I love to snuggle. Doug is my first snuggle choice, and then the pups, and then … a book. A juicy-happy-deep-informative-satisfying-funny-inspiring-sad-mindblowing book. My taste is eclectic, ranging from Under the Tuscan Sun to Killing Lincoln to A Man Called Ove to The DaVinci Code to Kitchen Confidential. And yoga books, lots and lots of yoga books! Actually, I look at reading as yoga for the soul. A way to decompress and enlighten and see new paths through life.
The book I am reading now is Rhythms of Renewal: Trading Stress and Anxiety for a Life of Peace and Purpose by Rebekah Lyons. Lyons isn’t a yogi, but oh, how her writing speaks to the yogi soul! For those of you who come to my classes, I guarantee you will be hearing some of Lyons’ word in the coming months. You know how much I like to read passages and quote my favorite authors!
Lyons’ book came out in 2019, but her words resonate deeply as we struggle through the 2020 Covid shit show. She says: “… as a society, we are in the throes of a collective panic attack. We nurse anxiety chasing careers, hunger for security, and strive to keep up. We’re afraid we’re not doing enough. We obsess over health, politics and a host of other things we can’t control. That’s when fatigue takes over. Fear arises. Despair prevails.”
Despair prevails. Chew on those words for a moment. I think we all have an intimate, dark knowledge of how despair feels. Thankfully, Lyons reassures us, God is “in the business of pushing back the darkness.” How? Well, you’ll have to read the book (or come to class) to find out!
I came to read Lyons’ book through a book club, and my appreciation for the book has deepened as a result of the conversations with the women in the club. Their insights have opened new doors for me, and some of the passages I skimmed over were words that brought others to a deeper place of contemplation. Just as we are all in the same Covid storm but are paddling in different boats, so we can read the same book but close its cover having had different experiences. Yet in coming together to discuss it, we share thoughts, emotions, expectations and revelations … we connect.
Connecting with each other is so hard during Covid, and all of us at Soul Stretch have observed students struggle with loneliness or a lack of intimacy with people. We have struggled with it ourselves. We have had times when despair prevailed. What to do, what to do?
Book clubs do all sorts of good stuff for us. They encourage critical thinking. They broaden our horizons. They help us accept and engage and release. And they foster community. They give us a reason to come together and discuss narratives that matter to us.
And so, lovelies, consider this your invitation to join the Soul Stretch Book Club. A group of yoga-inspired people who want to gather once a month and discuss a book that provokes us, awakens us, maybe bores us, but certainly offers us topics of lively and distinctive conversation.
Here’s the plan. Soul Stretch Book Club is free and open to all. We will read the same book, broken into three sections, and discuss one section each month via Zoom. The Zoom groups will be 20 or so people, and the discussion will be led by Soul Stretch yogis. It’s going to be amazing, lovelies, and it will help us move through the coming winter with less despair and more namaste.
Oh. The book. Think Like a Monk: Train Your Mind for Peace and Purpose Everyday by Jay Shetty. Readers describe the book as a path to greater joy and purpose, filled with less anxiety and more purpose. And that’s all I’m going to tell you, because I will be reading it right along with all of you, and I want us each to find our own truth in the book, and take away the peace we each crave. I pray our Soul Stretch Book Club community will renew us and instill us with purpose and passion and connection.