Blissful books: living a life full of healing and dreams

This year I’ve read many books with small groups of people all around the world. I even set up one book club at 3.00 am my time to jump on a call with friends from New Zealand and the UK at a time that worked best for them! I can categorically say – I will not make that sacrifice again for a book club!

But reading these books – and the healing and growth that I’ve created by discussing them and putting the learnings into practice – has been worth it!

[A]ll true knowing involves action. You don’t really know something until you can use it. … The key to wisdom and knowing is in having unconscious competence in using your knowledge to create positive change in your world.

Grant Soosalu, “Avoiding the Enemies to Happiness”

Books that impacted me this year:

books I read in 2021, mBraining, using your multiple brains to do cool stuff, the intention experiment, Lynne McTaggart, The Bond, How to fix your falling down world, using your thoughts to change your life and the world, what are you reading, reading list, self-improvement, personal development, growth, learning

Reading Lynne McTaggart

I started off the year finishing up two of Lynne McTaggart’s books, as in 2020 I had read the first two books:

  • The Power of Eight
  • The Field

The beauty of Lynne McTaggart’s books is that they get more accessible and more practical as you get through them. The Power of Eight is hard going: it’s basically case-study upon case-study as she works her way through the various experiments conducted and the science. Yes, practical applications are presented, but it’s not easy reading!

The Field gets a little better, but it’s still entirely theoretical. She’s covering a topic “way out in the left-field” on Quantum Physics, the existence of the Divine, and consciousness of all things. Dr Joe Dispenza talks about it as being “the Space”.

On the other hand, The Intention Experiment gets down to earth and is practical in its application. So, you have the knowledge of all these scientific experiments that show that there is something more “out there” – and that intentions work. But what can you do with this in your own life and for the good of others?

It implies that reality is not fixed, but fluid, or mutable, and hence possibly open to influence.

Lynne McTaggart, The Intention Experiement

But what good is all of this if we aren’t applying it in our lives?

The evidence convinced me that we can improve our health, enhance our performance in every area of our lives, and possibly even affect the future by consciously using intention.

Lynne McTaggart, The Intention Experiement

But it’s not enough to just read the books if we aren’t putting it all into practice! I’m blessed – because I have an amazing small group of women that meets every Monday morning (much like a prayer meeting) – and we discuss our challenges, set our intentions and then hold those intentions for each other for a few minutes before getting on with our week!

Reading the books is great – but putting it into practice is where it’s really at!

The Bond was even more practical and down-to-earth than The Intentional Experiment. Of all her books, this was the one that I most enjoyed, and I will definitely re-read in 2022! This book looks at our intentions and our connection to everything and everyone in the environment around us.

The world essential operates, not through the activity of individual things, but in the connection between them – in a sense, in the space between them.

Lynne McTaggart, The Bond

This book looks at topics like epigenetics, wholeness and recovering our connectedness. For me, the most beautiful part of it was the challenge “to pay it forward” – that we create a better world when we recognise that our role is to pay forward to a stranger the good and charity we have received.

It’s Not Your Money – Tosha Silver

I also started the year by redoing “It’s Not Your Money” by Tosha Silver. I first read this book in 2020 and offered it as a book club in 2021.

What I love about this book is that it tied in so beautifully with my personal journey of learning to surrender and let go and trust.

A big word for me in 2021 was “trust”, but I didn’t really know how much until later in the year, as I got deeper into my nervous system and patterns of behaviour buried deep in my childhood trauma!

It's Not Your Money, Tosha Silver,

mBraining & Coaching

I also started the year re-reading mBraining: How to use your multiple brains to do cool stuff, by Grant Soosalu & Marvin Oka. This was my fourth time through the book: and what amazes me is that I learned new information and learnings as I went back through it again! Obviously, each time I read a book, it’s a more recent version of me that is reading – impacted by the learning and knowledge that I have accumulated along life’s journey.

But I will read something and think: how did I miss this passage last time? Is it possible that I never read this before?

But I come back and see it again with fresh eyes!

I am an mBIT (multiple brain integration techniques) coach – which means that I am constantly studying the neuroscience of the head, heart & gut – especially the head-gut connection and how the vagus nerve and autonomic nervous system impact our daily lives! All of this plays a massive part in my personal healing journey (not just physically, but also mental, emotional and spiritual).

And yet, I am in awe of what I didn’t know!

mBIT Coaching workbook, the Polyvagal Theory in Therapy, Deb Dana, Grant Soosalu, Marvin Oka, autonomic nervous system, vagus nerve, sympathetic nervous system, parasympathetic nervous system, fight and flight, rest and digest,

The second quarter of 2021 saw me diving deeper into mBraining. After an amazing 9 weeks going through the mBraining book with two different groups (one in Australia/New Zealand and the other in the UK), I wanted to dive deeper into my experience.

So, I redid the course on the mBraining Workbook. This is 16 chapters (with exercises) of diving into your patterns and habits – how do you do you? The mBraining Workbook took us 32 weeks to work through, as we got together every fortnight to discuss the chapter and exercises.

Unlike my first time through this course – when I was focused on learning (theory) – I went through it this time focused on myself and my patterns and responses. It’s amazing how much you learn when you do the exercises, rather than just trying to learn the theory. I would not recommend these books as light reading to anyone!

The Polyvagal Theory in Therapy

I also read and discussed with my personal book club (which included mBIT coaches) Deb Dana’s book The Polyvagal Theory in Therapy.

Of all the books I read in 2021 – The Polyvagal Theory in Therapy is the book that most changed and transformed my life!

The Polyvagal Theory in Therapy, Deb Dana, fight and flight, depression, dissociation, isolation, relaxation, calm, balanced, centred, centered, disconnected, self-absorbed, emotionally disengaged, blind trust, distrust, helplessness, shutdown, numb, avoidance, desperation, anger, anxiety, mentally scattered,
calm and relaxed, fight and flight, dissociated and shut down – hiding from the world

While this book was not easy reading (I don’t recommend it unless you’ve already done a lot of inner work, healing and therapy), mBraining suddenly made sense to me after reading this!

I did many of the exercises that Deb Dana suggests – like the art project shown – exploring my three “states” of being.

Through this work, I started to recognise what happens when I hit anger – I “rebound” straight into shutdown and dissociation from the situation. Unfortunately, it’s easy for me to stay in this state.

Another really amazing – remarkably simply – exercise in this book that was life-changing was a simple change in posture by stretching. I regularly use this exercise when I feel tired and lethargic and notice an immediate shift in my energy.

fetal position, stretching, posture, sitting up straight,

The exercise is simply this: going into a fetal-like position allowing my head and shoulders to droop forward as far as comfortable (imagining my body shutting down) – then stretching up and out (imagining that all the energy of the Universe flows through me) – and finally moving back into a normal upright position.

There was so much more than this, but working through the exercises and discussions was phenomenal.

Avoiding the Enemies to Happiness

avoiding the enemies to happiness, Grant Soosalu, positive psychology, NLP, mBIT, mBraining, create more happiness,

Another book that I will need to read a second time through (at least) to begin to even digest all the amazing content and goodness!

This is a “how-to” book – packed full of exercises and journaling prompts, as well as all the theoretical background about why it works.

I have so many post-it notes in this book and if I went through it with a highlighter I’m not sure that there would be much that wasn’t coloured. But at the end of the day, I am left with one simple question:

So what?

What will I do with what I learned from this book? Life is what I do, not what I know.

I discuss one of the many insights (on the topic of Trust) from this book in my spiritual blog: Trust, Distrust & Blind Trust: rebuilding faith & hope as well as on Medium: Trust and trusting: how to move out of blind faith. I still have a lot of learning to do on Trust – not more about theory – but putting it into my daily practice of living.

A look at life from the Feminine

Divine Feminine, Goddesses in Everywoman, The Heroine's Journey, a map for every woman's quest, Maureen Murdock, Jean Shinoda Bolen, Goddess archetypes, mother, maiden, virgin,
looking into the Divine Feminine

Sometimes, we need a friend to take us on a journey where we would never have gone ourselves. And I have my friend Vikki to thank for this journey into the Divine Feminine. These books would never have made it onto my personal reading list if Vikki hadn’t invited me to join her book club and read them with her!

And yet, I’m so glad I did!

While Goddesses in Everywoman resonated, it was our deep dive into The Heroine’s Journey that truly brought about inner transformation: reconnecting with myself as a woman! Because of this, I dared to further question my definitions of success and desires.

A woman loses her ‘inner fire’ when she is not being fed, when the soul’s flame is no longer fueled, when the promise of the dream held for so long dies. Old patterns no longer fit, the new way is not yet clear; there is darkness everywhere…

Marti Glenn, in The Heroine’s Journey

Once again, however, it wasn’t reading the book that transformed my perspective – instead, it was doing the exercises and then discussing them with others that allowed me to look at my life differently and choose new ways of being.

That’s the real possibility that opens up!

With Vikki and others, I am now on a journey through Unbound, which we will finish in early 2022.

Books for Personal Growth & Change

In the midst of all of this, I participated in Wendy Bruce‘s book club (focused on management and leadership), where we read and discussed Total Leadership and The Coaching Habit. While Total Leadership was a good book, The Coaching Habit was simply brilliant. Short. Sweet. To the Point.

It doesn’t matter whether you are in leadership or a team member, this is a great read about better conversations! Sure, it’s a great book for coaching – but I think that the real joy of this book is that it takes your focus onto the other person and truly understands them.

Even as a mother of an 8-year-old, the questions in this book set a great tone for real conversations! It starts with a really simple question: “What’s on your mind?”. And then I listen in order to understand.

Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself was one of the books that my personal book club read and discussed this year. If you’ve read or done any Dr Joe Dispenza work, you know that the theory he presents is merely to support all the exercises and practices! It’s not about head knowledge, but about doing – and I am not consistently spending time in meditation! And I’m still putting these learnings into practice. I can see myself repeating this book again in 2022 to put this into practice further.

A year full of Gratitude

The Magic, Rhonda Byrne, 28 day gratitude challenge, count your blessings
Living in Gratitude, Angeles Arrien, monthly gratitude challenge

In January, I started Living in Gratitude which has twelve months of gratitude practices. There are daily practices as well as reflections. It’s a little dry and I don’t think this will make my “read again” list, but it was a great book to take me through the year with gratitude.

I am finishing off the year repeating the 28-day challenge of gratitude in The Magic, which I find more challenging and inspiring. At the same time, I can’t see myself repeating this every month, so in the new year, I will find a new gratitude practice for the year that provides me with the requisite variety.

The Artist’s Way – the struggle is real!

If I told you this was easy, I’d be lying! Of all the books that I am struggling to put into practice, this has got to be the one that I consistently resist and fight against!

I don’t want to do my morning pages daily or with any regularity. I hate truly getting in touch with myself and my inner child and critic. I am disgusted by my fears.

And I most certainly do not want to spend time with myself on the Artist’s Date.

The Artist's Way, Julia Cameron, a spiritual path to higher creativity

And yet, here I am, redoing the book for a 2nd time, because of this resistance.

The results are excellent when I do the work and actually get my thoughts on the page. But I also scare the bejeebers out of myself and then find myself going AWOL. 2021 might not be the year that I create a habit of daily writing in my journal, but I know the power of doing so. And I see the results in my life.

For now, I am just taking it one day at a time. What is coming up is daring to dream bigger, and it scares me.

What’s in store for 2022?

I’m kicking off my first book club of 2022 on the 10th of January with the 21-day Consciousness Cleanse. I read this book the first time in December 2020, and I think it’s a great way to start off the year!

What do I hope to gain from this?

A deeper practise of connecting with my purpose, especially as I will be journaling daily in my morning pages.

Resistance be damned.

I’m also considering reading again Think & Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill – one of those classics that I love to revisit. I see it as a spiritual book – not about money, but abundance in general. Getting great clarity about “what do I really want to co-create in my life?”

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