Woman reading on hammock
Photo: Katya Austin/ Unsplash

A Few Favourites

What I’m Reading

For some time now I have been fascinated by the influences, both internal and external, that impact our behaviour and choices, particularly those that seem to be at odds with our conscious and reasoned intentions. This led me to ponder the mind-body connection, the intriguing world of gut health and the microbiome, as well as a consideration of trauma and its implications. 

The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel van der Kolk

This book was recommended to me as part of the Family Systems Constellations therapy course I am training in. It is foundational in its consideration of trauma and explores the ways in which trauma is stored in our bodies and shapes how we relate to ourselves, others and the world. 

While Dr Van der Kolk began his work with war veterans suffering from PTSD, the book illustrates how trauma is not only relevant to those who have had extreme experiences (such as war, genocide and so on) but also to everyday realities in family homes, such as childhood experiences of not being seen, heard or comforted, when it was needed. These traumatic imprints are stored in our bodies and subconscious and can impact our behaviour in ways that seem to be beyond our understanding and control. Reading this book helped give me perspective on my own experiences and patterns, as well as to view them with greater understanding and compassion.

Dr Van der Kolk brings alive the mind-body connection in this compelling, comprehensive examination of the causes and impacts of trauma. The book also explores ways of healing trauma through a holistic lens, including somatic work (such as yoga, dancing and martial art forms), meditation, and effective therapeutic modalities.      

Gut: The Inside Story of Our Body’s Most Under-Rated Organ by Giulia Enders 

The mind-body connection is also explored in Giulia Enders’ informative and captivating book on the workings of the gut, as it introduces the gut-brain axis and explains how the gut has an impact on our mood, sense of well-being and long-term health. It is intriguing to consider that perhaps the reason one is irritable, stressed or provoked has less to do with one’s immediate environmental triggers and perhaps more to do with how your body is processing last night’s dinner!

Giulia Enders’ exploration of the complex inner workings of our digestive system is not only approachable but humorous, which is enhanced by the endearing accompanying illustrations. My favourite section of the book is on the world of microbes that exists within us, which explores how each one of us is a vibrant dynamic community of organisms, rather than a single entity, and the ways we impact and are impacted by our microbiome. The microbiome is so fascinating to me that it inspired me to start my own Kombucha brewing company @livingfortress.

What I’m Viewing

Marco Polo (TV Series 2014–2016)

Marco Polo is a drama TV series on Netflix which depicts the adventures of the Italian merchant Marco Polo in the court of Kublai Khan, the grandson of Genghis Khan. This piece of fiction draws the audience into the Mongolian historical context with its exquisite costumes, stunning sets, and excellent cinematography, as well as its character and plot development. Though Marco Polo is the protagonist, the show explores multiple characters and their storylines, interwoven masterfully through political intrigue, warfare and contrasting loyalties, within the larger plot.  

While the historical authenticity of Marco Polo has been called into question by some, it offers an intriguing glimpse into the historical and cultural context of the Mongolian Empire. I found it to be an enthralling watch, with an interesting exploration of power dynamics and the complexities of human relationships, and beautiful displays of martial art fighting sequences. The series left me wanting to know more about the largest contiguous empire the world has ever seen.

What I’m Listening To

Nick Mulvey’s Wake Up Now

Singer-songwriter Nick Mulvey’s second album Wake Up Now has a diverse array of songs: melodious, uplifting, and lyrically rich.

I discovered Nick Mulvey during the second lockdown, when his soul-stirring and expansive   music transported me beyond what began to feel like the confining walls of my home. His songs continue to be evocative and heartening, every time I listen to them.  

A talented guitarist, vocalist and lyricist, Nick Mulvey combines an eclectic mix of influences with upbeat percussion to create harmonious songs imbued with spirit. Unconditional, Mountain to Move, Remembering and In Your Hands are some of my favourites on the album.    

More recommendations from our team

Karuna Jenkins

Karuna Jenkins is a holistic educator and trustee of the educational off-grid community Sholai School, 18 kms from Kodaikanal, where she spent her formative years. She divides her time between Bangalore and Yahnai Kaduh, a growing ecospace close to Ganeshnagar, near Kodai.

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