cover image Finding Refuge: Heart Work for Healing Collective Grief

Finding Refuge: Heart Work for Healing Collective Grief

Michelle Cassandra Johnson. Shambhala, $17.95 trade paper (176p) ISBN 978-1-6118

Social worker and yoga teacher Johnson (Skill in Action) suggests uplifting methods for processing grief resulting from cultural trauma and systemic oppression. She writes with wisdom and clarity (“Spiritual practice is designed for us to see things as they are, which means we must see, sense, and feel collective suffering”), offering meditation and journaling exercises to help readers connect with a “loving Spirit.” Each chapter centers on a personally traumatic experience that caused her to feel “collective grief,” such as recognizing racial bias in the medical system after doctors presumptuously dismissed her mother’s mysterious ailments as a pinched nerve and delayed treating her spinal stenosis, and unpacks concepts such as spiritual bypassing (using one’s spiritual beliefs to avoid hard topics instead of confronting them) and understanding that one is constantly “deciding what our legacy will be with our actions, intentions, and beliefs.” She also recommends creating boundaries in order to maintain one’s “life force” and communicating with one’s ancestors by creating an altar or composing letters. Spiritualists interested in social justice will get much out of Johnson’s engaging stories, practical advice, and contemplative practices. (Aug.)