#PowerofPause: Summer Reading List

Last month I returned from my six week sabbatical with a renewed sense of passion & purpose. My pause from the hectic life I had grown so accustomed to granted me with the one thing I hadn’t experience in a long time: quiet.

I made it a mission to take full advantage of this freedom from distraction by diving into a number of books I had been waiting to devote my full attention to. Join me as I recount these favorite books from my pause in this #PowerofPause Summer Reading List:

The Places that Scare You, Pema Chodron

Pema Chodron continues to inspire in The Places That Scare You with her lessons on how our most painful experiences can catalyze spiritual awakenings. Adversity allows us to recognize and cultivate our “soft spot,” which Chodron describes as the gateway to compassion.

The unknowns in life are what fuel us and make us stronger. It’s critical that we embrace the questions and uncertainties and the discomfort they entail. If I played it safe, I would never have built Move This World. If I choose to play it safe now, we will continue operating status quo. Every day I have to wake up and choose to go toward the people, situations, and decisions that scare me.

The Art of Happiness at Work, Dr. Howard Cutler and the Dalai Lama

The Art of Happiness at Work, inspired by the most widely read of all of the Dalai Lama’s works (The Art of Happiness) explores the ever-present question of finding the perfect work-life balance to achieve ultimate happiness in the workplace.

Reading this book was a completely validating experience for me and the constant crave for purpose, inspiration and significance we all seek through our work. Most of us spend more time working than doing anything else, so we may as well do work that matters and feel good while doing it.

The Essence of the Heart Sutra, The Dalai Lama

Essence of the Heart Sutra compiles the Dalai Lama’s inspiring “Heart of Wisdom” talks along with commentary and an easily digestible overview of the Buddhist philosophy. The Heart Sutra served as the structure for most of our meditations in the Buddhist center. The Dalai Lama’s writings allowed me to explore the Heart Sutra more deeply and carefully and its applications to daily life.

Shantaram, Gregory David Roberts

Shantaram tells the story of Lin, a convict on the run after fleeing a maximum security prison in Australia in search for a place where he can find solace: the underworld of contemporary Bombay.

Reading Shantaram in India awakened all my senses in the most overt form. Walking through 120 degree weather in chaotic Varansi and being overtaken by the smell of burning bodies along the Ganges felt connected to the sounds and adventure pouring from the pages of this India-based 936 page novel.

Glimpse of Reality, Dr. Alexander Berzin

A fellow Fulbright Scholar, Alexander Berzin has published 17 books, including Relating to a Spiritual Teacher, Taking the Kalachakra Initiation, Developing Balanced Sensitivity, and with H.H. the Dalai Lama, The Gelug-Kagyu Tradition of Mahamudra. Inspired by the process through which Buddhism was translated and adopted from one Asian civilization to another, Berzin has consistently strived to demystify Buddhism and show the practical application of its teachings in everyday life to bridge the traditional Buddhist and modern Western cultures.

Studying in a Buddhist center for 12 days and exploring the concept of Buddhist karma was difficult at first for me, as someone who thinks about, values and in many ways lives life through the lens of free will. Concepts of karma and rebirth felt difficult to grasp, but Dr. Berzin’s work helped me to consider the applications and intersections between free will and karma.

The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity, Julia Cameron

A great friend and accountability partner was the inspiration for reading this life-changing book. A three month process in creative recovery, this is more of a workbook and a process in reclaiming creative identities squashed or pushed aside.

In my case, it meant owning my identity as a dancer, performer and artist, in addition to a CEO and entrepreneur. More than three months have past since I began the process, and I’m still on the path, waking up at 5:30am every morning to free-form write three pages of stream of consciousness before going to the gym. I’ve also kept up my weekly solo “Artist Dates” — sacred dance class that I will not miss- in order to stay connected to my child-like, uninhibited artist.

Teachings on Love, Thich Nhat Hanh

In this collection of “Teachings on Love,” Hanh pulls lessons from traditional Buddhist texts and incorporates nuances of contemporary society to resonate deeply with new readers of today.

My husband jokes that I “Move This Marriage.” We certainly apply concepts and exercises from my work to how we interact, communicate and support one another. Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese monk who’s written more than 100 books and poems, inspired in me new tools and exercises to share gratitude, reflect together, and build collective consciousness with your partner. I’ve already begun experimenting on my husband.

Be Here Now, Ram Dass

A look at spirituality, yoga and meditation, Be Here Now delivers a seminal guide to incorporate these practices into your everyday life. For me this book is about complete surrender and fully accepting the here and now. The past is over. It’s easy to ruminate on missed opportunities or poor decisions, but the past won’t change. The future is full of unknowns. If we think too hard about the past and the future, we miss the now. We can live our best lives by living in the present, freeing ourselves from the past and the future. Reading this book I let go of past feelings of inadequacy and mistakes made, surrendered preconceived notions of the future, and felt self compassion for where I was in that moment, reading on a Himalayan base camp.

Continue the conversation at #PowerofPause