In the past few months, a wave of self-help books with a spiritual basis have been published. Let's take a look at a few:
“Living Presence: The Sufi Path to Mindfulness and the Essential Self” by Kabir Helminski
This is a revised and updated 25th-anniversary edition from publisher Tarcher Perigee. Helminski talks about presence, self-awareness and how those concepts can improve life, as seen through the Sufis, a mystic sect of Islam. Helminski is on a list of the 500 Most Influential Muslims in the World and is considered a skilled translator of the Sufi poet Rumi, who is quoted in the book, along with Muhammed and the Quran.
“The Zen of You & Me: A Guide to Getting Along With Just About Anyone” by Diane Musho Hamilton
This small edition from Shambala Press has chapters such as "Same and Different," "Expressing Our Differences," "Talking about Differences," "Natural Compassion" and "Practice is the Way."
Each chapter ends with “The Practice,” exercises to work on the chapter’s thoughts. For instance, in "The Ego Divides" four steps are suggested. The first is to learn what a “provoked nervous system” feels and looks like in yourself. The author then suggests letting go of the story you are telling and instead focusing on the feeling and notice what is happening. Then to learn to practice steady breathing.
Each chapter is a just a bite on the subject of getting along with others, recognizing your needs as well as others’ and finding a way to work to help both.
“Busy Lives and Restless Souls: How Prayer Can Help You Find the Missing Peace in Your Life” by Becky Eldredge
This Baton Rouge author writes about how to move from the growing to-do list and past restlessness. In her book published by Loyola Press, Eldredge starts by sharing about her first attempt at an hour of silent prayer. She also tells how during preparation for her confirmation into Catholicism, a teacher challenged her beliefs, telling her that she was espousing her parents’ beliefs, not her own. Eldredge then explains how journaling, which she later realized was prayer, was her start of a direct relationship with God.
Each chapter of this book ends with “A Look at Your Life Now,” a chance to reflect on your life in view of the lesson.
Eldredge uses examples from her life, including difficult times, to illustrate points. In Chapter 7, she points out she has talked about God’s love and mercy until that point. The next step is to the intimacy of Jesus and walking closely with him. Different forms of prayer are shared throughout the book.
“The Five Longings: What We’ve Always Wanted — And Already Have” by David Richo
In the introduction, Richo writes: “The fact that we have longings for the lasting in a world that is always changing is not illogical. It is the presence of something transcendent in us.”
Early, the book from Shambala deals with the difference between longing and desire, and then how to long for more without it being an addiction.
The longings Richo deals with are love, meaning, freedom, happiness and growth. The book is filled with lists dealing with related questions and practices and simple charts that split topics into manageable concepts.
Richo includes practices but doesn’t break them out. Instead, they flow into the text of each chapter.
“Heartwork: The Path of Self-Compassion” by Radhule Weininger
In this Shambala text, the author says it can be used in several ways. You can read it straight through and work on the practices. You can read just the author’s story. Or you can read the stories of others. If there is one area the reader wants to work on, such as mindfulness or a theme that speaks to the reader’s current situation, these can be selected from the book. Subjects include money problems, old family issues and betrayal.
And while the book’s title speaks of self-compassion, it also shows how being compassionate to yourself spreads to others.