These are uneasy times. The Covid pandemic lingers. Politics and social views are deeply polarized. Inflation is roaring. Many fear what the future may hold. Where are people turning to find peace of mind? Inward and upward, say publishers of mind-body-spirit books.
“Our readers want most of all to find happiness,” notes Watkins Publishing publisher Fiona Robertson. “And realizing that the external world cannot be relied upon to provide this, they are looking for ways of developing and empowering the only thing they can control—themselves. There is an ever-increasing interest in paganism, folklore, traditional practices, and the re-enchantment of the landscape, which is arising out of the chaos, conflict, and violence of our current era. People are less interested nowadays in the old school ‘nine steps to find yourself’ type of self-help. Instead, they are on the hunt for new, practical, and effective ways of dealing with the stress, anxiety, and hopelessness that keeps them awake at night.”
Georgia Hughes, editorial director for New World Library, says, “Mind-body-spirit books try to connect humanity to their best selves, and to heal, and too much of what we see in other media focuses on conflict and ridicule. We have discovered that one result of the pandemic, and also of the chaotic political, economic, and social climate we find ourselves in, is that people are going inward, and reconnecting to their own inner guidance. Part of that is mindfulness, part of that is focusing on their truest selves, and part is devising a spiritual practice that will sustain them through difficult times and help them set and understand their personal value system. In other words, what is a priority for me now, and how do I make the time and space for that to flourish? And then, how do I use this in the wider world?”
Mindfulness and meditation are popular and well-published techniques for finding an inner peace. There are lessons to be learned from contemplative Christianity, from Japanese calligraphy, in community, and in quiet moments with nature. In January 2023, Broadleaf will publish Practice the Pause: Jesus’ Contemplative Practice, New Brain Science, and What It Means to Be Fully Human, by spiritual director Caroline Oakes, who writes that people too often “miss Jesus’s clarion call for us to wake up and recognize our own divinity, our own spark of the divine dwelling within us, and that spark of the divine indwelling in all others.” The key, according to Oakes, “is to follow Jesus’s practice of taking time to be in silence and solitude with God.”
Hampton Roads, a Red Wheel/Weiser imprint, offers a self-protection system, based in meditation and mindfulness techniques, for guarding oneself in person and online in Protect Your Light: A Practical Guide to Energy Protection, Cleansing, and Cutting Cords (out now), by spiritual teacher George Lizos.
Shambhala has several titles focused on healing and reconnecting minds and spirits through yoga, breathwork, meditation, and mindfulness. In the illustrated guide Moon Path Yoga: Kundalini Practices and Rituals for Women to Align with the Lunar Cycles (Oct.), veteran yoga teacher Sierra Hollister presents more than 170 meditations for health and to “awaken and enhance Shakti—the divine feminine, creative life force,” per the publisher. Returning the Self to Nature: Undoing Our Collective Narcissism and Healing Our Planet” (Sept.), by ecopsychologist Jeanine M. Canty, offers meditation practices designed to help a reader experience “a courageous, pluralistic, and ecological self.” And We Heal Together: Rituals and Practices for Building Community and Connection (Apr.), by social justice activist and yoga teacher Michelle Cassandra Johnson, adds rituals and journaling to meditation and mindfulness “to connect with our inner selves, our ancestors and our communities,” according to the publisher.
Watkins Publishing brushes with mindfulness, literally, in Shodo (Oct.) by Rie Takeda, an expert in the ancient Japanese calligraphy technique of Shodo. Her book centers on “building mindfulness through calligraphy, uniting the movement of the hand, the mind, and energy to create a beautiful depiction of the present moment,” says editor Ella Chappell.
You’ve got this (but you don’t know it)
The premise behind many mind-body-spirit titles is that readers already have—but may have forgotten— everything they need to be spiritually and physically strong. Sounds True associate publisher Jaime Schwalb says, “As we learn how to authentically love ourselves and tap into our internal wisdom, we are able to go beyond the self to show up for the world in a more aligned and engaged way. When we turn toward the darkness and challenge from a place of resilience and empowerment, rather than turning away in self-preservation, we are able to boldly support our collective transformation.”
Among new and forthcoming Sounds True titles are Roar Like a Goddess: Every Woman’s Guide to Becoming Unapologetically Powerful, Prosperous, and Peaceful (Sept.), by Vedic spiritual teacher Acharya Shunya, who writes that she reenvisions India’s ancient goddesses for contemporary women to recover the roar “that is our true sound.” The Line: A New Way of Living with the Wisdom of Your Akashic Record (out now), by podcaster Ashley Wood, introduces readers to the occultist idea of a record of all thoughts and actions across time, and offers what Wood describes in the book as breathing and movement rituals “to gain access to the wisdom embedded in the journey of our souls.”
Below is a sampling of more upcoming titles to reboot readers’ spirits:
● The Flowering Wand: Rewilding the Sacred Masculine (Sacred Planet, Nov.), by poet Sophie Strand, examines myths, folklore, and religious history to recover and reveal “the divine masculine, including expressions of male friendship, male intimacy, and male creative collaborations,” according to the publisher, which added that the book has the most preorders among titles on its current list.
● I’m Ascending, Now What? Wake Up, Shine Bright, and Embody Your True Self (St. Martin’s Essentials, May 2023) by Sydney Campos, author and Visionary Souls podcaster, offers a collection of stories, practices, and what the publisher calls “approachable wisdom” for finding one’s authentic self.
● The Light Within a Human Heart (Watkins, out now), by Danish mystic Lars Mohl, argues that “our future and the future of the planet lies in changing our focus from material wealth to spiritual enrichment,” which can be achieved by learning the magic of being “beautifully present despite the inevitable difficulties of life,” says Watkins publisher Robertson.
● Rebels, Despots & Saints: The Ancestors Who Free Us and the Ancestors We Need to Free (Chalice, Sept.), by minister and anti-racism activist Sandhya Rani Jha, posits that social justice is spiritual work. Jha suggests personal and community rituals for readers “to connect with their own ancestors and find grounding for racial reconciliation and liberation in their own communities,” according to the publisher.
● You Are Not Stuck: How Soul-Guided Choices Transform Fear into Freedom (St. Martin’s Essentials, Jan. 2023), by yoga teacher Becky Vollmer, teaches breathing exercises and mindfulness techniques—with straight talk and a sense of humor—to move people forward to confident action, according to the publisher.
● You Can Remember Who You Were Before Life Made You Forget: How to Transform Your Pain, Redefine Your Story and Rediscover Your Soul Signature (Welbeck, out now), by psychotherapist and energy healer Janny Juddly, offers energy and spiritual coaching to help readers recover their essential nature and “transform pain into wisdom and resilience,” according to the publisher.
● Your Human Design: Discover Your Unique Life Path and How to Navigate It with Purpose (Fair Winds, Jan. 2023), by podcasters Shayna Cornelius and Dana Stiles, calls on a cornucopia of mind-body-spirit techniques for self-understanding that includes astrology, the chakra system, I Ching, and the kabbalah tree of life, as well as quantum mechanics, biochemistry, and astronomy.
Angels, dragons, visions, and voices
Angel books, which were ubiquitous in mind-body-spirit publishing a few decades ago, are still afloat, Hughes says. New World Library’s Angel Wealth Magic: Simple Steps to Hire the Divine & Unlock Your Miraculous Financial Flow (Nov.), by Corin Grillo, a spiritual teacher and podcaster, “truly looks at a phenomenon that is timeless and part of the human experience through many ages and traditions: communicating with spiritual beings that we call ‘angels’ for guidance and support,” Hughes says. Summarizing Grillo’s view on skepticism about angels, she adds, “You don’t have to believe in the angels because they believe in you.”
Ditto that for dragons—which are “a huge mind-body-spirit trend for the future—the new angels,” according to Robertson at Watkins. “Dragons are spiritual warriors of the Earth, energetic and high-frequency beings who, like angels, work from other realms to support and guide us.” Watkins is publishing How to Live with Dragons: The Dragon Path to Healing, Empowerment and Adventure (Oct.), by British author Caroline Mitchell, who channels dragons at workshops. She writes on her website that dragons are about “embracing your power, standing in your truth, speaking your truth, and taking personal responsibility.”
Sometimes the “voice” is actually your body telling you something you don’t want to know related to fear, anxiety, mental or physical pain. Healing is a significant focus for mind-body-spirit authors and publishers in the coming year. One of the leading authorities in using mindfulness to foster health is Jon Kabat-Zinn, a professor of medicine and author who founded the Center for Mindfulness at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in 1979. His latest book, Mindfulness Meditation for Pain Relief: Practices to Reclaim Your Body and Your Life (Sounds True, Apr. 2023), addresses chronic pain with such techniques as breathing, meditating, and taking three-minute pauses to “rest in awareness.”
Healing the self, healing the world
Broadleaf has two titles on the wisdom we can learn from our bodies. The Embodied Path: Telling the Story of Your Body for Healing and Wholeness (Dec.), by yoga instructor Elle Roscher, presents writing prompts and breath and body practices designed to help people do “the essential work of resistance and repair at the individual and communal level,” according to the publisher. My Body and Other Crumbling Empires: Lessons for Healing in a World That Is Sick by Lyndsey Medford (Mar. 2023), according to the publisher, “draws on Medford’s experiences with a rare autoimmune disease to illuminate the broader lessons we need to learn, in order to heal what ails us individually and communally. Whether our burnout stems from illness, systemic racism, poverty, or simply sin’s separation, we’re all in need of hope, and we are called to heal together.”
New World Library also has titles about healing both individuals and communities in a troubled world. Your Body Will Show You the Way: Energy Medicine for Personal and Global Change (Sept.) is by energy medicine practitioner Ellen Meredith, who on her website calls herself “probably one of the most down-to-earth woo-woos you can find.” She presents energy medicine as a conversation between body, mind, and spirit to move toward personal, social, and even planetary well-being by working from the inside out, according to the publisher. Recovering You: Soul Care and Mindful Movement for Overcoming Addiction (Nov.), by Qigong movement expert Steven Washington, “helps readers discover their true selves under the clutter, whether that’s addiction, a failed relationship, toxic technology, or some other disrupting force,” Hughes says. “Washington uses movement to guide readers through his nine-part process to heal from fear, shame, and regret, and helps them recover a sense of well-being and hope.”
Still, Tho Ha Vinh, former director of Bhutan’s globally unique Gross National Happiness Center, says finding well-being isn’t enough to change the world. Vinh’s book A Culture of Happiness: How to Scale Up Happiness from People to Organizations (Parallax, Sept.) argues that “personal programs for happiness that include mindfulness, empathy, and gratitude are a good start, but without structural changes, they can only go so far,” according to its publisher. In it, Vinh voices concerns that the stories, myths, and theories we tell ourselves to make sense of our experiences are no longer widely shared. He writes, “No messiah, no great prophet, no charismatic leader will appear and reveal the new story that we need. It has to be a process of collective intelligence, harnessed through dialogue and creative processes. It is one of the greatest tasks in our time.”
Cathy Lynn Grossman is a veteran writer on religion and ethics living in Washington, D.C.
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