In the wellness category, which continues to amass reader interest and range, four books are looking at the impact spirituality has on brain health. Jan Long Harris, executive publisher at Tyndale House, says the connection between the two topics is far from new, but notes that today’s research can show how and why certain spiritual practices can actually change the brain and improve mental and emotional health.
“People have sought spiritual solutions to mental and emotional struggles since ancient times, as reflected in Jewish and Christian scriptures,” Harris explains. “In the Psalms, for example, King David praised God as a way to overcome his deep sense of guilt and despair. In the New Testament, the apostle Paul urged early Christians to worship God and ‘renew their minds.’ ”
In March, Tyndale is publishing Change Your Brain Every Day: Simple Daily Practices to Strengthen Your Mind, Memory, Moods, Focus, Energy, Habits, and Relationships by psychiatrist and clinical neuroscientist Daniel G. Amen. The book features daily exercises aimed at improving brain health, boosting memory, dealing with stress, and strengthening relationships. Amen addresses “not just spiritual practices that have been proven to improve mental and emotional health—such as prayer, meditation and forgiveness—but also ways to enhance your sense of meaning and purpose,” Harris says, adding that “you can make your brain better and, as a result, your life better through simple daily practices.”
Coming from Moody Publishers in May, The 4 Habits of Joy-Filled People: 15-Minute Brain Science Hacks to a More Connected and Satisfying Life looks at how to build healthy habits based on the latest research on neuroscience and attachment theory, which studies how people form and keep attachments to one another. Authors Marcus Warner and Chris Coursey are both ministry leaders and speakers on brain-based exercises. “This is an important book given the huge mental challenges so many are experiencing in the wake of the pandemic,” says Drew Dyck, acquisitions editor at Moody. “Rates of anxiety, depression, and loneliness are through the roof, but readers aren’t settling for peppy motivational books—they want hard science and practical advice.”
Change Your Mind: Deprogram Your Subconscious Mind, Rewire the Brain, and Balance Your Energy by RJ Spina (Llewellyn, Aug.) draws on high-frequency metaphysics, such as meditation and mindfulness practices, in order to “rewire the subconscious mind,” according to the publisher. A 14-day journaling exercise is also intended to help readers eliminate stress, doubt, and low energy.
Finally, out now from Broadleaf, Practice the Pause: Jesus’ Contemplative Practice, New Brain Science, and What It Means to Be Fully Human by spiritual director Caroline Oakes blends new developments in studies of the brain with Jesus’s spiritual practices. The book, Broadleaf says, shows how a “centering pause,” or spending a few minutes meditating, praying, or doing other contemplative practices, can positively rewire brain circuitry.