Contemplative | Adventure-seeking | Imaginative | Space Cadet | Author | Psychologist
I have been addicted to books for as long as I can remember. I loved going to libraries and bookstores as other kids probably felt about Toys R Us. My main interests have always been psychology and spirituality. My mom had been trained as a Rogerian therapist and our home was filled with books by Carl Rogers and other popular self help books from the 60’s. Picking 10 of my favorite spiritual books was a lot of fun and only after the fact, I noticed a theme of “states of mind” linked to both COVID-19 and my main professional work of treating and writing about ADHD as a clinical psychologist. For example, I was pulled to a book on contemplation of great art works and realized that contemplation is the opposite of doom scrolling. We can choose to direct our attention to the art which represents the best of human nature – and engage it with wide open attention that goes deeper and increases our self-knowledge and hope about what it means to be human. Contemplation might also be a deeper sort of attention that is exploratory and open rather than narrowly focused.
Lara Honos-Webb, PhD is a clinical psychologist licensed in California. She is author of Six Super Skills for Executive Functioning: Tools to Help Teens Improve Focus, Stay Organized, and Reach Their Goals (2020), Brain Hacks, The Gift of ADHD, The Gift of ADHD Activity Book, The Gift of Adult ADD, The ADHD Workbook for Teens, Listening to Depression.
Her work has been featured in USA Today, Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, U.S. News & World Report, The Chicago Tribune, and more. Honos-Webb completed a two-year postdoctoral research fellowship at University of California, San Francisco, and has been an assistant professor for graduate students. She has published 26 scholarly articles.
Her website is: www.addisagift.com
My 10 Best
by Juliet Benner
I love the book Contemplative Vision by Juliet Benner because it invites an attitude of contemplation toward great works of art as a spiritual practice. Contemplation is deeply missing in today’s world of scrolling through news and social media and being pulled and pushed emotionally in every direction within five minutes. In contemplating The Incredulity of St. Thomas by Caravaggio the author highlights that faith means to go beyond the worldly perceptions of reality and highlights the words of Jesus to Thomas “Blessed are those who did not see, and yet believed” (John 20:29).
Each chapter invites questions for your personal reflection and contemplation. I like that there is value placed on the process of contemplation as a relief from the value of getting a right answer or living up to some standard. I like reclaiming the value of contemplation as an end in and of itself.
The Wisdom of Florence Scovel Shinn
by Florence Scovel Shinn
This is a volume of all of the four collected works of the author. Florence was a pioneer in the now popular positive psychology or interest in the law of attraction and positive thinking. In addition to hundreds of affirmations she emphasizes the importance of imagination in creating reality. Imagination in her mind is not just idle fantasy but the very mechanism of creating a life we want.
While many of these ideas have become wildly popular, her books feel fresh and original. She combines valuing the imagination with valuing intuition. There is more imaginative playfulness to her approach than the sense I get from more modern works on manifestation.
by Christel Nani
In Sacred Choices, medical intuitive Christel Nani writes about the way distorted tribal beliefs can create physical and psychological suffering. She offers an approach where we challenge distorted beliefs such as “relationships require a lot of work” with upgraded beliefs like “it’s reasonable to believe relationships can be fun and easy.” Much of the book reviews limiting beliefs such as needing to take of others to earn a sense of worth and suggesting more healthy positive ways to talk to yourself. These reframes offer permission to own your own gifts and the value of self-care to model for others what healthy self- esteem looks like.
She helps the reader recognize warning signs that tribal beliefs are at conflict with our best interest such as noticing if you are tired, feeling resentful, frustrated or trapped. She invites the reader to notice their level of energy in choices they make and to be willing to create new beliefs if a course of action lowers their energy. She writes that many health problems can be related to compromising our own well being to fulfill the societally inherited “shoulds” which range from “change is hard” or “struggle builds character.” Overall, her book suggests we can examine our beliefs about relationships, money, work, mistakes and more to free ourselves to make choices that can free us from inherited and unhealthy beliefs and expectations. It may be as simple as letting yourself take a day off work or as big as being willing to look foolish by pursuing goals others don’t approve of.
Ordinary People as Monks and Mystics: Lifestyles for Spiritual Wholeness by Marsha Sinetar
This is an older book that I found myself thinking of it as we go through COVID-19. Sinetar defines a monk as a person who detaches from a comfortable life to go on an inner journey of self-discovery. While I don’t have the natural personality of a monk, I used this ideal as a way to develop this part of myself during the required social distancing during the pandemic. For me it means practicing mindfulness, and turning social isolation into a chance to evaluate how I spend a lot of my time. I began to open to the value of the monk state of mind – practicing a discipline as well as stepping outside of social structure. While the monk develops a practice, a mystic discovers a quieter voice within the self.
She defines a mystic as deepening the exploration of the spiritual life finding that “still small voice within.” I think that time free of distractions has made me question what I think became an addictive need to be busy as an unhealthy normal societal standard. Taking a step back American culture feels a bit manic and this has been a chance to set lower expectations on level of busyness.
Dreams: God’s Forgotten Language
by John Sanford
My 30-year study of dreams through books, courses, dream groups and dream therapists has been the most humbling path for me. John Sanford’s book Dreams: God’s Forgotten Language is a reminder that the effort to remember and make sense of dreams can touch on ultimate concerns. The challenge or sorting through the challenge of making meaning of dreams can open insights that could be reached only through dreams. Alternately, more often than not I’m left mystified about what a dream means and resort to accepting the experience it itself that I can’t make meaning out of.
Through all my study one perspective that is left out of my professional trainings is that dreams drive most of the plot of the Bible, and were considered to be communications from God in the Bible. John Sanford writes that “the entire Bible is the story of God’s breakthrough into the human conscious mind via the unconscious.” (p. 94). He also writes that visions in the Bible are on the same continuum of dreams as ways that God communicates through the visionary state of mind to direct humans and history.
Wild Goose Chase
by Mark Batterson
Mark Baterson’s book Wild Goose Chase is a study of the Holy Spirit that surprises by suggesting that the fundamental characteristic of guidance by the holy spirit is the unpredictability, uncertainty and unsettling nature can be likened to a wild goose chase. He writes “most of us have no idea where we are going most of the time.” While this approach can be/feel terrifying it is what we mean by being open to adventure. This dichotomy between an adult who seeks safety and the holy spirit to unsettle and overturn security mirrors my experience with dream interpretation that often leads to unsettling rather than pat answers. The message of the book is that it’s about a holy spirit that knows more than we do about what we are supposed to do and where we are supposed to be.
Find Your Purpose, Change Your Life: Getting to the Heart of Your Life’s Mission by Carol Adrienne
This book is for me the platonic form or perfection of spiritual books. If you find the power of now but don’t know your purpose what good does that serve? I have never valued enlightenment for enlightenment’s sake but rather value spiritual tools for their potential to increase effectiveness and accelerate service to the world. This book is the best of the genre and goes far beyond a career direction book. Sometimes purpose is found in the type of person you become or in the obstacles you overcome. Purpose can be found moment by moment. It may mean noticing what’s alive for you in this moment, or paying attention to your dreams.
Carol emphasizes that purpose is about trusting your experience and using what’s happening to you as clues to facets of your purpose. Her book offers solution to fear and self-doubt by using those somatic experiences to form a visual image that offer some guidance. A major theme is that life mission is constantly evolving and not something you figure out as much as unfold and discover. She is the co-author with James Redfield of The Celestine Prophesy: An Experiential Guide and The Tenth Insight: An Experiential Guide. Her book Find Your Purpose also reflects the role of finding synchronicity as a guide to the next step in your unfolding purpose.
Designing Your Own Destiny: The Power to Shape Your Future by Guy Finley
Guy Finley’s book Designing Your Own Destiny, combines mindfulness of the present moment to tap into the integrity of your own goals. We may set goals that we imagine will bring us pleasure but he guides the reader to see that if a goal fills you a gripping sorrow of doing whatever it takes, your goal may be, as he says “secretly punishing.”
He points to the idea that what we experience in this moment is the seeds of what we are creating in the next moment. I think the idea of exploring how and why we would create goals that are secretly punishing is a worthy effort and likely related the work in Carol Adrienne’s book. A lot of personal insight is necessary to figure out what’s coming from the heart of our mission vs. other goals that are rooted in having something to prove or distorted thoughts about what we are capable of.
Kabbalah and the Power of Dreaming
by Catherine Shainberg
Catherine Shainberg shares the humbling nature of dreams to catch you off guard, to expose your vulnerabilities and give us access to our intuition and inner voice. One powerful tool she recommends before going to bed is to replay a difficult relationship encounter from the perspective of the other person looking at you. These visualizations can give you access to dream like imagery. She shows how dreams train us to review our life with distance and detachment.
The essence of her book is in that dreams and visualizations have real impact and power in shaping our lives and the real world. Visualization and dreams are levers for transformation. She writes directly about the inestimable power of discovering your purpose in life and offers dozens of visualizations to help you accomplish those purposes. She writes that even with clarity of purpose we all face Gordian knots “no-win situations, deadlocks, or wastelands, moments of emptiness or maybe just mild unfocused expression”
by Henry Reed
Dream Medicine is a more practical book in which Henry Reed guides the reader to specific tools for answering life’s most pressing questions. This book highlights research on dreams by Edgar Cayce’s Association for Research and Enlightenment. This book recommends an age-old strategy of dream incubation which is a ritual where in ancient Greece people would go to dream temples and ask for dreams for medical cures. This book guides you through how to create a modern version of dream incubation to solve life’s problems and questions. In short, this book is a detailed guide on how to maximize the power of “sleeping on it” to get fresh answers and guidance on intractable problems.