Help me find a guide for my spiritual path
June 14, 2007 3:28 PM   Subscribe

I had planned to embark on a period of introspection following a bad relationship and other life changes but I've been lazy about it. Are there any books that offer a sort of step-by-step course for something that really shouldn't be a step-by-step course?

I'm not very disciplined with much of anything so I'm looking for something like a daily planner/workbook that might say: "Day 1: Wake up, pray/meditate for 10 minutes; journal for 10 minutes, read these words of inspiration," etc. I would prefer that it not have a Christian bent ... perhaps more of a humanist/UU/Buddhist type thing.

I recognize that embarking on a spiritual path is not supposed to be easy...I'd just like it to be more...methodical to fit the lifestyle of a busy person who doesn't have the luxury of spending days, or even months, at a retreat (though I do have plans to do a weekend somewhere at the end of the summer).

A bit more info: I was raised Christian but my faith in God has waned a bit...and I realize that many people of great faith have had their time in the wilderness. I'd like to get back to at least feeling some connection to spirit again .
I hope my rant makes some sense.

I'm already familiar with the blogs...I need a hardcover, keep-by-my-nightstand book.

posted by anonymous to Religion & Philosophy (15 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
This may sound weird, but spiritual life is what 12-step programs are all about (other than, um, not killing yourself with X, Y or Z). Daily meditation, readings, prayers, and regular meetings where you talk about it all and drink too much weak coffee. And they are demi- semi- sorta Christian. Very helpful. They've got programs for everything.
posted by MarshallPoe at 3:46 PM on June 14, 2007

What about One Day My Soul Just Opened Up: 40 Days and 40 Nights Toward Spiritual Strength and Personal Growth? I've never tried it but have heard it recommended and it does have the format you want.
posted by salvia at 3:56 PM on June 14, 2007

How about The Artist's Way? Sure, it has the word "Artist" in there, but Cameron often states that doing things like morning pages and artist's dates often help the user break free in their personal life.

(Caveat: I've never completed the program. I don't have the discipline to do it. :( )
posted by princesspathos at 4:31 PM on June 14, 2007

For a certain type of person, Marcus Aurelius, Meditations. Roman Emperor and stoic. For a person who believes in a creator broadly defined, but doubts that the individual lives after death. How should we live? In brief, that's what this short book is about. The book doesn't build an argument, so you can sample at random.
posted by ferdydurke at 4:46 PM on June 14, 2007

Secondong Salvia: Iyanla Vanzant's book are great. Her other one that I really love is called Faith in the Valley. It really helped me through some tough times and I always recomend it to anyone going through a rough patch or a new beginning.
posted by MayNicholas at 4:51 PM on June 14, 2007

I second the recommendation for Aurelius. You can find translations online if you want to sample, but his stuff is best savored slowly, in relative quietude.

The weekend retreats you mentioned have me regretting (again) that I never took advantage of the Trappist monastery where I used to live. They offered frequent retreats, and though they were of a decidedly Christian bent, all were welcome to stay for meditative periods of silence, study and reading.

Retreatants were also invited (but not required) to join the monks in the daily Office, the series of prayers recited daily, beginning at 4 (!) AM.

But really, a four-day weekend of silence would have been enough for me.
posted by jquinby at 4:59 PM on June 14, 2007

I love the book Going to Pieces Without Falling Apart, A Buddhist Perspective on Wholeness. Also a fan of After The Ecstacy, The Laundry.

I also second The Artist's Way.

Good luck.
posted by TryTheTilapia at 5:22 PM on June 14, 2007

I am not fan of this organization, but I am a fan of this practice and the idea behind the practice. It is also easy to do during your regular life.

The Book
posted by milarepa at 5:57 PM on June 14, 2007

Sorry, I didn't see your "hardcover, keep-by-my-nightstand book" requirement.
posted by milarepa at 6:00 PM on June 14, 2007

You know, I got to thinking about your question after I posted and I just wanted to say that you will more than likely find a discipline that will work for you, one that isn't proscribed by a book, after you've given over to the inherent uncertainty in this sort of quest for wholeness. I know that sounds all hippy-dippy-love-'n-peace-man, but really I think what you're looking for is a concrete entree into the ephemeral. That's helpful for starters but in the long run I don't think you will need that sort of structure. I would say allow yourself fifteen minutes in the morning for this sort of practice, to begin with; after that you may find that active structure isn't as necessary. You might also try meditation, yoga or (my favorite...just sayin') running in conjunction with your reading helpful. Just a thought.

And I've also found writing letters on my computer to whomever and then deleting them - a sort of metaphorical "burning", if you will - is helpful. YMMV, of course.

As before, good luck.
posted by TryTheTilapia at 6:32 PM on June 14, 2007

have you looked into yoga? the sivananda companion to yoga describes a daily routine of yoga, meditation and breathing exercises, plus also including information about yogic philosophy and other related suggestions such as ethics and diet. it's somewhat intense but takes less than an hour total daily, and was designed to combine fairly rigorous yoga practices with beginner-level non-yogis.
posted by lgyre at 7:41 PM on June 14, 2007

How can I send myself into a nice spiral of depression? Let's think .... how about having a messy relationship, have that break down, and then go in for introspection in a big way. That should do it nicely, particularly if I am careful to take up one of the "paths" that claim that ordinary people are inherently bad and that I must suffer to climb to the first of many higher levels. A religious childhood that taught about sin would also help.

Or you could try instead building a "connection to spirit" through working alongside some good people in service to others. Scouts/old people/teaching English to immigrants -- there are lots of uses of your time where you can reinforce a sense of what matters and how to live a good life.
posted by Idcoytco at 8:42 AM on June 15, 2007 [1 favorite]

Oh, it's less of a workbook, but the book When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron is one of my top ten books.

Also, less spiritual workbooks include the Feeling Good Handbook (I think they have a workbook) and other workbooks in the self-help section. (I've never tried those either, but Mefi people recommend them a lot.)
posted by salvia at 2:05 PM on June 16, 2007

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