This month is Mental Health Awareness month. In light of this, I would like to name one of the well-researched cornerstones of mental wellness or well-being—resourcing. Resourcing is a process of neurologically integrating positive sensations, emotions, and cognitions. This integration of positive resources supports an improved experience of self in the present moment.
We need this resourcing because life is stressful, and our brain is wired for a bias toward negativity. This negativity bias keeps us alive. Yay! However, it also keeps us from thriving and living our one precious life to its potential.
Resourcing can happen in many ways. One way it happens is when we bring to mind a loved one or friend, people who we feel safe with and unconditionally loved by. Nature and natural places like lakes, the ocean, forests, rivers, grass, and the sky also can help us feel connected, supported, and grounded. Our own qualities or characteristics, like feeling strong, patient, kind, or loving, can be reminders of our goodness and ability to manage the stress and strain of living. And our sensory experiences—what we see, taste, touch, hear, or feel—can bring us in touch with a moment in time and remind us that we are living, alive, and vibrant, and there is beauty.
In the future, I will write more about resourcing and resources, and their healing power.
For now, let’s look at another invaluable and powerful resource: books. Books are incredible resources, don’t you think? They are full of information, knowledge, and insight. They help us learn about ourselves and others, feel connected, and find understanding and relatability, with the potential of firing off all kinds of positive sensations, emotions, and cognitions to improve our sense of self.
My 12 recommendations below are of course only a handful of the many amazing books, on topics ranging from mindfulness practice to trauma to sex, that are available to you in order to resource and reclaim your well-being. I think you’ll find one, or many, of the ones below will support a feeling of aliveness and support your resourcing!
Buddhism for Mothers: A Calm Approach to Caring for Yourself & Your Children
By Sarah Napthali
Parenthood can be a time of great inner turmoil for a woman—yet parenting books invariably focus on nurturing children rather than the mothers who raise them. This book is different; simply put, it’s a book for mothers.
Using Buddhist practices, Sarah Napthali offers ways of coping with the day-to-day challenges of motherhood, the day-to-day realities. Through Buddhist teachings, this enlightened book helps mothers to be with their children in the all-important present moment while gaining the most possible joy in those moments. These ways also allow space for the deeper reflections about who women are and what makes them happy. By acknowledging the sorrows as well as the joys of mothering, the book supports a shift in perspective—so that a mother’s mind can be a guide through the day instead of dragging them down. This is Buddhism at its most accessible, applied to the daily realities of parenting.
Come As You Are: Revised & Updated: The Surprising New Science That Will Transform Your Sex Life
by Emily Nagoski
Sex and our relationship with our sexuality is an important aspect of our vitality and wellness. So much of women’s sexuality has been unknown and under-researched in comparison to men. Then comes along Emily Nagoski, who uses groundbreaking science and research to normalize so much of what women find themselves thinking about or feeling when it comes to their bodies, sex, and relationships. Nagoski reminds women that regardless of the factors that impact your sex life (mood, trust, body image, stress), there are no broken parts. You are already sexually whole by just being you.
It’s OK That You’re Not OK: Meeting Grief & Loss in a Culture That Doesn’t Understand
by Megan Devine
This book offers the greatest gift to the grief process, the grieving, and those who witness grief—unconditional love and compassion for it all! There are no wrongs when it comes to grief. Although the brain finds making sense of the death of a dear loved one utterly confusing, exhausting, and almost impossible, Megan Devine allows us to accept death as a mystery to be honored instead of a problem to be solved. This book is a great guide for anyone who is grieving and for those who love them. It points out the cultural misstep in returning to a “normal, happy” life, and instead invites us to become a companion to our grief, building a life alongside it rather than trying to eradicate it.
Just One Thing: Developing a Buddha Brain One Simple Practice at a Time
by Rick Hanson
If you are looking for a book that offers daily doses of practices that help you to manage stress, improve your mood, and cultivate more emotional resilience, this is it. Research shows that repeated, simple daily practices can rewire your brain over time. This book offers 50 daily practices developed specifically to reclaim your well-being and innate joy.
Mindfulness in Action: Making Friends with Yourself Through Meditation and Everyday Awareness
by Chögyam Trungpa
Finding resources or manuals on how to be mindful can be overwhelming. There are so many options today, as mindfulness has become a household word. However, this book is written by Chögyam Trungpa, one of the great masters of our time who brought mindfulness practices to the United States. In this beginners’ guide, Trungpa reminds us that mindfulness meditation can increase a sense of well-being by reducing stress and improving concentration. However, more than that, mindfulness applied in action, in our daily lives, can help us bring more heart and skillful means to all of life’s joys and challenges.
Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life with the Heart of the Buddha
by Tara Brach
“Believing that something is wrong with us is a deep and tenacious suffering,” Tara Brach says at the start of this illuminating book. We suffer in so many ways—paralyzing self-judgements, difficulty in relationships, perfectionism, loneliness, and more. Brach has a knack for weaving in personal stories, case histories, and guided meditations to bring to the reader a well-rounded way of embodying what it means to radically accept ourselves just as we are. Over and over, Brach reminds us that the path is the goal and the goal is the path. Tending to our broken and wounded hearts with warmth and clarity, we can begin to soften our inner constriction and sense our essence, our true selves under it all, which is warm, clear, and open.
Start Where You Are: A Guide to Compassionate Living
by Pema Chödrön
Anything by Pema Chodron is going to be helpful, and this book is a place to begin. It is an indispensable handbook for cultivating fearlessness and awakening a compassionate heart. Chodron is one of the gentlest, honest, and easy to read writers. She has great skill in bringing Buddhist teaching into sharp understanding. This book offers down-to-earth guidance about how starting where you are means embracing, rather than ignoring, painful parts of our lives. It focuses on 59 traditional Tibetan Buddhist slogans to cultivate the courage to work with inner pain while also discovering well-being, joy, and confidence.
Stop Missing Your Life: How to be Deeply Present in an Un-Present World
By Cory Muscara
Cory Muscara is considered a contemporary teacher at the ripe young age of 27. In addition to being a writer, Muscara is a mindfulness instructor. He offers online workshops, and can be found daily at his podcast called Practicing Human. In this book, Muscara encourages readers to peel back the layers that keep us from being our full, honest, alive selves in this world. If you experience living on autopilot and find yourself longing to feel your rich potential, this book reveals how to create new behaviors, to stop self-sabotaging your growth, and to let go of what is in your way.
The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be & Embrace Who You Are
By Brené Brown
Brené Brown has become a leading researcher, luminary, and educator on wellness topics, including vulnerability and shame. Through this motivational and inspiring guide to wholehearted living, Brown encourages us to find our courage to challenge the often-paralyzing fear and self-consciousness we experience in everyday life. She champions the belief that we are worthy of living with curiosity, personal growth, and expansive love. With tremendous research and inspiration, she explores the benefits of dropping the story of “imperfection” and embracing a life full of authenticity and humanness. Brown entices us to live a perfectly imperfect life.
The Wisdom of Anxiety: How Worry and Intrusive Thoughts Are Gifts to Help You Heal
by Sheryl Paul
Anxiety has become the bad guy. Our first instinct is to try to run away or numb out from this feeling. In our culture many believe if you feel anxious, there must be something wrong. Yet, anxiety, is a just another emotion. In this book, counselor Sheryl Paul examines the deeper meaning of anxiety—the racing thoughts, sweaty palms, and insomnia that accompany the uncertain moments of our lives. Paul asks, “What if this feeling was actually a vital source of information about your well-being?” This book will have you pause, listen, and discover what deep down you have been avoiding.
Walking Each Other Home: Conversations on Loving & Dying
by Mirabai Bush and Ram Dass
Have you thought about your own mortality or dying lately? Have you lost a loved one or is a family member dying? We are all dying, and dying scares us. What if we talked more about our own dying, and it was safe to do so? What if you could approach dying with a sense of wonder and love? What if dying were the ultimate spiritual practice?
This book reunites lifelong friends Ram Dass and Mirabai Bush, who converse on the spiritual opportunities in the dying process. They share intimate personal experiences as well as formal practices to invite us on a journey toward the unknown with wide open loving awareness for every step of the way. They reveal another way to be with the dying process that honors the stages and the experience as a sacred passage, one to embrace as fellow travelers, walking each other home.
What Happened to You?: Conversations on Trauma, Resilience & Healing
by Oprah Winfrey and Dr. Bruce Perry
If there is one book I would suggest everyone read, it is this one; it is a lovely, sensitive, honest, and personal discussion between American psychiatrist Bruce Perry, currently the senior fellow of the Child Trauma Academy in Houston, Texas, and Oprah Winfrey. This book makes a strong and compassionate case to begin asking “What happened to you?” instead of “Why are you this way?” Brain science and research is revealing more about how our earliest experiences shape our behavioral patterns so many of us struggle to understand.
With this lens, we can see that what happened to us is not our fault and begin to build a renewed sense of self-worth, and eventually learn to respond rather than react to current circumstances, situations, and relationships. This book is going to change the way you see your life.