by Olivia Cecchettini
Man’s Search for Meaning
by: Viktor Frankl
Summary: “Man’s Search for Meaning” may not seem like a “yogi read” at first glance, but its message about the universal search for meaning in suffering gets at the heart of why many people practice yoga. After reading it, I’m not surprised the Library of Congress listed it as one of the ten most influential books in America.
From 1942-1945, Viktor Frankl lived in four different Nazi concentration camps, including Auschwitz. His entire family – parents, brother, wife – were separated from him upon arrival and ultimately perished in the camps. Frankl writes vividly about his struggle for physical and spiritual survival, “…you can take away everything from a man, but you cannot take away the freedom to choose one’s own attitude.”
Frankl developed Logo-therapy, a concept that our primary drive in life is the discovery and pursuit of what we personally find meaningful. Logo-therapy states that when one finds meaning in their experience, they can endure any circumstances.
Why I Love It: I love books that make me question why we do things, not just how. I studied Psychology at SDSU and Spiritual Psychology at USM, so this book had been on my list for a long time. I was very emotional reading Frankl’s account of the Holocaust – the stories of people living in the camps, how everyone reacted differently, how they coped, who survived, and who didn’t. It can be hard to process this as someone’s reality.
I understand the desire to only put your time and energy into those things that nourish and support you – I do this myself! But it’s important to be aware of violence and suffering in the world. It’s healthy to feel uncomfortable and empathetic. The experience of shared suffering, of empathy, drives us to take better care of one another, not just our immediate family but our universal family. I love this book because it reminded me to think and feel on this global level.
Recommended For: Individuals interested in finding fuller meaning in life, but especially those who are suffering. Frankl states that suffering is part of the human experience, it is unavoidable. The amount of suffering doesn’t matter; a trivial experience for one person could be crushing for another. We cannot avoid suffering, but we CAN choose our response, we can choose to find meaning in it and to move forward with renewed purpose. When we have purpose, we do more than just exist, we are present, feeling, connected and vibrantly alive.
Olivia’s yoga journey began in 2003. She is certified in Vinyasa, Hatha, and Aerial Yoga and holds a Masters degree in Spiritual Psychology. She believes the mind, body, soul connection is sacred and encourages her students explore and expand within their own bodies and consciousnesses.