15 Lessons I Learned from Reading Spiritual Memoirs

A wide range of spiritual lessons on lifestyle choices, marriage, relationships, detachment, humility, and more!

There was a time when I couldn’t stand biographies. And then, I was introduced to the world of memoirs – the less factual, more emotionally invested kind of look into people’s lives. It was like a paradigm shift!

While our Ultimate goal as spiritual beings is to attain Enlightenment, not all of us are aspiring single-mindedly to achieve that goal within this lifetime. Also, not all of us are inclined towards renouncing our material lives to go live in ashrams or caves with the monks, to attain this guidance.

That being said, we need all the encouragement, wisdom and inspiration along our way, that we can get, even whilst we choose to engage in worldly matters.

To me, these are the Spiritual Memoirs that brought different flavors of enlightenment to the comfort of my lazy space. Here’s highlighting what stood out to me, in each of the recommendations listed below.

I am usually unbiased, but this time I’ve placed my personal favourite at the last, so read till the end. *wink*

#1 – The Surrender Experiment by Michael A Singer

This inspiring story looks into Michael’s life of almost monk-hood; spending 40-years in the forest trying to live in solitude but by a strange twist of fate, being anything but alone, ever!

Meditation, Buddhism, Monk, Temple

Not just that, there are humbling insights like him teaching meditation to jail inmates, building a spiritual temple that is a magnet to spiritual masters from around the world, coming clean from an FBI raid, and demystifying several spiritual experiences in simple laymen language.

Without giving away too much, here are my 5 key takeaways.

  • ON MEDITATION
    Meditating for long hours is not comfortable, not easy and definitely not rosy. But he shows us how to get through the sluggish phases, as well as embrace the overwhelming ones.
  • ON EGO
    Furthermore, even years of meditation can lead to stagnation in spirituality. You might be able to use his life incidents to identify your own shortcomings and ego blocks, so that you can accelerate your journey once again!
  • ON LIFESTYLE CHOICES
    It is possible to earn a LOT of money, get married, have kids and still be increasingly, spiritually-conscious. The real-life incidents in this book are more than plenty of evidence in terms of practical spirituality.
  • ON HAPPINESS & SURRENDERING
    Our personal preferences about what should and shouldn’t happen, is the reason we experience resistance. Once you stop feeding these preferences, you are able to do what needs to be done without being emotionally driven.
  • ON PRACTICAL SPIRITUALITY
    And my absolute favourite, which was the theme of the book – pursuing Spirituality is NOT black and white; the universe continues to throw other necessary ‘obstacles’ such as jobs or relationships, and the only way out to the other side of Oneness, is through these obstacles. As the saying goes, obstacles on your path, are your path.

Read more : Being Spiritual Everydyay – 8 Books on Practical Spirituality

This book affirmed my belief that we are no longer in the time where we go sit in caves and become monks. The monks need to live amongst us – WE have to find our Light and spread it, all the while being amongst those that are in the darkness.

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#2 – Sadhguru by Arundhati SUBRAMANIAM

What stands out about this book from many others, are the strange experiences that are described. Though strange, are not impossible to believe. It also is perhaps the deepest introspection into Sadhguru’s life, I’ve read thus far.

Shiva, Lord Shiva, God Shiva, Isha

There’s actually a lot to takeaway, but I’ll share just 5 aspects :

  • ON MARRIAGE
    Marrying a non-spiritual partner is okay (and as proven by this mystic, at times necessary in your journey). This book helped me close the loop on my personal pondering – Should Spiritual People Get Married?
  • ON ENLIGHTENMENT FOR THE COMMON MAN
    Non-spiritual people might attain nirvana before the Enlightened being (called Bodhisattva) who was evidently more Spiritual in life! Everyone is moving at their own pace, don’t let someone’s journey disappoint you or make you arrogant either.
  • ON PAST LIVES
    Not only are past lives proven to be very real experiences as proven by Sadhguru’s stories, what seems like an ‘instant’ and effortless enlightenment is actually many lifetimes of raising Awareness to attain that peak point of bliss.
  • ON THE AFTERMATH OF ENLIGHTENMENT
    Enlightened beings can fall sick and undergo a lot of challenges too, their life doesn’t become rosy and effortless. As long as you’re alive, you’re going to learn a lot! This makes me think we’ve exaggerated the topic “your external is a manifestation of your internal”. Some things happen regardless, and that’s just that.
  • ON MYSTICAL EXPERIENCES
    Disembodied spirits (ghosts) are real, but they aren’t spooky as we believe them to be. They’re just searching for the Light and sometimes they think we, as humans, can show them the way. So are other concepts like chakras, soul bonds, and much more.

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#3 – Old Path White Clouds by Thich Nhat Hanh

This was single-handedly the most influential book I have ever read on my spiritual journey yet. If there is one book you ever buy on my recommendation, please make it this one!

Buddha, Banner, Religion, Meditation

Though over 400-pages, it is not overwhelming at all. It is a gentle, easy-breezy read that will transform you in the most subtle and lasting ways.

I learned a lot about Buddhism and the life of the Buddha, by reading this but also was able to adopt many aspects into my own life. Here are 5 highlights :

  • ON ESSENTIALISM
    The Buddha and his disciples only ate one to two meals a day, before sunset, depending on the food available. The practitioners were not required to cook meals because it was considered an added household chore – so both with the intention of learning humility, and saving time, they would beg alms once every morning, and that food would be used throughout the day. (Focus on what really matters, Essentialism)
  • ON MINIMALISM
    The same for clothing – the monks were advised to have only two pairs, one to wear, one to wear whilst the other pair was in wash. This minimized worldly duties. (Minimalism has been around longer than us new-age folks want to believe)
  • ON MONKS & COMMONERS
    Lay disciples, were the followers that didn’t want to be monks, but wanted to benefit from Buddhism while pursuing their livelihoods. The lay disciples had five simple practices to follow – don’t cheat on your spouse, don’t steal from anybody, no alcohol, no non veg, and don’t lie. (If you can’t be a monk, following just this little bit of advice is enough to change your life)
  • ON DIVERSITY
    Though the Buddha did not voluntarily cook meat, if during bhiksha, the process of begging alms, he was served non vegetarian food, he would not decline because he saw this also an opportunity to connect with and share the Buddhist practice in every household. (Don’t stand against those that are not like you; gently gain their confidence and show them a better way; but stay open to possibility that they will still not walk your way)
  • ON HUMILITY
    Buddha was aware in much advance, of the exact moment of his death, and reason. Still, he continued to carry out his life without trying to win death. (Stay humble, and know when your time is up, don’t try to bargain with destiny)

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That being said, a special mention to the classic works of Paramhans Yogananda, called An Autobiography of A Yogi, is a book that often gets the review “this answered many of my doubts”.

And this has been true for me too. Whether it was my confusions about Hypnotherapy, fear of negative entities, or many other personal experiences, this book gave me the guidance I otherwise had no access to.

The language is a bit dated and complex, but if you try not to get too stuck in all that and simply glide through the story, your answers too will find themselves in this 400+ page biography.

There are many wondrous books that bring us the lessons that we otherwise would have to learn though ardent life obstacles. It is a fortune more than ever to have such a beautiful bouquet of diverse information.

Hope these works inspire you to read and gain from them too.

Happy reading!

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Side note, My Spiritual Shenanigans just got featured as Rank #17 in the Top 100 Spiritual Blogs of 2019!

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10 Ways to be Spiritual Everyday, WITHOUT Meditating

You may want to bookmark this one – I’ve loaded the post with as many spiritual ideas, recommendations and tips as I possibly could. Try them all atleast once!

So many of us, no matter how hard we have tried, have failed miserably at sitting still to meditate. The usual complaints are – my thoughts are all over the place, I can’t concentrate, I just can’t sit still, etcetera, etcetera.

We still want to try, and probably give it a shot annually when anyone ‘recommends meditation’, but we begin to resign from spirituality assuming that meditation is the only way to approach it.

Also, at times, even when we know how to meditate, we may not have the time or the emotional availability to sit down for it.

The good news is, spirituality is unlimited and there are countless ways to experience a more soul-enriching life!

So here are 10 things you can do in your daily life to experience peace, even if you can’t sit still or don’t have enough time to.

#1 – Music (Chanting)

You don’t need to close your eyes to experience peace.

And, even if you can’t understand the chant due to a language barrier, there are some incredibly therapeutic creations to listen to while driving, before bed or at any time of the day when you need to cool down your mind quickly. I often used to listen to these while at work – it helped me stay calm and focused.

Here are my top 5 recommendations for chants :

1) Buddhist Monks – https://youtu.be/cDCS19EOsrA
2) Om Namah Shivay Chanting – https://youtu.be/htoKhJySUFo
3) Lotus Sutra (Namyoho Renge Kyo) – https://youtu.be/OBgN849_nOs
4) Om Chanting – https://youtu.be/8sYK7lm3UKg
5) Morning Prayer – https://youtu.be/Hx8c50vUi4I

#2 – Mindfulness

While meditation is associated with sitting still, mindfulness asks you to focus on your reality, whilst engaged in other activities. It isn’t as challenging as it sounds! Start small, as small as 1 minute everyday, and let your mindfulness expand in duration, as well as the activities you do.

How to be mindful?

To summarise the practice, when you’re involved in any mundane task in which you are so good, you are not paying attention and your mind is wandering, such as brushing, eating or walking, become fully aware of doing this activity. Feel yourself being involved in the task at hand. Appreciate the effortlessness you have developed in doing something – enjoy it!

#3 – Minimalism

Minimalism has been quite the ‘trend’ lately. It not only appears tidy, classy and overcomes the ‘hoarding’ psychology, minimalism is another way of saying “I am a mindful consumer”.

While there are multiple philosophies on how to practice minimalism, I think we should all start with the basics :

  • All future purchases should be what you immediately need.
    When you purchase less, you can still upgrade your wardrobe and appear stylish, by spending more on the quality of what you’re buying. This allows you to maximise the use of what you have, and thus a NO-WASTE policy.
  • Scan your existing purchases and remove items you haven’t used in 6 months or more.
    If you keep stocking up, or refuse to let go of old possessions, you’re basically a hoarder. That word is not to be taken lightly, simply because it is a psychological problem, a fear of ‘lack and insufficiency’ that as a conscious being, you MUST overcome.
  • For every new item you buy, try to remove an old pair.
    The effective consumption stays constant, and you are able to recycle your wardrobe. Preferably giving away your used items to charity.

When we evaluate how many gallons of water is wasted in making a simple piece of cloth, or that our natural resources are outrageously being depleted, minimalism is the LEAST we can do to start curbing the explosive consumption and lack of appreciation.

#4 – Grounding

It’s simply reconnecting with nature and allowing your excess energy to balance into the Earth.

Woman, Young, Rain, Pond, Cambodia, Girl

Dance in the rain.
Walk barefoot in the grass.
Take a hike in the nature.
Play with your pets outdoors (keyword is outdoors).
Hug a tree.
Walk in the sand and let the ocean waves crash against your feet.

These are all just some examples, and just 5 minutes a day can make all the difference!

#5 – Absorb Wisdom from Around

Surround yourself with spirituality. But, how? Keep reading.

  • Since we spend an awful lot of time on social media, the quickest trick is to follow pages and channels that keep reminding you of soulful messages. Slowly and steadily, these thoughts will penetrate into your way of living.

    Speaking by personal experience – on the days when you don’t have enough inner light, it is these messages that will lift you, NOT the images of people getting married or going on a Euro-trip.
  • Second, listen to spiritual teachers. Here are some of my personal favourites :
  1. Sadhguru
  2. Caroline Myss
  3. Eckhart Tolle
  4. Oprah Winfrey’s Soulful Sunday series
  5. Hay House podcasts
  • Also, to nurture your Soul straight from the wise horse’s mouth, read more intriguing books. If you haven’t picked up book from this genre yet, you can check out my recommendations for 5 spiritual books everyone should read.

#6 – Morning Pages

A suggestion that has been around for a few decades, but I only got to, this year myself. Morning Pages is like a mindless rant, it’s venting everything that’s on your mind, onto a piece of paper (or typing it in Word, if you’d like).

Pencil, Sharpener, Notebook, Paper

This is the brainchild of Julia Cameron found in her book, The Artist’s Way. I will come forward and say, that what meditation sometimes doesn’t do for me, morning pages does. How?

Because you are taking a few minutes to actually channelise your thoughts, you are able to finish the thought and move on. Sometimes in meditation, the mind will jump from one unfinished thought to another like a kid high on sugar, so writing slows down the process and really lets you vent.

And you may even experience some wisdom seeping through! This is what manifested the page, Messages from the Universe, on my blog.

#7 – Reliving your pain (Therapy)

Anything that brings you back to the present moment is a good thing. And what is more effective, than a bad memory which reminds you that you’re safe now, in this moment? Counter-intuitive, I know.

As someone said, “in the exact moment, we are all, always alright”.

When we actively pursue our pain, or ‘darkness’, we are able to realise the lessons behind our suffering, and appreciate our ‘now’.

On to the ‘how‘, three suggestions –

  1. Regularly talk to somebody you trust and feel safe opening your wounds around.
  2. Second, write about it for yourself or for a bigger audience (this is how my page on Instagram began). You’ll be surprised how liberating it is to speak your truth. The world is really a more receptive place today, and vulnerability is welcomed.
  3. Attend therapy sessions. Though this isn’t the path for everybody, but if you feel like you might benefit from it, trust me, YOU WILL!

#8 – Do What You’re Meant To : LIVE a Little (or a LOT) !

Not everyone is made for the same 9-6 job or other stereotypes like getting married and having kids, but there’s no doubt that every creative cell in your body deserves to be fuelled. No matter who you are!

Remember from the Trolls movie, how the characters withered away, when they weren’t allowed to dance or sing? That’s precisely how we humans are, too. Just not as cute.

Image result for troll movie

Surprised this even makes it to the list? It’s true. The more spiritual you become, the more creative and in touch with your ‘inner child’ you will be. and vice versa.

Also, as the analogy goes – as food is to the body, creativity is to the soul. You need to feed yourself regularly, generously!

#9 – Healing

There are a number of wondrous healing techniques – using crystals, practising Reiki, Pranik healing, etc which can really up your spiritual game and might even become a profession for some. Explore them, give the practices a chance, you might be surprised!

Crystals, Stones, Healing, Mystic

NOTE: For Indians interested in Reiki, the Reiki Healing Foundation offers free Reiki Level 1 classes every month, for the masses in Delhi, India. I have personally attended the session too, and learned a lot! Would definitely encourage that those that are in the area and can attend, should.

#10 – Spiritual Cleanse

This is an abundant and magnificent topic of its own. Given how exhaustive this list has already become, my post on my favourite cleansing practices will have to find its own space and time! Stay tuned.

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10 Underrated Books Everyone MUST Read

My underrated favorite books, highly recommended for 2019.

Here’s my list of 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. 🙂

1. Unthink by 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, keeps you hooked on every page, and will leave you thinking for a long time.

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2. An Atheist’s History of Belief by 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.

This 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. And you might be surprised by what you discover about your own religion. Brace yourselves, there are some bold revelations!

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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.

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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.

Its 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).

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 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!

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Happy Reading! 🙂

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I also include exclusive content such as e-books, guided meditations and numerous other resources – all of which you get access to as soon as you sign up!

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must read, underrated books