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Five Books To Read or Revisit Right Now

March 23, 2020

For many years, Esalen faculty Michael Sapiro, who leads the week-long workshop Stillness and Spirit: Playing in the Fields of Awareness, Sound and Movement September 27–October 2 at Esalen, has been instrumental in assisting others with reducing the “noise, distraction and disconnection” experienced in our modern era. By reminding us to rest in a spacious stillness where we simply are present, Michael, who is a clinical psychologist and meditation teacher, reminds us that dwelling in a place of pure awareness is a treasured gift.

With COVID-19 impacting us globally, that kind of gift can be a powerful tool as we find ourselves sequestered at home. One way to remain fully aware and “be in the moment,” is to read, Michael says. In fact, now more than ever, is the perfect time to catch up on our old favorites or dive into a brand new read. We turned to Michael, who shares five stellar book recommendations with Esalen:

Welcoming the Unwelcome by Pema Chodron

During these very unsettling times, Pema helps us find inner peace and freedom that comes with true acceptance of what is. Michael says Pema "directs us back to the awakened heart that can hold all sorrows, fears and pains while still radiating love in all directions."

The Wise Heart by Jack Kornfield

"This is such a loving and compassionate book for those of us seeking insight into and healing from our psychological wounds," Michael says. "I ask all my patients to read this as a supplement to therapy."

The Snow Leopard by Peter Matthiessen

This is a "beautiful" account of Peter's journey into grief, sadness and ultimate peace while searching for the elusive Himalayan snow leopard.

The Monkey and the Monk edited by Anthony C. Yu

An exciting and provocative folk tale from China, the book centers around the myth and allegorical pilgrimage of Sun Wukong the Monkey King and Tripitaka, the monk he is serving on their journey to meet the Buddha.

The Unfolding Self by Ralph Metzner

"As a teacher of the transformative experience, I deeply appreciate the map Ralph’s books lay out for awakening our own inner potential and transformation," Michael says. "Ralph offers an integrated exploration of the many different spiritual and psychological paths we can take to transform ourselves and the world around us."

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