Shattering a 20+ Year Pattern of Disempowerment: An Authentic Relating Testimony

BY Jordan Giarratano, ART LEVEL 1 & LEVEL 2 GRADUATE

Trauma: an embodied flashback. How many years of my life have I been ready to fight at a moments notice, or to collapse, disengage, and disconnect? I've always had a hard time speaking my truth and owning my viewpoints around men who don't yield space for me to speak. Fight or flight.

Yesterday. Coffee with a new colleague. A fellow teacher and movement professional. Different viewpoints on life, but intense conviction on both sides of the table. We skid into a disagreement over an issue I'm wildly passionate about, an issue I've built my career around: self-defense.

I feel a deep clench in my stomach. My pulse speeds up. This is where I lose my words and lose my clarity: this is where I posture and regret it later. This is where I shrink and feel ashamed, shut down again, unseen, unheard... and yet: space.

Awareness. Presence. Curiosity.

I can actually feel a range of responses. I slow down and listen to him, to what's important to him, to what drives his opinions...

What assumptions am I making? What old story is driving my present experience? What IS my experience in this moment and what do I want to share?

I speak. Clear. Calm. I realize that I'm making a truth claim and course-correct mid-sentence. I am fully in my diginity, speaking from a place of deep care and experience.

I ask clarifying questions. I am actually genuinely interested in his viewpoint.

I am in total ownership of my experience. Maybe it's not a fight, maybe it's just an intense conversation.

I ask deepening questions. There is space for disagreement and understanding the why of one another's beliefs.

After a few minutes on a calmer topic, I reveal to him that I was feeling activated, that my nervous system sometimes gets overwhelmed in situations like this. I'm feeling brave, fuck it.

He shares an interest in my capacity and skill for emotional connection.

Twenty minutes later, he reaches across a stark political divide to invite me to his home for a small monthly gathering of his friends.

I walk to my car and sit with the experience of shattering a twenty-plus year pattern of disempowerment.

Bringing it Home: An Authentic Relating Testimony

By Jesse Nolan, ART Level 1 & Level 2 Graduate

I looked into my father’s eyes, with nothing to do, nothing to say, just the spaciousness to be there. As we continued to mill (eye gaze), tears began to well up in his eyes, a sight I had witnessed only a handful of times in my life. My heart began to melt and tense up, simultaneously. I felt alive, with my family, like I had not felt since I was very young.

How did I get here? This was not a standard way of being with my blood family. Yet, it felt as if I was finally home.

I have long desired to connect with my family in the ways that genuinely nourish me. For the last several years, I have been torn between a sense of obligation to enroll in our established norms of relating, and getting the connection that I see is possible between humans – with my family. This past month I have moved deeper into creating this with my family, and the results have touched me deep to the core.

The desire for richer relationships with my family began several years ago. I had been practicing authentic relating in various forms for a while, and had begun to dive deep into its use in friendships and in the way I related in most of my interactions. I was beginning to experience presence, understanding, curiosity and love like I had never known. As this continued to develop and grow, I noticed a divergence between how I related with my blood family and how I related with most other humans I encountered. With this noticing of divergence, sadness began to follow.

I struggled, and continue to struggle, with the desire to have this with my original family. I began experimenting in both light and heavy vulnerability, expressing desire, and stating what was true for me with them, all with mixed and unsatisfying results. I began to observe a complexity in these relationships that did not exist elsewhere. I found myself often in very young-feeling places in relation to my parents. From these places, I needed attention and care that I could not articulate or that could not be met by them, in the ways I needed. I found, as I opened up with them, that it unearthed parts of me that pulled me far from equanimity. I felt ungrounded in a way that I had rarely experienced elsewhere.

I felt enormous grief around the looming reality that I may never be able to be seen by my parents the way my heart longed for. As I continued to experiment, I found myself oscillating between the story that it was impossible, and the knowing that I could do it, but it would require me to have the courage to lead – to be vulnerable first. I contracted when I believed the former and I expanded when I believed the latter.

In the last year, this process has continued to unfold. I have continued to gather powerful tools from different models of relating and have experimented with them. I attended an authentic relating intro workshop offered by Authentic Relating Training (ART) International in the fall and then an advanced workshop in the early winter. I initially just wanted to see what others were bringing into the world in the realm of authentic relating. Little did I know that I would leave with the seed planted of how I could finally move closer to my desired relationships with family.

The most memorable teaching that I experienced was the creation of context within a relationship, and the molding of it with consent to create a sense of mutuality between multiple humans. This simple technique had been overlooked by my prior attempts to establish connection with my family. It wasn’t as if it was a new idea to me; it completely made sense. I had used it in other relational settings with great success. But it was as if the density of the blood family ties was so thick, that I could not see the way that I could lead compassionately with my family. Something about those workshops help solidify this possibility. After a month or so of letting the new lens settle, the opportunity presented itself.

I had a birthday in early December and we were planning a family gathering to celebrate as we had so many times before. As I was thinking about what to do, I realized I wanted authentic connection with my family for my birthday! So, I reached out, described what I wanted to do and why, shared how I desired for others to participate and gave opportunities for them to alter how they would participate to their liking. This was scary! It was scary because it was possible that I would be rejected. Potentially, rejected in something that was so dear to my heart, by my family. Joyfully, they all consented and welcomed the opportunity!

A week later, just after dinner, the time had come. Again, I found myself scared to initiate the activity everyone had already consented to. What if they didn’t like my way of connecting? But courage leapt forth and I asked for what I wanted, again met with acceptance.

After a brief setting of context, I began to facilitate the exercises. We began with silent milling in dyads. I had never been with any of these humans in this way and was excited/nervous to see how they would receive it. We spent some time with each person and I found myself in a strange mix of relaxing and tensing at the same time. I witnessed both my parents without the noise of norms and standards that I had become accustomed to. I saw their hearts. My brother and his partner also opened, though they both felt slightly less receptive, but still willing.

Next, we played the noticing game, where we shared what we were noticing about our present experience, in dyads, for 5-6 minutes. I was paired with my brother and noticed a stark contrast in the types of things we noticed being with each other. At first, I was wanting more emotional content from him but as time went on, joy seeped into my experience in being with him just the way he was. I began appreciating the differences and a sense of nostalgia set in that was delightful.

Following that, we got into triads and played the desires game with everyone getting three minutes to ask for whatever they wanted. I was partnered with my Mom and my brother’s partner. I decided I would go first and attempt to model what was possible. I asked for touch in the form of hand massages from each of them. Admittedly, this was a tamed version of my desire, but I wanted to honor their introduction to something of this nature. I then asked them to sing with me as my time finished. I then witnessed everyone showing and experimenting with their individual edges.

Finally, we played birthday guru with me on the platform. Everyone got the opportunity to ask me whatever they wanted and, even though people were showing signs of fatigue, they asked questions out of genuine curiosity, in my perception, with a little facilitation from my partner.

After we finished, my parents expressed how much they appreciated the activities. They shared that they loved being able to see their children in such a vulnerable, open way. My father remarked that it felt as if they just needed the intention to be set so that they had permission. Everyone expressed gratitude for me creating the space for something like this.

A few weeks later, I spent time with them over the holidays and still felt the new openness that had been cultivated that night. There was a new warmth that resided in our family’s relational field. I acknowledge that this will continue to take practice and development, but today I am celebrating just this first step! It feels big in my system.

I see this as one of my last frontiers in authentic connection. One of the few places in which being vulnerable is the hardest for me. A place where I deeply desire to have my authentic self seen. I have a story that if I can cultivate it here, I can do it anywhere. So, I feel hope. I feel wonder. I feel my explorer itching to wander into the new depths of the relational landscape.

The 4th Practice of Authentic Relating: Own Your Experience

Owning your experience is one of those standalone AR skills that can single-handedly radically transform the quality and depth of your relationships, if used skillfully. Owning your experience can have you reclaim all the ways you assert your opinions, perspectives, and assumptions and project them onto the fabric of reality, and find the source of your experience within yourself rather than outside of yourself.

The Most Influential and Life-Changing Books of All Time: 21-40

If you enjoyed the first part of our crowdsourced book list, take a look at the next 20 (plus a couple of bonus books that we just couldn’t leave off the list!). As many of us are constantly looking for book recommendations to inspire and empower us, we surveyed our friends, teachers and clients of diverse backgrounds and interests to share their recommendations. We hope this list of the most influential and life-changing books of all time will be a valuable resource for you, and seriously uplevel your summer reading!

The list is ranked in order of number of votes received, along with brief descriptions pulled from Amazon and other online sources. Click on the book cover or title to see the book on Amazon. And don’t forget to check out the first 20 if you missed our earlier blog post.

Enjoy!

The Most Influential Books of All Time: 21 to 40

 

21. Narcissus and Goldmund - Herman Hesse

At its publication, Narcissus and Goldmund was considered Hesse's literary triumph. This novel about two medieval men, one content with the monastic life and the other who takes off in search of more worldly salvation, is a study of the conflict between the spirit and material worlds, the heart and the mind. When the two are finally reunited after a long and revealing journey, they reflect upon the different paths their lives have taken and the meaning of life.

Considered to be a “timely and thought-provoking corrective to the generalized fantasies about relationships that permeate our culture,” The Eden Project challenges us to explore our projections and take greater personal responsibility in our relationships, seeking personal growth rather than rescue through others. This book takes us on a journey into how not only can a relationship survive the reality of two wounded individuals, but how it can be the most fertile ground for transformation and individuation, which according to Jung, is ‘the goal’ and largely depends on the relationship we have with ourselves.

Exploring common themes in the lives and works of logician Kurt Gödel, artist M. C. Escher, and composer Johann Sebastian Bach, this book examines how self-reference and formal rules gives systems meaning despite being made of "meaningless" elements. It dives deep into many important aspects of cognitive science: what it means to communicate, how knowledge can be represented and stored, the methods and limitations of symbolic representation, and even the fundamental notion of "meaning" itself.

 

 

24. Ishmael - Daniel Quinn

Ishmael examines the mythical thinking driving modern civilization, and the relationship of this world-view to ethics, sustainability, and global catastrophe. The novel uses a style of Socratic dialogue to deconstruct the notion that humans are the pinnacle of biological evolution. It posits that anthropocentrism and several other widely accepted modern ideas are actually cultural myths and that global civilization is enacting these myths with catastrophic consequences.

Considered by many to be radical and provocative, The fifteen commitments are a distillation of decades of work with CEOs and other leaders. With the premise that unconscious leadership is not sustainable and incredibly costly long-term, this book offers a comprehensive road map to guide you to shift from fear-based to trust-based leadership, resulting in more energy, clarity, focus and healthier relationships. It is said that leaders who practice The 15 Commitments end blame and criticism, speak candidly, openly and honestly in a way that invites others to do the same. This book invites us to take a chance, explore the unfamiliar, get curious and welcome a whole new world of leadership.

 

26. Transformation through Intimacy - Robert Augustus Masters

Intimate relationship has long been viewed and lived as a lesser alternative to spiritual life. More recently, the need to integrate our spiritual and intimate lives, rather than maintaining separate spheres and relationships on autopilot, has become increasingly apparent. Transformation through Intimacy explores intimate relationships through a four-stage lens: me-centered, we-centered codependent, we-centered coindependent, and being-centered. Bringing his many years of experience as a psychotherapist and spiritual practitioner to the subject, Masters shows readers not only how to navigate the thickets of reactivity, conflict, shame, anger, fear, and doubt, but how to understand them in a new light so that a deeper level of relating to oneself and one’s partner becomes possible, opening new levels of trust, commitment, and love.

 

27. Nature and the Human Soul: Cultivating Wholeness and Community in a Fragmented World - Bill Plotkin

Addressing the pervasive longing for meaning and fulfillment in this time of crisis, Nature and the Human Soul introduces a visionary ecopsychology of human development that reveals how fully and creatively we can mature when soul and wild nature guide us. Depth psychologist and wilderness guide Bill Plotkin presents a model for a human life span rooted in the cycles and qualities of the natural world, a blueprint for a more mature, fulfilling and purposeful life, and

 

 

28. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind - Yuval Harari

This #1 National Bestseller explores the ways in which biology and history have defined us and enhanced our understanding of what it means to be “human.” One hundred thousand years ago, at least six different species of humans inhabited Earth, yet today there is only one—homo sapiens. Most books about the history of humanity pursue either a historical or a biological approach, but Dr. Yuval Noah Harari breaks the mold with this highly original book that begins about 70,000 years ago with the appearance of modern cognition. From examining the role evolving humans have played in the global ecosystem to charting the rise of empires, Sapiens integrates history and science to reconsider accepted narratives, connect past developments with contemporary concerns, and examine specific events within the context of larger ideas.

 

29. A People's History of the United States - Howard Zinn

Since its original landmark publication in 1980, A People's History of the United States has been chronicling American history from the bottom up, throwing out the official version of history taught in schools—with its emphasis on great men in high places—to focus on the street, the home, and the, workplace. Known for its lively, clear prose as well as its scholarly research, A People's History of the United States is the only volume to tell America's story from the point of view of—and in the words of—America's women, factory workers, African-Americans, Native Americans, the working poor, and immigrant laborers. As historian Howard Zinn shows, many of our country's greatest battles—the fights for a fair wage, an eight-hour workday, child-labor laws, health and safety standards, universal suffrage, women's rights, racial equality—were carried out at the grassroots level, against bloody resistance.

 

30. The Gift - Hafiz & Daniel Ladinsky (translator)

More than any other Persian poet—even Rumi—Hafiz expanded the mystical, healing dimensions of poetry. Because his poems were often ecstatic love songs from God to his beloved world, many have called Hafiz the "Invisible Tongue." With this stunning collection of Hafiz's most intimate poems, Ladinsky has succeeded brilliantly in presenting the essence of one of Islam's greatest poetic and religious voices. Each line of The Gift imparts the wonderful qualities of this master Sufi poet and spiritual teacher: encouragement, an audacious love that touches lives, profound knowledge, generosity, and a sweet, playful genius unparalleled in world literature.

 

31. Secrets of the Talking Jaguar: Memoirs from the Living Heart of a Mayan Village - Martin Prechtel

Twenty-five years ago, a young musician and painter named Martin Prechtel wandered through the brilliant landscapes of Mexico and Guatemala. Arriving at Santiago Atitlan, a Tzutujil Mayan village on the breathtaking shores of Lake Atitlan, Prechtel met Nicolas Chiviliu Tacaxoy—perhaps the most famous shaman in Tzutujil history—who believed Prechtel was the new student he had asked the gods to provide. For the next thirteen years, Prechtel studied the ancient Tzutujil culture and became a village chief and a famous shaman in his own right. Filled with enchantment, danger, passion, and hope, Secrets of the Talking Jaguar, Prechtel brings to vivid life the sights, sounds, scents, and colors of Santiago Atitlan: its magical personalities, its beauty, its material poverty and spiritual richness.

 

32. Be Here Now - Ram Dass

In March 1961, Professor Richard Alpert – later renamed Ram Dass –had achieved great success by societal standards, and yet he couldn’t escape the feeling that something was missing. Psilocybin and LSD changed that. During a period of experimentation, Alpert peeled away each layer of his identity, and fear turned into exaltation upon the realization that at his truest, he was just his inner-self: a luminous being that he could trust indefinitely and love infinitely. And thus, a spiritual journey commenced. With over 150 pages of metaphysical illustrations, practical advice on how to implement a yogic regiment, and a chapter dedicated to quotes and book recommendations, Be Here Now is sure to enrich your emotional, physical, and spiritual life.

 

33. Atlas Shrugged - Ayn Rand

Set in a near-future U.S.A. whose economy is collapsing as a result of the mysterious disappearance of leading innovators and industrialists, this novel presents an astounding panorama of human life-from the productive genius who becomes a worthless playboy, to the great steel industrialist who does not know that he is working for his own destruction, to the philosopher who becomes a pirate, to the woman who runs a transcontinental railroad, to the lowest track worker in her train tunnels. Peopled by larger-than-life heroes and villains, charged with towering questions of good and evil, Atlas Shrugged is a philosophical revolution told in the form of an action thriller.

 

34. The Big Leap: Conquer Your Hidden Fear and Take Life to the Next Level - Gay Hendricks

With over 100,000 copies sold, New York Times bestselling author Gay Hendricks demonstrates how to go beyond your internal limits, release outdated fears and learn a whole new set of powerful skills and habits to liberate your authentic greatness. The Big Leap will take you on a journey to overcome false fears and belief, and discover the way to break down the walls to a better life.

 

 

35. Infinite Jest - David Foster Wallace

Set in an addicts' halfway house and a tennis academy, and featuring the most endearingly screwed-up family to come along in recent fiction, Infinite Jest explores essential questions about what entertainment is and why it has come to so dominate our lives; about how our desire for entertainment affects our need to connect with other people; and about what the pleasures we choose say about who we are. Equal parts philosophical quest and screwball comedy, Infinite Jest bends every rule of fiction without sacrificing for a moment its own entertainment value. Get ready for a gargantuan, mind-altering comedy about the pursuit of happiness in America.

 

36. The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism - Naomi Klein

In this groundbreaking alternative history of the most dominant ideology of our time, Milton Friedman's free-market economic revolution, Naomi Klein challenges the popular myth of this movement's peaceful global victory. From Chile in 1973 to Iraq today, Klein shows how Friedman and his followers have repeatedly harnessed terrible shocks and violence to implement their radical policies. The Shock Doctrine is said to be one of the very few books that really help us understand the present. 

 

 

37. Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience - Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's famous investigations of "optimal experience" have revealed that what makes an experience genuinely satisfying is a state of consciousness called flow. During flow, people typically experience deep enjoyment, creativity, and a total involvement with life, and this book demonstrates the ways this positive state can be controlled, not just left to chance. By ordering the information that enters our consciousness, we can discover true happiness and greatly improve the quality of our lives.

 

 

38. A Course in Miracles Foundation for Inner Peace

A Course in Miracles" is a complete self-study spiritual thought system. As a three-volume curriculum consisting of a "Text," "Workbook for Students", and "Manual for Teachers," it teaches that the way to universal love and peace through forgiving others. The Course thus focuses on the healing of relationships and making them holy.

 

 

 

39. Loving What Is: Four Questions That Can Change Your Life - Byron Katie

In Loving What Is, Katie shares about what she now calls The Work, a process that she attributes to ending her suffering and keeping her in a constant state of freedom. The Work is simply four questions that, when applied to a specific problem, enable you to see what is troubling you in an entirely different light.  Katie shows us step-by-step, through clear and vivid examples, exactly how to use this revolutionary process for ourselves, effortlessly undoing the stressful

 

 

40. Dune - Frank Herbert

Set on the desert planet Arrakis, Dune is the story of the boy Paul Atreides—who would become known as Muad’Dib—and of a great family’s ambition to bring to fruition humankind’s most ancient and unattainable dream. A stunning blend of adventure and mysticism, environmentalism and politics, Dune is a triumph of the imagination and one of the bestselling science fiction novels of all time, and formed the basis of what is undoubtedly the grandest epic in science fiction.

 

 

41. Eat, Pray, Love - Elizabeth Gilbert

In her early thirties, Elizabeth Gilbert had everything a modern American woman was supposed to want—husband, country home, successful career—but instead of feeling happy and fulfilled, she was consumed by panic and confusion. This wise and rapturous book is the story of how she left behind all these outward marks of success, and set out to explore three different aspects of her nature, against the backdrop of three different cultures: pleasure in Italy, devotion in India, and on the Indonesian island of Bali, a balance between worldly enjoyment and divine transcendence. Eat Pray Love touched the world and changed countless lives, inspiring and empowering millions of

 

42. The Spell of the Sensuous: Perception and Language in a More-Than-Human World - David Abram

For a thousand generations, human beings viewed themselves as part of the wider community of nature, and they carried on active relationships not only with other people, but with other animals, plants, and natural objects that we have only lately come to think of as "inanimate." How, then, did humans come to sever their ancient reciprocity with the natural world? What will it take for us to recover a sustaining relationship with the breathing earth? Animal tracks, word magic, the speech of stones, the power of letters, and the taste of the wind all figure prominently in this intellectual tour de force that returns us to our senses and to the sensuous terrain that sustains us. This major work of ecological philosophy startles the senses out of habitual ways of perception.

The Most Influential and Life-Changing Books of All Time: 1 to 20

I'm constantly exchanging book recommendations among my friends, teachers, and clients, and I wanted to put a list together of the books that seem to get mentioned more than others as particularly insightful and impactful. 

With this in mind, I recently conducted an informal survey on Facebook to crowdsource a list of the most influential and life-changing books of all time among my network of online friends and friends of friends. A total of 181 books were recommended by about 150 people from a diverse range of backgrounds and interests, with 43 books garnering multiple votes.

I organized the recommended books into categories, and ranked them according to how many votes each book received, and will be posting the results over the next three blog posts, starting with this one.

First is a list of the most influential books from 1 to 20, ranked in order of number of votes received, along with brief descriptions pulled from Amazon. Click on the book cover or title to see it on Amazon. 

Next post will be a list of the most influential books from 21 to 40. 

Finally, I'll list all 181 books by category - fiction or non-fiction - then sub-category, like Philosophy, Personal Development, Fantasy/Sci-Fi, etc. for easy reference.

This is a living list so if you have any further recommendations or comments on books that have changed your life in some profound way, please leave them in the comment section. I'd also love to hear about how these books have impacted you, so feel free to share personal stories as well. 

Enjoy!

The Most Influential Books of All Time: 1 to 20

 

1. The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment - Eckhart Tolle

It's no wonder that The Power of Now has sold over 2 million copies worldwide and has been translated into over 30 foreign languages. Much more than simple principles and platitudes, the book takes readers on an inspiring spiritual journey to find their true and deepest self and reach the ultimate in personal growth and spirituality: the discovery of truth and light. The journey is thrilling, and along the way, the author shows how to connect to the indestructible essence of our Being, "the eternal, ever-present One Life beyond the myriad forms of life that are subject to birth and death." 

 

2. Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life - Marshall Rosenberg

Nonviolent Communication is the integration of 4 things: 1-Consciousness - a set of principles that support living a life of empathy care courage and authenticity Language understanding how words contribute to connection or distance. 2-Language - understanding how words contribute to connection or distance. 3-Communication - knowing how to ask for what we want how to hear others even in disagreement and how to move toward solutions that work for all. 4-Means of influence - sharing power with others rather than using power over others.

 

3. The Alchemist - Paulo Coelho

Combining magic, mysticism, wisdom and wonder into an inspiring tale of self-discovery, The Alchemist has become a modern classic, selling millions of copies around the world and transforming the lives of countless readers across generations. Paulo Coelho's masterpiece tells the mystical story of Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy who yearns to travel in search of a worldly treasure. His quest will lead him to riches far different—and far more satisfying—than he ever imagined. Santiago's journey teaches us about the essential wisdom of listening to our hearts, of recognizing opportunity and learning to read the omens strewn along life's path, and, most importantly, to follow our dreams.

 

4. Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah - Richard Bach

For disillusioned writer and itinerant barnstormer Richard Bach, belief is as real as a full tank of gas and sparks firing in the cylinders ... until he meets Donald Shimoda - former mechanic and self-described messiah who can make wrenches fly and Richard's imagination soar... In Illusions, the unforgettable follow-up to his phenomenal bestseller Jonathan Livingston Seagull, Richard Bach takes to the air to discover the ageless truths that give our souls wings: that people don't need airplanes to soar, that even the darkest clouds have meaning once we lift ourselves above them, and that messiahs can be found in the unlikeliest places - like hay fields, one-traffic-light midwestern towns, and most of all, deep within ourselves.

 

5. A Brief History of Everything - Ken Wilber

Join one of the greatest contemporary philosophers on a breathtaking tour of time and the Kosmos—from the Big Bang right up to the eve of the twenty-first century. This accessible and entertaining summary of Ken Wilber’s great ideas has been expanding minds now for two decades, providing a kind of unified field theory of the universe and, along the way, treating a host of issues related to that universe, from gender roles, to multiculturalism, to environmentalism, and even the meaning of the Internet. This special anniversary edition contains as an afterword a dialogue between the author and Lana Wachowski, the award-winning writer-director of the Matrix film trilogy, in which we’re offered an intimate glimpse into the evolution of Ken’s thinking and where he stands today. A Brief History of Everything may well be the best introduction to the thought of this man who has been called the “Einstein of Consciousness”.

 

6. The Fifth Sacred Thing - Starhawk

An epic tale of freedom and slavery, love and war, and the potential futures of humankind tells of a twenty-first century California clan caught between two clashing worlds, one based on tolerance, the other on repression. Starhawk is one of the most respected voices in modern Goddess religion and earth-based spirituality. She is the author or coauthor of twelve books, including the classics The Spiral Dance and The Fifth Sacred Thing.

 

 

7. Siddhartha - Herman Hesse

In the novel, Siddhartha, a young man, leaves his family for a contemplative life, then, restless, discards it for one of the flesh. He conceives a son, but bored and sickened by lust and greed, moves on again. Near despair, Siddhartha comes to a river where he hears a unique sound. This sound signals the true beginning of his life -- the beginning of suffering, rejection, peace, and, finally, wisdom.

 

 

 

8. The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself - Michael Singer

What would it be like to free yourself from limitations and soar beyond your boundaries? What can you do each day to discover inner peace and serenity? The Untethered Soul offers simple yet profound answers to these questions. Whether this is your first exploration of inner space, or you’ve devoted your life to the inward journey, this book will transform your relationship with yourself and the world around you. You’ll discover what you can do to put an end to the habitual thoughts and emotions that limit your consciousness. By tapping into traditions of meditation and mindfulness, author and spiritual teacher Michael Singer shows how the development of consciousness can enable us all to dwell in the present moment and let go of painful thoughts and memories that keep us from achieving happiness and self-realization.

 

9. Way of the Peaceful Warrior - Dan Millman

Way of the Peaceful Warrior is based on the story of Dan Millman, a world champion athlete, who journeys into realms of romance and magic, light and darkness, body, mind, and spirit. Guided by a powerful old warrior named Socrates and tempted by an elusive, playful woman named Joy, Dan is led toward a final confrontation that will deliver or destroy him. Readers join Dan as he learns to live as a peaceful warrior. This international bestseller conveys piercing truths and humorous wisdom, speaking directly to the universal quest for happiness.

 

10. Conversations with God - Neale Donald Walsch

Neale Donald Walsch was experiencing a low period in his life when he decided to write a letter to God, venting his frustrations. What he did not expect was a response. As he finished his letter, he was moved to continue writing - and out came extraordinary answers to his questions. This work presents the answers that Walsch received, helping him to change himself, his life and the way he viewed other beings.

 

 

11. Soulcraft: Crossing into the Mysteries of Nature and Psyche - Bill Plotkin

Since 1980, depth psychologist Bill Plotkin has been guiding women and men into the wilderness—the redrock canyons and snow-crested mountains of the American West—but also into the wilds of the soul. He calls this work soulcraft. A modern handbook for the journey, Soulcraft is not an imitation of indigenous ways, but a contemporary nature-based approach born from wilderness experience, the traditions of Western culture, and the cross-cultural heritage of all humanity. Filled with stories, poems, and guidelines, Soulcraft introduces over 40 practices that facilitate the descent to soul, including dreamwork, wilderness vision fasts, talking across the species boundaries, council, self-designed ceremony, nature-based shadow work, and the arts of romance, being lost, and storytelling.

 

12. The Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of The Learning Organization - Peter Senge

Peter Senge’s bestselling classic is based on fifteen years of experience in putting the book’s ideas into practice. As Senge makes clear, in the long run the only sustainable competitive advantage is your organization’s ability to learn faster than the competition. The leadership stories in the book demonstrate the many ways that the core ideas in The Fifth Discipline, many of which seemed radical when first published in 1990, have become deeply integrated into people’s ways of seeing the world and their managerial practices. Senge describes how companies can rid themselves of the learning “disabilities” that threaten their productivity and success by adopting the strategies of learning organizations—ones in which new and expansive patterns of thinking are nurtured, collective aspiration is set free, and people are continually learning how to create results they truly desire. 

 

13. Tao Te Ching - Lao Tzu

The Tao Teh King (Tao Te Ching) forms the fundamental core of modern Taoist philosophy and has informed the beliefs and mode of life of the people of China for 2500 years. For all those who seek peace, contentment, harmony and balance in life, the Tao Teh King is an indispensable resource. Lao Tse’s words speak directly to the heart with simple, direct and profound wisdom addressing the core principles of the art of living well.

 

 

14. Women Who Run with the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype - Clarissa Pinkola Estes

Within every woman there is a wild and natural creature, a powerful force, filled with good instincts, passionate creativity, and ageless knowing. Her name is Wild Woman, but she is an endangered species. Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Ph.D., Jungian analyst and cantadora storyteller shows how women's vitality can be restored through what she calls "psychic archeological digs" into the ruins of the female unconsious. Using multicultural myths, fairy tales, folk tales, and stories, Dr. Estes helps women reconnect with the healthy, instinctual, visionary attributes of the Wild Woman archetype. Dr. Estes has created a new lexicon for describing the female psyche. Fertile and life-giving, it is a psychology of women in the truest sense, a knowing of the soul.

 

15. Stranger in a Strange Land - Robert Heinlein

Robert Heinlein's Hugo Award-winning all-time masterpiece, the brilliant novel that grew from a cult favorite to a bestseller to a science fiction classic. Raised by Martians on Mars, Valentine Michael Smith is a human who has never seen another member of his species. Sent to Earth, he is a stranger who must learn what it is to be a man. But his own beliefs and his powers far exceed the limits of humankind, and as he teaches them about grokking and water-sharing, he also inspires a transformation that will alter Earth’s inhabitants forever.

 

 

16. A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose - Eckhart Tolle

With his bestselling spiritual guide The Power of Now, Eckhart Tolle inspired millions of readers to discover the freedom and joy of a life lived “in the now.” In A New Earth, Tolle expands on these powerful ideas to show how transcending our ego-based state of consciousness is not only essential to personal happiness, but also the key to ending conflict and suffering throughout the world. Tolle describes how our attachment to the ego creates the dysfunction that leads to anger, jealousy, and unhappiness, and shows readers how to awaken to a new state of consciousness and follow the path to a truly fulfilling existence. Illuminating, enlightening, and uplifting, A New Earth is a profoundly spiritual manifesto for a better way of life—and for building a better world.

 

17. Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien

In ancient times the Rings of Power were crafted by the Elven-smiths, and Sauron, the Dark Lord, forged the One Ring, filling it with his own power so that he could rule all others. But the One Ring was taken from him, and though he sought it throughout Middle-earth, it remained lost to him. After many ages it fell by chance into the hands of the hobbit Bilbo Baggins. The Lord of the Rings tells of the great quest undertaken by Frodo and the Fellowship of the Ring: Gandalf the Wizard; the hobbits Merry, Pippin, and Sam; Gimli the Dwarf; Legolas the Elf; Boromir of Gondor; and a tall, mysterious stranger called Strider.

 

18. The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying - Sogyal Rinpoche

A newly revised and updated edition of the internationally bestselling spiritual classic, The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, written by Sogyal Rinpoche, is the ultimate introduction to Tibetan Buddhist wisdom. An enlightening, inspiring, and comforting manual for life and death that the New York Times calls, “The Tibetan equivalent of [Dante’s] The Divine Comedy,” this is the essential work that moved Huston Smith, author of The World’s Religions, to proclaim, “I have encountered no book on the interplay of life and death that is more comprehensive, practical, and wise.” 

 

 

19. The Mastery of Love: A Practical Guide to the Art of Relationship - Don Miguel Ruiz

In The Mastery of Love, don Miguel Ruiz illuminates the fear-based beliefs and assumptions that undermine love and lead to suffering and drama in our relationships. Using insightful stories to bring his message to life, Ruiz shows us how to heal our emotional wounds, recover the freedom and joy that are our birthright, and restore the spirit of playfulness that is vital to loving relationships. "Happiness can only come from inside of you and is the result of your love. When you are aware that no one else can make you happy, and that happiness is the result of your love, this becomes the greatest mastery of the Toltec: the Mastery of Love." - don Miguel Ruiz

 

20. The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge - Carlos Castaneda

The teachings of don Juan is the story of a remarkable journey: the first awesome steps on the road to becoming a "man of knowledge" -- the road that continues with A Separate Reality and Journey to Ixtlan. "For me there is only the traveling on paths that have heart, on any path that may have heart. There I travel, and the only worthwhile challenge is to traverse its full length. And there I travel, looking, looking, breathlessly." -- Don Juan

 

 

 

Authentic Relating for Inmates at Boulder County Jail

Authentic Relating for Inmates at Boulder County Jail

I just had the incredible privilege of delivering our ART International Level 1 Authentic Relating course to a dozen inmates at the Boulder County Jail recently. I can't even begin to describe the depths of vulnerability, the courage and honesty, the heartfelt love and soulful beauty of these men that I got to experience... so I'm letting them speak here in their own words. I want to give these men a voice, and a place to be heard and felt, so I had them all write down their experiences of the weekend and I got their permission to share them. These are their unedited reflections.

Welcome Everything

“The world is perfect as it is, including my desire to change it.” - Ram Dass

Welcoming everything is an authentic relating concept that many people find easy to grasp but incredibly hard to master. We don’t expect anyone to be able to fully achieve the ability to truly welcome everything, but even the intention of welcoming everything is one of the most powerful ways to participate in authentic relationship.