Favorite Things

Favorite Books

Books to Read With Your Kids


The Carrot Seed 60th Anniversary Edition, by Ruth Krause.

I discovered this story when my oldest child was 3 years old and am reading it now with my youngest. I love its message of perseverance. That little boy knows a carrot will come up. So he just keeps doing his thing – no matter what anyone else has to say about it. “Until one day, a carrot came up. Just as the boy had known it would.”

 

Moody Cow Meditates, by Kerry Lee MacLean.

Moody Cow is having a bad day that just keeps getting worse and worse – until his grandfather comes over for a visit and shows him how watching his breath can help quiet his thoughts and settle his feelings.

 

The Gift of Nothing (Special Edition), by Patrick McDonnell.

This book is a welcome respite from the materialism that so often surrounds us. What do you get someone who has everything? A big box of nothing. Nothing, except peace and companionship and friendship.

 

Mindful Monkey, Happy Panda, by Lauren Alderfer.

I often recommend this book to adults who are looking for the simplest way possible to describe mindfulness to their kids. The difference between Monkey’s busy mind and Happy Panda’s is that when Panda plays, he is just playing. And when Panda eats, he is just eating. It doesn’t get any more simple than that.

 

Starbright–Meditations for Children, by Maureen Garth.

These wonderful, short, guided meditations are sure to help you help your child fall asleep, relax and connect to the quiet creativity in themselves.

 

Books for Older Kids

Jonathan Livingston Seagull, by Richard Bach.

This was one of my favorite books in high school. It may have been my first introduction to the idea that we are limited only to the extent we believe in our own limitations.

 

 

Siddhartha, by Hermann Hesse.

Modeled on the story of the Buddha, this tale of a young man’s spiritual journey teaches that true enlightenment comes not from following others, but only from the direct experience of our own spiritual path.

 

Sacred Hoops: Spiritual Lessons of a Hardwood Warrior, by Phil Jackson.

Young athletes will love reading this book by one of basketball’s greatest coaches in which he entertainingly describes using mindfulness to help his players keep their heads in the game and practice aggressive play without anger or violence. There are great lessons here for all of us, both on and off the basketball court. As Phil Jackson writes, “Not only is there more to life than basketball, there’s a lot more to basketball than basketball.”

 


The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Another one of my favorite stories. Children of all ages enjoy reading the Little Prince’s stories of his adventures among the stars. Read this together with A Guide for Grown-ups: Essential Wisdom from the Collected Works of Antoine de Saint-Exupry to discover even more meaning in this classic fable.

Books For Adults

(Please don’t forget to check out my audio-book recommendations as well. Some of my favorite books are even better when spoken and I have listed those separately to encourage you to consider those versions instead.)

Planting Seeds: Practicing Mindfulness with Children, by Thich Nhat Hanh.

This user’s guide to practicing mindfulness with children shares insights and activities that Thich Nhat Hanh developed through years of communal living with the children of Plum Village. The ideas presented in this book are applicable at home, at school, wherever adults interact with kids.

 

One-Minute Mindfulness: 50 Simple Ways to Find Peace, Clarity, and New Possibilities in a Stressed-Out World, by Daniel Altman.

I practice at least some of Altman’s suggestions every day. It’s amazing to discover how much your day can change in just 60 seconds.

 

 

Everyday Blessings: The Inner Work of Mindful Parenting, Jon Kabat-Zinn and Myla Kabat-Zinn.

This book by, one of the leading experts in mindfulness in collaboration with his wife, applies mindfulness to the art of parenting, reminding us of the deep bonds that are forged when we stay fully present with our children and practice unconditional love and acceptance.

 

 

Happiness Is an Inside Job: Practicing for a Joyful Life, by Sylvia Boorstein.

With tremendous compassion, wisdom and wit, in this book Buddhist teacher, Sylvia Boorstein, presents one of the most compelling arguments I have seen for the joy that arises when we use mindfulness practices and metta (loving-kindness) meditation to deepen our connection to the present moment and the people around us.

 

Favorite Music and Audio-Books

Favorite Books You Should Experience as Audio-Books

 

The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment, by Eckhart Tolle.

Run don’t walk if you haven’t yet heard of Eckhart Tolle. This book, and Tolle’s other works, including, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose (Oprah’s Book Club, Selection 61), present a coherent post-Buddhist philosophy where living in the “now” is recognized as the path to the end of our suffering. This book works, but don’t take my word for it. Definitely try it out for yourself.

 

When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times (Shambhala Library), by Pema Chodron.

The wisdom of this book is in its teachings that the way to overcome our suffering is to lean into it – with compassion and curiosity. This may sound counter-intuitive, but Pema Chodron’s lessons about how to navigate the uncertainty of life has changed my life. Be sure to listen to this as an audioCD. Chodron’s sweet voice and gentle humor are absolutely charming and not to be missed.

 

The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work, Shawn Achor.

My husband recommended this audio-book to me after seeing Shawn Achor at a client conference and I’ve been passing on the good news ever since. Although Shawn’s work is based in the world of business, I love this book for its clear presentation of practices for a happier life with the scientific evidence to back it up.

Favorite Music

 

The Essence, Deva Premal

These gentle, ethereal chants are my go to music when I just want to relax.

 

 

Pilgrim Heart, Krishna Das

Krishna Das is a kirtan “rock star” who has brought spiritual music out of the ashram and into concert halls around the wall.

 

 

Sing-A-Longs & Lullabies for the Film Curious George, Jack Johnson.

I was originally drawn to Jack Johnson’s heart-warming lyrics on the song Upside Down – “I’ll share this love I’ve found with everyone. We’ll sign and dance to Mother Nature’s song. I don’t want this feeling to go away,” but stayed because of all the other great tunes. This album pleases all the adults and children in my family.

 

Free to Be You & Me, Marlo Thomas.

I know it’s been around for a while, but there’s a reason for that. The messages of friendship, equality and self-confidence in this recording never go out of style.

 

Tea for the Tillerman, Cat Stevens (I’ve never gotten used to the whole Yusuf thing)

Another oldie but goodie. I’ve been listening to this album since I was in high school and I still love it. And I think his song “Where do the children play?” remains a powerful reminder of the impact of our changing world on our kids.

 

Favorite Other Stuff

Buckwheat Zafu and Zabuton Meditation Cushion Set (2pc), Black.

I am a huge fan of using both a Zafu (round cushion) and Zabuton (soft rectangular base cushion) for meditation practice. It took me almost ten years to be presuaded to invest in a Zabuton and I can’t believe how much more comfortable it has made my sitting. Don’t wast any time. It is well worth the investment.

 

Nag Champa Incense Sticks 100 gms.

Incense can be a very personal preference, but I wanted to share these Nag Champa sticks, which are my favorite choice. One word of advice – because our sense of smell is so deeply linked to memory, consistent use of the same scents over a period of time can really help deepen your meditation practice.

 

Wooden Coffin Incense Burner – Buddha 12″ – Brass Inlays & Storage Compartment.

I like this simple incense burner (ignore the name) because it is well priced and does a great job keeping the ashes from making a mess.

Meditation Timer – Sycamore.

This simple meditation timer starts and ends your practice with a gentle gong. I like the simplicity of the timer’s pre-set options, although it may not be for you if you are looking for the ability to set a timer for random lengths of time, e.g. 18 minutes.