Edmonds’ East West Books and Gifts focuses on personal growth, spirituality

Store Manager Jaidhara Sleighter at East West Books and Gifts in Edmonds.

A teenager rang one of the meditation singing bowls that were displayed at the front of East West Books and Gifts in downtown Edmonds. The gentle hum reverberated throughout the store as she glanced at her parents in awe. “That’s so cool,” she whispered.

The bowls are part of many products and resources that offer guidance to spirituality, yoga, meditation and related topics. They also host online meditation classes that are guided by local and international practitioners.

A display of books and gifts inside the store.

Founded in 1989 by Seattle resident Jamuna Snitkin, the store closed its original location in Seattle’s Roosevelt neighborhood in March 2020 at the beginning of the COVID-19 lockdown. They moved their inventory to the Ananda Community in Lynnwood, and later to the Ananda Temple in Bothell. In October, East West Books and Gifts added Edmonds on 3rd Avenue North as its newest expansion. 

“A member of Ananda just so happened to be walking down the street in downtown Edmonds when she came across a statue of a dancer at the street corner,” Store Manager Jaidhara Sleighter said in an interview, referring to the statue by sculptor David Varnau located at the northwest corner of Main Street and 3rd Avenue. 

“When she looked at the title, the dancer was called Ananda! In that same moment, she saw around the corner an empty space, and when she shared it with everyone,” Sleighter continued. The staff at East West Books and Gifts fell in love with the location. The store opened its doors a few months later, on Oct. 25.

The store is located at 110 3rd Ave. N. in downtown Edmonds.

Sleighter joined the store when his long-time friend Rika Rafael, who is the communications manager at East West Books and Gifts, needed help running the Edmonds location. 

“I felt inspired to throw my name in the hat and I got the job!” Sleighter said.

Sleight said that Ananda is a “global spiritual movement” that was founded by Swami Kriyananda in 1969, who was a direct disciple of the Hindu monk Paramhansa Yogananda

“One of Kriyananda’s missions was to help spread Yogananda’s ideal of world brotherhood colonies throughout the world,” he said. “One of which is here in Lynnwood, as well as a place called the Blue Lotus Temple in Bothell, which serves both local members as well as the larger circle of yoga and meditation students in the Seattle area.”

Sleighter joined Ananda in 2004 at age 21 and was “deeply inspired” by Ananda India. In 2005, he bought a one-way ticket to Gurgon, India, and joined a monastic brotherhood where he lived and served the public as a monk for seven years with Kriyananda’s blessing. 

“Seven years sounds like a long time, but looking back it went by like a flash,” he recalled. “Being a formal monk within Ananda is a life committed wholeheartedly to service and meditation. I loved it!”

Toward the end of Kriyananda’s life, Sleighter was asked to join the Swami’s personal staff and had then traveled the world with him until he passed away at an Ananda community in Assisi, Italy, in April 2013. While he was there, Sleighter met his future wife and lived there with her for many years. 

“After our beautiful son was born, we shifted to the U.S. and eventually came to serve here in Lynnwood,” he said. 

Jaidhara Sleighter helps customers.

For Sleighter, working at East West Books and Gifts is a continuation of helping people with their personal growth and spiritual journey. “Some may come because they simply would like a nice candle or crystal,” he said. “Others may come because they are desperately seeking a deeper meaning in life. Yet despite their reason, all who come are in some way uplifted when they walk through the doors.

“We both are so grateful how welcomed we have been since arriving in Edmonds,” Sleighter continued. “Meeting people, developing friendships, and integrating into our local community is certainly close to our hearts. Before we moved in, the space had been a vacant office space for nearly five years. To paraphrase something a customer recently told me, ‘Simply no one had the vision to see it more than just an office space. Now you walk in and it is something beautiful.’”

East West Books and Gifts opens on Wednesday to Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sundays from noon to 5 p.m.

— Story and photos by Nick Ng

  1. I have visited this store numerous times since it opened; and it is truly a fine experience! Jaidhara Sleighter and his staff provide exceptional customer service. This store is a great new business in downtown Edmonds!

  2. The gentle energy is amazing. I have had numerous psychic readings at the Seattle location and they were spot-on and very helpful in providing insight to deal with the issues. Their website provides scheduling info /background on practitioners. Another mental health approach to wellness!

  3. I am sure this is a great store and a very peaceful place to hang out. I don’t myself believe in psychics, but I do think they can read people and well maybe that is ok. I once dabbled in Numerology for fun and friends. I did mine and my dad’s and we had the same number. I was pleased with our number rating ha. Now I do like to believe in preconceived destiny ha. I took a quiz once and it said I was going to live to be 111 years old. HA. Now I choose to believe this as well I would like nothing more than to play in Edmonds and with you citizens of Edmonds for a very long time. I expect by 100 I will slow down and just wait the other 11 years out. But in the Interim look out 🙂 By the way the sonnet Interim by Edna St. Vincent Millay is one of my very favorite sonnets. I adore that woman. Early independent woman, hung out with a way cool crowd in Greenwich and Paris. She died in 1952 the year I was born. A biography was written (its great) called Savage Beauty. Check it out. Read her, feel her.

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