Books targeted at improving people’s lives have always been popular purchases for individuals from all walks of life. In fact, there is an array of self-help books out there, with topics ranging from money management to time management or something in between. When it comes to spiritual books, however, it’s a different story: people are either eager to get their hands on them or they are totally turned off by the idea because they don’t think of themselves as spiritual.
A common misconception is that you have to be religious to be spiritual, but that’s not the case. Not to mention, it’s not a requirement to be a crystal healer or tarot reader to be a more mindful, spiritually-inclined individual. In particular, college students live a very fast-paced lifestyle, and like all millennials, they’re always consuming some form of social media or technology. Because it’s the norm, this behavior is often overlooked, but it’s very damaging. That said, these spiritual books touch on topics that will benefit the well-being and mind of your average college student today.
1. “The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment” by Eckhart Tolle
If you’re often distracted and stressed, read this book to learn about the liberation of living in the present moment. Though it has become a cliché to say “live in the moment,” how many of people are truly doing it? More often than not, you’re probably thinking about the past or future rather than indulging yourself in the present. You might replay old scenarios in your mind and overthink what you cannot change. You may also create stress and anxiety by worrying about the future and what’s to come.
Tolle writes about the freedom you can achieve by not thinking. Are you strong enough to completely stop thinking when you please, or does your mind rule you? Though you may not realize it, you have access to happiness if you choose to use your mind to your benefit.
The book also incorporates Buddhist philosophies to tie-in with the lessons of mindfulness, which allows readers to use the ideas in a way that they can understand. Tolle also uses “break times” in his text for the reader to close the book and think critically about what they just read, which adds even more to the comprehensive quality of the text. Overall, if you are someone who desires to slow down and indulge in each moment, this work is for you.
2. “No Mud, No Lotus: The Art of Transforming Suffering” by Thich Nhat Hanh
Vietnamese Buddhist monk, peace activist and writer, Thich Nhat Hanh, teaches his readers the secret to shifting their perceptions of suffering and pain by acknowledgment rather than by rejection.
A lot of people like to run away from their problems, which is ironic because all that does is create more issues in the long run. Initially, it may be difficult, but Hanh tells his readers to simply acknowledge the fact that they’re suffering. If they do, they’ll eventually heal. Readers will learn to admit they’re hurt and realize that it doesn’t make them weak or inferior.
College students, who are arguably some of the most stressed individuals, are just trying to figure out their paths in life, which can bring forth a number of different hardships. Whether you’re feeling depressed, getting homesick or dealing with a breakup or drama, the journey to healing ultimately requires feeling.
The moral of the work is simple: don’t shut yourself out. Instead, express gratitude for the necessity of suffering because without it, happiness would not exist.
Additionally, Hanh uses the lotus flower as a metaphor, hence the title. Lotus flowers miraculously bloom through the mud, which is a metaphor for the ability of humans to overcome hard times. If you ever find yourself in a tough spot emotionally, don’t hesitate to check out this book.
3. “The Miracle of Mindfulness” by Thich Nhat Hanh
Though this book was initially written in Vietnamese, it has been translated to English for multiple audiences to enjoy. “The Miracle of Mindfulness” is essentially a guide to meditation and how to be self-aware.
I’m almost positive that you don’t walk from class to class and think to yourself, “Wow, I am walking. I can feel the moment when my heel comes off the Earth. Left, right, left right.” Well, this book encourages you do exactly that. Even though its often taken for granted, it really is amazing that everyone is present and has the ability to live, breathe and function; it just takes a little more appreciation to notice this miracle.
When reading this book, people get an insight on meditation and an increase in their awareness of reality. Instead of running on autopilot like most individuals do, Hanh’s readers will find themselves reflecting more on the beauty of their own functionality.
4. “How to Love” by Thich Nhat Hanh
I promise this is the last book on this list by Thich Nhat Hanh. His ideas are so simple, yet profound. Or maybe the rest of society just has their eyes and minds closed.
“How to Love” is all about loving yourself in order to cultivate more love to express toward others. This is referring to not only romantic love but to all kinds, including simple compassion for people around you. This practice is critical, especially in the direction that society is headed, because everyone is turning into robots that don’t show enough empathy.
Human connection is what everyone thrives on, but it depends on openness. Unfortunately, however, vulnerability is difficult to find, and an increasing number of people are starting to build walls around themselves.
When it comes to college students, relationships and friendships can sometimes be superficial. “How to Love” teaches readers to be open, vulnerable and loving to themselves and to everyone else.
5. “The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself” by Michael A. Singer
It’s easy to point fingers at your peers, but how often do you look within yourself? To address this inquiry, spiritual teacher Michael Singer writes on the topic of introspection and the relationship you have with yourself.
People tend to blame everything and everyone else for all the wrong in their lives when they should actually look inward. In fact, you may realize that you’ve gotten into a bad habit of placing limiting beliefs on yourself. People do this so often that it becomes subconscious, but, fortunately, everyone has the ability to shift these old habits. Although this book can be life-changing, you must go into it with an open mind to get the most out of it.
6. “The Universe Has Your Back: Transform Fear to Faith” by Gabrielle Bernstein
If you find yourself asking, “Why does this have to happen to me?” then this book is for you. The title says it all. People tend to think the world is against them, and it’s easy to fall into that negativity when things don’t go their way.
However, Bernstein instills the idea that things happen for you rather than to you. This spiritual read shines a light on the movement that claims the universe is actually guiding you toward where you need to be, and everything happens for your highest good, in the end.
Next time you head to your local bookstore or, let’s be real, shop on Amazon, check out one of these reads to enlighten yourself. Have fun living your best life!