11/09/2011 09:17 am ET | Updated Jan 09, 2012

10 Meditations From My Daybook

The selections for the next 10 days are from my spiritual daybook, "The Book of Awakening." They, along with their guided meditations, are invitations to personalize the common and unrepeatable journey we all encounter in being human. Essentially, the book speaks about spirit and friendship, about our ongoing need to stay vital and in love with this life, no matter the hardships we encounter. From many traditions, from many experiences, from many beautiful and honest voices, the songs herein all sing of pain and wonder and the mystery of love.

I was drawn to this form because as a poet, I was longing for a manner of expression that could be as useful as a spoon, and as a cancer survivor, daybooks have become inner food. In truth, over the last 35 years, the daybook has been answering a collective need and has become a spiritual sonnet of our age, a sturdy container for small doses of what matters.

Coming upon the possibility of writing this book 14 years ago was such a gift for me. Freshly on the other side of cancer, I was gentle and raw and eager to bottle light for those suffering in darkness the way I had been. It took two years to discover these small passages and to shape them into this book. Ever since, it's been my teacher as it has made its way from reader to reader for more than a decade.

While writing a few entries at a time, I was asked by an old friend if I could share them through email. That slowly led to a weekly sharing that went quietly for years all over the world, from London to India to South Africa. In 2000, the book began its journey in print. Almost two years ago, the book was kindly given to Oprah Winfrey as a birthday present, another appearance of gifting, and her deep connection and kind support has jettisoned the book into 20 languages and more than two dozen printings.

One of the foreign editions is in Russian, and I can't help but think of my grandmother who came to America from a small town outside of Kiev almost a century ago, who learned English slowly in Brooklyn 37 years before I was born, who held my hands as a boy and said to me in broken English, "These are the oldest things you own." Across oceans and centuries, the mysterious cycle of giving and receiving is very humbling.

I am often told that different passages of this book speak as if I knew exactly what a reader was going through. I confess I am not that smart. But such a convergence is a testament to the luminous fact that the soul drinks from the same lake at center. And somehow when one of us bows our head toward that lake, the center is opened for us all. This is one of the quietest gifts. I hope something in these pages will surprise and refresh you, and help you find your way to joy.

-- Mark Nepo

Mark Nepo has taught in the fields of poetry and spirituality for more than 35. His #1 New York Times bestseller "The Book of Awakening" was selected as one of "Oprah's Ultimate Favorite Things" in 2010. As a cancer survivor, Mark devotes his writing and teaching to the journey of inner transformation and the life of relationship. To learn more, please visit and