story. Stay tuned!


#9 – Quiet : The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain

I was today years-old, when I discovered that half the things I do, are not a personality flaw, but the essence of an introvert personality.

The book Quiet talks in great detail about introverts in all kinds of social and career situations. There’s wonderful insight on raising introvert kids, and how to cohabitate with an introvert or extrovert partner.

Woman, Read, Sit, Person, Literature, Must Read, Non-Fiction

I can’t thank the author enough, for putting this incredible work together. She’s gone above and beyond, searched high and low to put this insightful work together.

Whether it was her experience at Tony Robbins workshop, a study at Harvard Business School, or countless other studies of CEOs and other influential, introverted personalities, she’s shared EVERYTHING. And then some. Absolutely fascinating!

If you are an introvert, considered emotional or sensitive, this book is going to empower you and make you feel so good about yourself, you will wear the label with honour, as I now do. Thoroughly researched, witty and pushing your mind to break the stigma about who you are.


#10 – Notes on a Nervous Planet by Matt Haig

As someone who has gone through several episodes of depression, and continues to deal with anxiety, Matt Haig has nailed everything there has to be said about the state of our planet.

Sadness, Depressed, Woman, Girl, Alone

Notes on a Nervous Planet looks at everything that affects our mental health from a practical, easy-to-understand but tough-to-digest perspective. This could be the book that shakes you awake.


* BONUS READ – Make Your Bed by Will McRaven

While this didn’t make it in my top 10 non-fiction favourites, it definitely made a good read.

Military, Usa, Marines, Drill, Silent, Navy, Seal

I’m sure you’ve already seen the inspiring speech about making your bed every morning, but the author put together a fantastic book revealing what the life and struggle of navy marines are, in a rather unique and comical way.

What I liked about this book was, no fluff, lots of stories that make great analogies, and how crisp it was. Perfect if you need a short and motivating read.

Conclusion

How many of these have you already read? I hope some of them make way into your To-Be-Reads for 2020! Happy reading 🙂

P.S. Thank you, if you are able to purchase any of the books through the Amazon links above. At no added cost to you, your purchase brings a small commision to this blog and helps it grow! 🙂

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10 must read non-fiction books

10 Underrated Books That Deserve More Love

My underrated favorite books, highly recommended for 2019.

Here’s my list of underrated books that people aren’t talking about enough, have just a few-thousand ratings or even less on Goodreads, but you should definitely add to your shelves (and also read, don’t just keep them sitting there!).

NOTE : If you want to buy any of these books, it would be awesome if you could use the affiliate links I have provided. There are no added costs to you, and it could be your way of supporting my work for every book you buy through my website. Win-win! 🙂

#1 – Unthink, Chris Paley

(Goodreads average: 3.55, but it deserves at least 4/5 stars)

Genre? Psychology. Without the boring, scientific details, this short, quick book covers dozens of interesting studies on the human mind (and how it’s being heavily manipulated). Easy to read, Unthink keeps you hooked on every page, and will leave you thinking for a long time.


#2 – An Atheist’s History of Belief, Matthew Kneale

(Goodreads average: 3.82, Me: atleast a 4/5)

I’ll go so far as saying it’s (almost) as fascinating and resourceful as Yuval Noah’s Sapiens. But don’t take my word on it – read it for yourself.

An Atheist’s History of Belief is an essential book to believers and non-believers alike, as this uncovers questions like,

  • Where did the idea of God really originate from?
  • How did idol-worship begin?
  • Why are there strange practices like sacrifices, martyrdom and witchcraft?
  • The conception of polygamy and abstinence,
  • and a LOT more!

Value for money, and a well utilization of 240 pages! No fluke, no fluff.


3. Hypnotherapy by Dave Elman

(Goodreads average: 4.4, Me: 5/5!)

What is hypnosis? Can we be hypnotized without consent? Is it possible that we are often hypnotized even without knowing it? Can hypnosis actually be beneficial? And how can we do it (if at all)?

This is one of the finest books written on the subject, and will surprise you with a ton of information. Mind-blowing!

Disclaimer – the book is rarely published anymore and will be an expensive buy. But most certainly worth it, I assure you!


4. Anam Cara by John O’Donohue

(Goodreads average: 4.31, I’d say 5/5)

Celtic wisdom. Philosophy. Mystical.

If these words intrigue you, pick this book without a second thought. In a world where you get a hundred new quotes per hour on Instagram, the thoughts and ideas in this book still remain widely untouched and uncirculated.


5. Invisible Acts of Power by Caroline Myss

(Goodreads average: 4.06, Me: definitely a 5/5)

“Faith in humanity restored!”
That was my reaction atleast after every 2 pages.

Invisible Acts of Power is a feel-good yet emotion-stirring read. Thought-provoking, yet gentle. An ideal book if you’re finding yourself questioning the ‘purpose in life’, or wondering if there’s any hope left for humanity.

This is written as a series of stories with a deep message and a lot of happy endings (happy new beginnings, rather).

Note : Caroline Myss also has a number of insightful blog posts, if you’d like to get a feel of her work.


6. Old Path White Clouds by Thich Nhat Hanh

(Goodreads average: 4.49, Me: 5/5 undoubtedly!)

Written by an Enlightened Buddhist Monk himself, this book is such an easy way to understand the Buddhist Way.

Even if not with the intention to become a Monk, or a Buddhist, read this extraordinary piece of work to gain invaluable knowledge about Meditation practices, spiritual discourses, and historic recounting (disputes between the monks, rivalries, the Buddha’s passing into Nirvana etc).


7. No Good Men Among the Living by Anand Gopal

(Goodreads average: 4.45, Me: 5/5)

A Pulitzer prize winner, I would describe as ‘UNPUTDOWNABLE’.

Narrated with three, shocking perspectives – one from a Mujaheddin leader, second from a Taliban member and third from a local citizen of Afghanistan, this book is a personal and immersive experience of what happened to the country, and why it is suffering. Even if you know nothing about Afghanistan (as I didn’t when I read this), this is the only book you’ll need to read.


8. The Terrorist’s Son by Zak Ebrahim

(Goodreads average: 4.09, Me: 5/5 brilliant!)

Haven’t we all wondered how such families are impacted? And what happens to the kids – do they follow their father’s footsteps? This is a (very) quick but brave memoir about the story of a Terrorist’s son. Written by a TED talk speaker, this one is sure to leave a mark on your heart.


9. Return to Life by Jim B Tucker

(Goodreads average: 3.7, Me: 5/5 phenomenal!)

If you want to be challenged into reading something outside your comfort zone, try this. It will question (almost) everything you’ve believed in about life.

The major theme is around cases where children’s memories of past lives could be PROVEN, and there are other compelling evidences such as famous people being reborn, animals being reborn as humans (WTF?), psychic powers, near death experiences, and more.

As eerie as this book sounds, it was a breeze to get through and really shook me to the core.


10. The Untethered Soul by Michael A Singer

(Goodreads average: 4.27, Me: 5/5, favorite book ever!)

If there is one book you need to understand how the mind works against us, how to meditate, the concepts of detachment, ego, surrendering, and a vast sea of other spiritual concepts, pick this book and you will not have to look further.

This is a beautiful, meaningful and short book that merges psychology and spirituality. I know I’ve brought this one up before, in my list of spiritual favorites, but I think it’s worth mentioning again!

Happy Reading! 🙂

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must read, underrated books