The owl | Dark Chocolate Connoisseur | TV Binge Watcher | Peaches Teaches|

 

davidji 

DAVIDJI has taught millions of people around the world to heal their hearts, plant powerful intentions and manifest their dream lives. His grasp of time tested solutions combined with real-world practical applications, have helped people at every life stage and circumstance find balance, heal deep wounds, and transform into their best versions.

davidji is a globally recognized mind-body health and wellness expert, mindful performance trainer, meditation teacher, and author of the much anticipated and newly released Sacred Powers: The Five Secrets to Awakening Transformation, Amazon’s Best Seller: destressing: The Real-World Guide to Personal Empowerment, Lasting Fulfillment, and Peace of Mind; and Secrets of Meditation: A Practical Guide to Inner Peace & Personal Transformation REVISED EDITION, winner of the Nautilus Book Award. He is credited with creating the 21-day meditation process, which spawned hundreds of 21-day meditation experiences and challenges around the world. Often referred to as the “Velvet Voice of Stillness,” davidji is the most prolific creator of guided meditation and can be heard on more than 1,000 guided meditations, available on Insight Time, Daily OM, Apple Music, Amazon, Hay House, GooglePlay, Spotify, Tidal, Soundcloud, and on davidji.com.

After a 20-year career in business, finance, and mergers and acquisitions, davidji began a new journey to wholeness, apprenticing for a decade under Drs. Deepak Chopra and David Simon, serving as the Chopra Center COO, Lead Educator and then as the first Dean of Chopra Center University, where he trained more than 300,000 people to meditate and certified more than 2,500 meditation teachers.

He has since left the Chopra Center to teach the practical integration of stress management, mindful performance, meditation, and conscious choice making into our real-world, modern-day experiences. For more than 15 years davidji has helped thousands of people around the world to perform at higher levels, become more reflective and less reflexive, make better decisions, sleep better, enhance their relationships, experience abundance, and live purpose-driven lives.

He has a passion for working with entrepreneurs, business leaders & those in high-pressure, high-stress situations. His teachings on stress release, conflict resolution, and mindfulness are now practiced in Fortune 500 companies, the military, law enforcement and his signature techniques have been portrayed in movies and TV.

davidji is a certified Vedic Master, and every week, throughout the world, he hosts empowerment workshops, corporate trainings, life-change immersions, transformational retreats, and teacher trainings.

My 10 Best

(In no order of suggested reading or importance)

Bhagavad Gita, AS IT IS
Translated by AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

 

Translated from Sanskrit as “Song of the Lord”, the Bhagavad Gita walked into my life in college during my enrollment in an experimental Asian studies course where I was first exposed to meditation- and it has been part of every day since. I was in my late teens at the time, and each class was like a layer of my skin was being peeled away. Upon learning that Gandhi, Emerson, Thoreau & Einstein read it every day – I committed myself to the same practice. That’s a lot of Gita!!!

Written around 300BC, the Gita tells the tale of Arjuna, the greatest warrior of all time on the ancient battlefield of Kurukshetra on the brink of leading his 20,000 soldiers into battle against 20,000 troops on the other side. But this is not a battle against the army of another country. Arjuna is the rightful heir to the throne of the kingdom, yet his father is being heavily influenced by his new wife who wants her own son to ascend to the throne. And so, we have an internal schism that pits half of the country against the other half. As he rides his chariot to the center of the battlefield, and gazes out at the opposing army, a sadness weighs on his heart and he falls into deep despair because those he would fight are those he grew up with – his teachers, friends, fellow students, and relatives. And so, this epic battle pits two armies against each other fighting for the conscience of the land. Sounds a bit like our modern-day political polarization.

Arjuna has always stood for truth, justice, courage, morality, and the valiant battle – but now he finds himself at a crossroads, unsure of how to proceed. Slaughter those he knows and love who wish him dead? Or allow his loyal supporters & soldiers to be killed without his leadership? He is so conflicted that he sits down in the middle of the battlefield head in hands. The greatest warrior of all time – overwhelmed, heart-broken, second-guessing himself, unable to actualize his purpose in life, seeking clarity, and questioning every aspect of his being.

Out of nowhere, a man in a chariot comes riding up to Arjuna, claiming to be the greatest charioteer of all time – and offers to lead Arjuna into battle.

The greatest warrior of all time doesn’t want to fight and is at such a crossroads until the charioteer reveals that he is actually God, the Hindu deity Krishna, disguised as a man. And so, begins a conversation between a conflicted warrior -agonizing over his dilemma – and God. Over the course of 18 chapters and 700 verses, the two discuss life, death, love, duty, trust, meditation, purpose, meaning, yoga, devotion, service, karma, dharma, choices, how to proceed in life, what happens when we die, and every other topic imaginable. It’s breathtaking.

This epic ancient story impacted me at the soul level and continues to teach me every day. Through a daily immersion into these timeless wisdom teachings, I’ve actually learned the ancient language of Sanskrit; found answers to some of my deepest questions; gained clarity when I’ve been at a crossroads; crystalized my values; discovered a deeper understanding of life; and awakened to my purpose in this lifetime. I have traveled to this battlefield in north India – and stood right where Arjuna stood during his conversations with God. And I have devotionally studied over 50 different translations of the Gita including Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s, Paramahansa Yogananda’s and Eknath Easwaren’s. These books lie scattered over every room in my house waiting to be picked up in a spare moment.

Each decade of my life, the Gita has been a light to take me to the next station. I can’t wait to see where it guides me next!!!

W.E.B. Du Bois
and The Soules of Black Folk
by Stephanie J. Shaw

 

One of the greatest scholars in our history, W.E.B. was the first black person to receive a doctorate from Harvard. His life spanned the late 1800s straight through the 1960s. He saw it all. This book was given to me when I was 5 years old. I was told to devour it and it has been core to my understanding of life ever since. It is one of the most important books I have ever read and established the platform for understanding the world around me. I am white and was raised by a black woman who was my primary caregiver until I was 12.

Dr. Du Bois introduced the concept of double consciousness into our lexicon – the feeling that your identity is divided into several parts – he wrote and spoke about this within the context of race relations in 1903 – his assertion was that American blacks live in a society that has historically repressed and devalued them – and that it has been difficult for them to unify their black identity with their American identity. This was only 38 years after the original Juneteenth in 1865 – when slavery was “officially” abolished.

Double consciousness forces you to see yourself through your own unique perspective but also as you might be perceived by the outside world – for blacks & Latinos by whites, for gays by straights, for cops by the non-cop world, for Jews by non-Jews. I experienced this in Israel over my last few trips there. I witnessed this duality between Palestinians and Israelis – where Palestinians actually need permits to visit outside of the West Bank and there is a curfew that they cannot violate… even to get back to their homes. Through my time in Israel, I got to witness this double consciousness of the Palestinians – and by witnessing it – by placing our attention on it – we were all moved to a state of intention – to heal them, to elevate their plight, to speak of it.

And we can see this dual consciousness anyplace in our world where there is a lack of dignity, respect, equality or equity.

Du Bois saw this as an agony – and I have etched his words from The Souls of Black People pretty deeply into my heart. He wrote, “one ever feels his two-ness, two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings, two warring ideals in one dark body whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.”

Du Bois asks us all to consider – do you flow your most authentic expression in your thoughts, words, and actions, in your relationships, in your career, in conversations with friends, in social media postings – or do you pander and compromise and virtue signal so others like you, accept you, or don’t get their feathers ruffled?

Do you create content that will spark deep thought and perhaps receive attacks – or do you dumb it down to not offend more people?

With Covid being a real part of our reality – and social/racial injustice so in the forefront of each day– it’s impossible to not have attention on these things. Simply being aware of the deep personal lenses that we all look through will move us from thought to words to action to shift the scales of our planet to a more even footing.

Dr. Du Bois is as relevant right now as he was 120 years ago. His message is that if we are going to serve the world – we must be strong, we must be clear, we must be open-hearted, we must be courageous, we must be calm so we can speak with integrity and impeccability. We must be truly aware of what our moral compass is, what our values are, what our agenda is, what’s important to us to get done in our lives right now. This book will corkscrew into your heart and never let go.

Walden
by Henry David Thoreau

 

Too many mic-drop lines in this book to mention. Thoreau was a very complex person – a lifelong abolitionist; a philosopher of nature and its relation to the human condition; a believer that Nature is the outward sign of inward spirit; an early proponent of ecology & environmentalism; and a champion in the power of the individual to resist government over-reach through civil disobedience.

When he was 27, Thoreau moved to a cabin in the woods of Massachusetts owned by Ralph Waldo Emerson on the banks of Walden Pond. He spent two years, two months and two days writing about the experience as he lived off the land, communed with nature, and dove deep into the nuances of the human experience.

He worked on the manuscript for years, refining it and ultimately publishing a magnificent self-reflection that spans four seasons over one year and the physical, emotional and spiritual journey we all experience as we confront our deepest questions, fears, hopes, and dreams.

Walden poetically takes you on a powerful journey through all the ins and outs of your life – the highs and lows…twists and turns… always moving you ever so close to the thread of spirit that runs through everything. If you’ve ever been stuck in the past, dive into Walden. Here’s one paragraph from Spring: “We should be blessed if we lived in the present always, and took advantage of every accident that befell us, like the grass which confesses the influence of the slightest dew that falls on it; and did not spend our time in atoning for the neglect of past opportunities, which we call doing our duty. We loiter in winter while it is already spring.”

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali
Just pick a translation, and begin there

 

Written more than 2000 years ago, the great Indian sage Patanjali was the first person who codified all the aspects of yoga into eight practices or categories known as the 8 limbs of yoga. We mostly think of yoga as a physical practice but it’s actually a deep and multi-dimensional philosophy containing physical, social, emotional, energetic, and spiritual guidance for living life at your best. Illuminated in 196 teachings known as sutras, Patanjali lays them all out as: 1) the yamas – codes of social behavior 2) the niyamas – personal practices 3) asana – the poses 4) pranayama – breathing techniques 5) pratyahara – mastery of the senses 6) dharana – attention 7) dhyana – meditation and 8) samadhi – living a self-actualized life as a unified being.

This is the backstory and elucidation of everything we now consider “yoga”. And yoga simply means union or one-ness. This is a text that I have come back to over and over again to help me understand methods to live my life with greater grace & ease.

Whether you are a practicing yogi or someone taking your first step on the spiritual path, The Yoga Sutras will support you in every cycle of your life and help you become a more complete human being. The second sutra Yoga Citta Vritti Nirodha contains a lifetime of wisdom. Translated from Sanskrit to English, it means “One-ness is the progressive quieting of the fluctuations of the mind”. And when we can slow our mind just a little bit, we can hear the whispers in our heart… the whispers of God.

Ulysses
By James Joyce

 

This book is one of those timeless classics that we can read over and over & continue to glimpse deeper insights from. I recommend that you first read the Odyssey – one of the great ancient Greek epics – since that was my process – and it is the foundational work that inspired Joyce. Both of these stories are essentially Hero’s journeys – one ancient & one modern. I wrote my senior these on Ulysses – specifically the parallels between the Irish quest for freedom & independence and the Israelite’s biblical journey out of Egyptian captivity. But the amazing thing about Ulysses, is that it is a non-stop stream of consciousness, by our protagonist Leopold Bloom, that takes place over the course of one day – June 16, 1904 and mirrors the ten-year journey of the Odyssey following a decade-long war.

We are all at some stage on a Hero’s journey. At first, we have feelings of being orphaned or separate or alienated from Source. Then we sense a calling to begin a journey of deeper discovery. And, so we respond to the invitation and take the first step on our path – and begin encountering challenges and tests… both big and small. At some point, we find ourselves over-whelmed and knocked down by these trials. It is here where we lose faith, second-guess ourselves – and question everything. And, in our darkest moment – we face our greatest challenge & our deepest fears. We may rumble around in this abyss for days, weeks, or years – but then there is stroke of clarity – an aha! Moment – an awakening – or simply a deep understanding of meaning – and we return home with our answer. Of course, when we return home and share our new-found insights, the world is not as receptive to the magnificence of our solution because they have not been on our journey. And so again, we feel orphaned or separate from the whole and begin another journey…

We are all Ulysses… just like Leo Bloom, we’re all just trying to make it through the day as our best version. Filled with hopes and dreams, our past and our memories, our demons and our archetypes… stepping through life one breath at a time. Joyce magnificently humanizes a magnificent warrior – and in that humanization we see our self. Ulysses will inspire you forever.

 

Absolute Tao
by Osho

 

Osho, also known as Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, was one of the most provocative philosophers, spiritual teachers, gurus, and authors of our time. But most of the books supposedly “authored” by Osho were actually collections of transcripts of the hundreds of daily satsangs (teaching sessions) he held with his devotees. Absolute Tao is one of those books. I first read it in 2003, and it became the comet that hurled me out of my comfort zone and invited me to challenge every rule, norm, practice, and understanding regarding my personal spiritual practice. Osho is the most complex teacher I have ever come across. A contradiction in every aspect of his life, he purposely used humor and emotional turbulence to shatter dogma wherever he could. He asked his devotees to step beyond their material needs—offer them up to his cause and yet at the same time, he collected over 80 Rolls Royces and drove them around each day on his ashram. He stressed the importance of love, forgiveness, light-heartedness, kindness, creativity, and meditation. He openly had sexual relationships with many of his adherents – never denied it… and pursued them even more once it was revealed. He was light-filled, brilliant, very well-read, iconoclastic, heart-based, irreverent, offensive, funny, arrogant, hysterical, maddening, enlightening, frustrating, and charismatic.

In the ancient teachings, TAO is “the way.” According to Osho, Tao is a thread of balance that runs through us and acts as a guide to living life in flow. When we are sad, it’s simply a symptom that somewhere we have gone against the Tao. And he teaches many mechanisms, including meditation, as ways for us to navigate back to balance. Absolute Tao is an ongoing quest. There is no finish line. Every day we need to keep moving back to balance… using the tools… and living our best life possible.

Osho is controversial and I don’t agree with many of his belief systems and behaviors. But I consider him one of my greatest teachers for always forcing me to pay attention to what matters in life. Osho created his own Ten Commandments. I’ll list his 10th right here: Do not search. That which is, is. Stop and see.

Absolute Tao is a magnificent journey and a perfect starting point to someone willing to open their mind and their heart at the same time. Caution: you will never be the same.

The Four Agreements
by Don Miguel Ruiz

 

(Disclaimer—I am a huge fan and friend of don Miguel Ruiz & his two sons don Jose & don Miguel Jr.) As a long-time student of Buddhist teachings, and specifically the wisdom contained in the Buddha’s Noble Eight-fold Path, I have explored and practiced Right View, Right Intention, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, and Right Samadhi. Fast forward 2600 years, and we have don Miguel’s magnificent translation of this ancient wisdom into The Four Agreements: Be impeccable with your word, Don’t take anything personally;\, Don’t make assumptions, and Always do your best.

To begin the book, don Miguel speaks lovingly of his grandmother—a powerful healer who was immersed in the spiritual belief system of the ancient Toltec people, an artisan culture having its beginnings in Hidalgo, Mexico around 1000 years ago. She is the one who transmitted these powerful teachings to him so that he could share them with the world. The Toltec wisdom traditions were also infused into the culture of the Aztec Empire that evolved 300 years later. And if we go back to the Buddha’s Noble 8-fold path, the foundations of these four simple teachings are Right View; Right Speech; Right Intention; and Right Effort. So, the “Four Agreements” have been time-tested for thousands of years in North America and previous to that on the Indian subcontinent.

Don Miguel explains that each of us goes through our early years making agreements with our self, God, and the world around us that compromise who we are and—in his words—“domesticate” us. The persona we sculpt during our youth is a dumbed-down version of our true nature and heavily influences our sense of self and our sense of our reality. This domestication process, based on fear and playing small, covertly holds us back as we grow older, creates suffering, and molds our belief systems, preventing us from experiencing our true potential. Don Miguel stresses that in order for each of us to fully self-actualize and experience freedom, happiness, love, and fulfillment, we need to rewrite our agreements.

The teachings in this book are simple, accessible, and memorable. And don Miguel shares with us a transformational blueprint for unraveling the non-nourishing agreements which have held us back and replacing them with the life-affirming Four Agreements. They have been a guide for me over the past 20 years and a brilliant self-reflective tool for when I find myself playing small.

The Ten Commitments
by David Simon

 

I apprenticed for a decade under Dr. Deepak Chopra and his partner of 20 years Dr. David Simon. A brilliant neurologist, biblical scholar, powerful yogi, insightful teacher, and my closest friend, Dr. Simon was a magnificent fusion of modern Western science and the healing arts of the East.

This transformational book is his spin on the Ten Commandments which he described as a lot of “Thou shalts” and “Thou shalt nots.” He confided in me that although he believed in God and was a practicing Jew, he felt the Ten Commandments were a bit finger-wagging; a bit fire & brimstone-esque. But commitments are different than commandments. The Ten Commandments are rules that God has laid out, and they’re powerful and have been incorporated into so many cultures and societies as an important framework for how we should live our lives. But humans are not so compliant,  they often resist when someone else (even if it is God) is telling them how to live their life. We comply when an authority figure tells us what we should do, but that doesn’t necessarily shift us inside.

We follow the rule because the consequence of not following the rule is a scold or a firm spank. But commitments are different. Commitments are deep internal contracts that we make with ourselves; essentially a bond we make between our best self and our most flawed human mortal self. So, they have a higher likelihood of sticking because we believe them at the level of our soul. The ten commitments are:

1 – I commit to freedom
2 – I commit to authenticity
3 – I commit to acceptance
4 – I commit to relax
5 – I commit to wholeness
6 – I commit to forgiveness
7 – I commit to love
8 – I commit to abundance
9 – I commit to truth
10 – I commit to peace

This is a beautiful book built on turning good intentions into great choices. It speaks to all the upside we have in this life and all the real-world action steps we can take to elevate our decisions in every moment to raise our vibration. After reading this book, I made a commitment to make daily commitments at the end of my meditation practice. I have not missed a day, and because of Dr. David Simon, my life has moved a bit closer every day to the fulfillment of my dreams and desires.

Dominion, the Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals and the Call to Mercy by Matthew Sculley

 

Definitely not the book you expect from the former speech writer of President George W. Bush, but this book will truly awaken you. Throughout my life, I’ve been a carnivore, vegetarian, pescatarian, vegan, and omnivore. Sculley takes us on a deep dive into our relationship to animals—all animals—in the wild, in our homes, in factory farming… and we see the reality that man has total dominion over every creature.

We can make them extinct if we want to. We can dominate them, take them out of their natural environment, and place them in captivity. We can use them as food sources and cuddle with them on the couch. The author does not preach—in fact, he is not a vegetarian! But he reveals these otherwise hidden worlds outside of our day-to-day and invites us to simply reflect—even if it’s just between bites of a meal—on the relationship between man and animal. This book made me so much more mindful of MY relationship to animals and helped me in my personal evolution of crafting my world view. If you ever wonder about our relationship with animals, Dominion will give you insights you’ll carry forever.

 

Nonviolent Communication
by Marshall B. Rosenberg Ph.D

 

Isn’t it crazy that emotional intelligence is not a course taught in school? Communication is a critical skillset; but not something most of us are coached in or trained in. Dr. Rosenberg has laid out a powerful 4-step process to help people communicate better and have their needs met more frequently and at a higher level. The techniques contained in this book have been used to elevate peace in the Middle East, at the UN, in corporate boardrooms, and in private bedrooms around the world.

These techniques are very easy to integrate into our lives. But the more profound take-away is that by practicing on a daily basis, we exponentially improve our vocabulary when describing our feelings and explaining our needs to ourselves and others.

The four steps are: 1) observing without evaluating; 2) identifying and expressing feelings 3) sharing our needs, and 4) making requests consciously.

If we can commit to practicing this process every time one of our needs is not met by another person, there is a higher likelihood that our needs will be met. And if our needs are met more frequently, we will live happier lives and our relationships will be deeper. NVC is a powerful tool for awakening empathy, compassion, and peace in every aspect of our life.

Using NVC on a regular basis has allowed me to reconnect with those in my life where there was conflict and discomfort. I can guarantee that if you take even a small step in the direction of more conscious communication techniques, your relationships will thrive, your sense of connection will expand, and you will meet your needs more consistently.