Blog | Zuza Engler | Moving with Life Inspiring, Illuminating, Insightful: Books That Influenced Me

Inspiring, Illuminating, Insightful: Books That Influenced Me

I am periodically asked what I would recommend to read about the work I do – i.e. about embodied living, emotional healing, movement, or spirituality. If you are interested, scroll for a link to a (very partial) book list.

I have read all these books and more, many of them more than once… but most of my learning has come from oral transmission from my teachers and personal experience in living the practices.

These writings all lead along the winding path of a kind of gritty spirituality that requires living with both feet on the ground and facing the mess of human existence without losing sight of the big Life we belong to.

They engage the human dilemma through embodied inquiry, listening to the language of sensation, feeling, emotion, and nature. The psychological approaches are simultaneously grounded in the body and held in the vast space of Mystery.

All these in some way point to wholeness, immanence (excuse the big word but very useful in this context, loosely applied, as in, “the sacred within the mundane” – not outside of it or after we get rid of the mundane), openness to life in all its complexity, supporting life unfolding by our willing participation, along the lines of Rilke who says, “Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror. No feeling is final. Just keep going.”

Here comes your recommended reading list:

Janet Adler, Offering from the Conscious Body
Anna Halprin, Dance as a Healing Art; Moving Toward Life: Three Decades of Transformational Dance; Making Dances that Matter
Daria Halprin, The Expressive Body
Karmae Miller (editor) Wisdom Comes Dancing: Selected Writings of Ruth St. Denis on Dance, Spirituality, and the Body
Andrea Olsen, The Place of Dance
Gabrielle Roth, Sweat Your Prayers: Movement as Spiritual Practice
Wendy Palmer, The Intuitive Body; The Practice of Freedom
Alexander Lowen, The Betrayal of the Body; The Spirituality of the Body
James Kepner, Body Process
Claudio Naranjo, Gestalt Therapy
Pat Ogden, Sensorimotor Psychotherapy
Resmaa Menakem, My Grandmother's Hands
Richard Strozzi Heckler, The Anatomy of Change
John Heider, The Tao of Leadership
Pema Chödrön, The Wisdom of No Escape; Start Where You Are; When Things Fall Apart – plus, anything else you can get your hands on, especially live recordings of her teachings
Ajahn Chah, A Still Forest Pool
Reginald Ray, Touching Enlightenment
Chögyam Trungpa, The Myth of Freedom; Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism
Stephen Levine, Who Dies? Healing into Life and Death; Embracing the Beloved (with Ondrea Levine)
Sogyal Rinpoche, The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying [a valuable book translating difficult & important teachings for the Western audience by a sadly discredited teacher]
Shunryu Suzuki Roshi, Zen-Mind, Beginners Mind
John Tarrant, The Light Inside the Dark
John Welwood, Ordinary Magic: Everyday Life as Spiritual Path; Journey of the Heart; Love and Awakening; Perfect Love–Imperfect Relationships

PS. Despite years of feminist reading, I see that so many of these authors are (white) men. Yikes. I read much less now and if I do it’s mostly novels. I so love me a good novel. Those are often by women, people of color and of other cultures. A certain kind of unlearning.