The beginning of a year is one of my favorite times to reflect, set new goals, and cultivate personal growth. One simple but impactful way I do this is by reading self-development books. As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, "Some books leave us free, and some books make us free." I believe that books can help us break free from limiting beliefs and broaden our view of the world. In fact, I often tell my son that there is a book for everything. When we sit with a book and immerse ourselves in it, the book can reveal itself to us. Taking time to reflect on what we read is equally important to understanding the wisdom it wants to share with us.
Taking the time to read and reflect can, in turn, help us become wiser and find greater freedom and fulfillment in our lives. As a lover of books and essential oils, I have found that pairing reading with the scent of soothing and grounding essential oils deepens my joy of reading. In this blog, I would like to share with you five books that can help you on your journey of self-improvement, as well as five essential oils with serene scents to pair with your reading activity for an even more enriching experience. So grab your favorite aromatherapy oil, find a comfortable, quiet spot, and let's explore the five books that can help you grow this year.
1."New Earth" by Eckhart Tolle - Eckhart Tolle's book "The New Earth" is one of my favorite self-improvement books. It is a good guide that can help you be more present and live a happier and more fulfilling life. It encourages you to let go of fear and ego and to find peace and purpose through being present. It has helped me learn to fully embrace each moment as it comes, good or bad. It is a transformative book that can help you evolve, and as you grow, so does the world around you. According to Eckhart Tolle, "Anyone who is one with what he or she does is building a new earth." I agree with Tolle. Simply imagine how the earth would be if each person were intentional and fully present in all their interactions with others. People would experience life as more joyful and meaningful. This message of hope and possibility is at the heart of "The New Earth" and makes it a must-read for you if you are seeking to create positive change in your life and in the world.
2."Looking at Mindfulness: 25 Ways to Live in the Moment Through Art" by Christophe André I discovered Christophe André's books a few years ago and I became a huge fan of his writings as it gives a map on how to become serene and mindful. I equally love all his books but I’m mentioning “Looking at Mindfulness” as it gives a unique perspective on using art to practice mindfulness. In this book, André, a renowned psychiatrist, and meditation practitioner uses classic paintings by some of the greatest masters, including Rembrandt Van Rijn, Edward Hopper, and René Magritte to encourage you to contemplate the inner meaning of the small details of their art and to connect what you see with what you feel. In fact, André's book goes beyond just art - he invites you to consider how your surroundings, daily interactions, and obligations can affect your inner well-being and mental clarity. As André writes, "Mindfulness...means stopping to make contact with the ever-shifting experience that we are having at the time, and to observe the nature of our relationship to that experience, the nature of our presence at that moment." This book is a great guide to finding greater peace and understanding through mindfulness and art.
3."Living from a Place of Surrender" by Michael K. Singer - I read three of Singer’s books and ``Living from a Place of Surrender” is definitely one of my favorites. It has expanded my toolbox and made me better equipped when feeling overwhelmed and also better at neutralizing my “inner chatter.” I am in fact so enthusiastic when talking about Singer’s book that I often have to reassure folks that I have no association with this author when I encourage them to buy it. It is just a book that I connected with deeply and that I found to be life-changing. If you are on a journey towards finding inner peace, this book may provide you additional tools to ease your path; as it teaches you that by letting go of the constant chatter of your mind, and surrendering to the present moment, you can overcome obstacles and find joy and fulfillment in your life.
4." A Guide to the Good Life" by William B. Irvine - I started learning more about stoicism when the Covid-19 pandemic started in 2020 and Irvine’s book was the perfect book I needed at that moment. It opened the door for me to a new way to be as it provides a practical map of how to live a good life. Indeed, it delves into the teachings of the Stoic philosophers, such as Epictetus, Lucius Annaeus Seneca, Gaius Musonius Rufus, and Marcus Aurelius, and shows how the four stoic virtues such as wisdom, courage, justice, and temperance, can be applied to modern life. He also dispels the myth that Stoics were emotionless. Indeed, the stoic philosophers believed in experiencing positive emotions and enjoying the pleasures of life. But, they also saw equally the importance of controlling and minimizing negative emotions such as anger and envy, which can cause havoc in your inner world. This book is a breeze to read and, if you are curious about Stoicism and/or just starting this journey, “A Guide to the Good Life” should be your first stop to get practical advice and first taste on how to live a more fulfilling and tranquil life as a modern Stoic.
5.“Lighter” by Yung Pueblo - This last book is a recent discovery. I became curious about this author after one of my cousins explained how his writings resonated with him and deepened his journey of self-discovery. "Lighter,” is the most recent book published by Pueblo (October 2022). This book offers a wise guide to self-discovery and transformation. In it, Pueblo shares his personal struggles and experiences and gives you a roadmap for navigating the challenges of personal growth and emotional healing. In the second chapter of his book “Lighter,” Emotional History and Finding my Pattern, Pueblo writes“ Healing is processing and unloading all the programming from the past that hinders our ability to live freely in the present.” In his book, you will also learn about the importance of self-love, healthy relationships, and emotional maturity, as well as the connection between the individual and collective transformation. "Lighter" is a thought-provoking book that can help you in your journey of a deeper understanding of yourself and the world around you.
In addition to the above 5 self-development books, incorporating essential oils into your reading routine can also elevate your experience. Here are 5 of my favorite grounding essential oils to diffuse to your space while reading.
1. Ylang-ylang essential oil (Cananga odorata) - Ylang-ylang is one of my favorite serene scents. It is an exotic and intensely sweet, floral, and deeply relaxing essential oil aroma that makes it a great choice for enhancing your reading experience.
2. Clary Sage essential oil (Salvia sclarea) - Clary Sage scent is multi-layered when compared to ylang-ylang. Its aroma can be described as musky, earthy, warm herbaceous, floral, and slightly fruity. This scented oil is often experienced as spiritually calming and can bring your mind to the present, making it perfect for creating a peaceful atmosphere while reading.
3. Cedarwood essential oil (Cedrus atlantica) - Cedarwood is another great option. It has a woodsy and sweet scent with an undertone of citrus that makes you feel grounded. I also like blending it with sweet orange essential oil as its aroma works synergistically well and creates a heavenly, pleasing, and sweet scent that is quite relaxing, which may help bring a sense of stability and focus to your reading routine.
4. Frankincense essential oil (Frankincense carterii) - Frankincense is another one of my favorite scents as I found it incredibly grounding. It may be because its aroma evokes in me the deep feeling of stillness you get when entering a holy or zen space. Indeed, Frankincense has been used as a spiritual scent for thousands of years. Its aroma is earthy, balsamic, and herbaceous, with musty pine notes along with citrus notes and it has a spicy undertone. It is the perfect aroma to diffuse in your space to help you relax and focus while reading.
5. Coin Tranquille essential oil blend (Lavandula angustifolia, Cananga odorata, Salvia sclarea) - Lastly Coin Tranquille (Tranquil Zone) scented oil which is a 100% natural essential oil blend we created at Maréfleur with the intention to spiritually help you be still and savor the present. In this blend, we have mixed Ylang-Ylang’s sweet and relaxing aroma with Clary Sage’s green, earthy and fruity scent and complemented this blend with the calming floral scent of Lavender. This fusion gives a deeply serene scent that evokes the smell of a silent sanctuary. It is the perfect aromatherapy blend for creating a peaceful and deeply relaxing atmosphere while reading.
In conclusion, in your journey to improve yourself this year, reading self-development books should be a priority to support your personal growth and make positive changes in your life. And when paired with the calming and grounding oil scents we described, reading can become an even more enriching and enjoyable experience. As author and motivational speaker Jim Rohn said, “The difference between where you are today and where you’ll be five years from now will be found in the quality of books you’ve read.”At Maréfleur by Essence & Sérénité, our mission is to provide aromatic experiences that support your self-growth journey. With that in mind, we hope our list of five self-development books for 2023, along with our essential oil recommendations, inspires you to start your aromatic reading journey toward self-improvement.
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Posted on January 9, 2023, at Serene Lifestyle by Katy Maréfleur, co-founder of Maréfleur by Essence & Sérénité