Book Review: Your Truest Self – Embracing the Woman You Are Meant to Be
Your Truest Self: Embracing the Woman You Are Meant to Be, by Janice Lynne Lundy, is a lovely new women’s spirituality book highlighting twelve diverse contemporary women spiritual teachers and authors. Ms. Lundy is herself an Interfaith Spiritual Director and the longtime Lifestyle writer for Women’s Lifestyle magazine. She has authored three previous books, including Coming Home to Ourselves : A Woman’s Journey to Wholeness.
Your Truest Self is an interfaith book, focused on twelve principles, or ‘Transformational Truths’, of the spiritual growth process, not specific to any particular religious denomination. Each of the twelve principles is elucidated through the life story of one spiritual woman, and as a group they represent a variety of spiritual traditions. Some of the women are well-known, such as singer Naomi Judd, who in recent years has become a proponent of mind-body medicine, and Rev. Dr. Iyanla Vanzant, New Thought minister and author of five NY Times bestsellers. Others are less well-known (at least to me) such as Joyce Rupp, member of the Catholic order Servants of Mary, and Mari Gayatri Stein, author of The Buddha Smiles: A Collection of Dharmatoons.
Ms. Lundy interviews each of these twelve women, and every single one comes across as someone I’d love to have dinner with (and I’m not that social.) They are down to earth, wise, honest, and, in the hands of Ms. Lundy, very revealing about the joys and challenges of their own spiritual journeys. The intimate experiences they reveal are the best thing about the book, and the most useful, for those of us journeying ourselves. Rev. Vanzant talks about the crises of faith she experienced after the death of her 31-year old daughter, and Ms. Judd discusses her battle with hepatitis C. Many discuss the self-doubt, stress in personal relationships, and fears of social ostracization that they faced as they explored new spiritual paths and practices.
In each chapter, Ms. Lundy takes the major theme of each woman’s journey and discusses it in the context of her own spiritual growth. She then presents a set of reflection questions for the reader on that topic, and a ‘Peaceful Pause’ – a contemplation or meditation exercise corresponding to the chapter’s theme. I think most women will enjoy the combination of interviews, personal stories, and prescriptive guidance. The format creates a kind of spiritual ‘sampler plate’, providing just enough of a sense of each woman to help you decide whether you would like to read more by or about that individual.
One thing to be aware of, however, is that this book is not as linear as many spiritual ‘prescriptive’ titles out today. It does not present a step-by-step ‘self-help’ plan, although the themes are progressive from chapter to chapter. Featuring a different teacher in each chapter requires a shift in language and approach that prevents an overall philosophy from developing. Frankly, for me that is a plus, as too often today spirituality is presented like a workout plan or diet, with specific instructions and techniques that end up undermining the very personal and individual nature of the process.
So, if you love reading about other women, and If you think of your spirituality as exploratory rather than prescriptive, this book is for you. You can also read more about the author and the women featured in the book at http://www.awakenedliving.com/. .