How the Poor Clares kickstarted a path to peace and tranquility
As far as book buyers in Ireland were concerned, 2014 was the Year of Mindfulness. The Mind Body Spirit genre of books struck a major chord here over the last year, with 2014 witnessing a very strong growth in sales in this area - up a remarkable 28pc on those of 2013.
British author Tiddy Rowan's gift book, The Little Book of Mindfulness, sold a staggering 15,000 copies in the Irish market - on a par with Christmas bestsellers from Graham Norton, Colm Tóibín and Cecelia Ahern. The year also saw strong sales from Irish mindfulness expert Padraig O'Morain and classics of the genre such as Thích Nhat Hanh's Buddhist text, The Miracle of Mindfulness.
Perhaps we should not be so surprised by this. You may remember that in the run-up to Christmas 2013 the little book by the Poor Clares, called Calm the Soul: A Book of Simple Wisdom and Prayer, turned into a runaway bestseller. Much to the amazement of everyone in the book trade, it stayed in the charts for months, spending 15 weeks at number one.
The book, by the enclosed order of nuns based in Galway, seemed to catch a need among so many people who were feeling oppressed by the economic downturn and the same thing continued last year in the Mind Body Spirit genre as people sought comfort from the pressures of everyday life.
In fact, last year the Franciscan friars in Dublin got in on the act with their new book called The Simplest Prayer, which was very much along the same lines as the book by the Poor Clares.
Then there is the on-going success of writers like Alice Taylor, author of To School Through the Fields, whose recent book Do You Remember? was again a journey into nostalgia with spiritual undertones. And of course there is the phenomenon that is Michael Harding, whose last book Hanging with the Elephant was again all about being and finding contentment, like his first, Staring at Lakes.
"The pressures of the recession and the challenges of the last few years have created a real need for peace and reflection among Irish book buyers", says Dubray Books MD, Maria Dickenson. "Mindfulness encourages us to be aware only of the moment that we are in, and is proven to reduce stress and promote well-being. The increase in sales of these titles indicate a real craving for a calmer, happier life among Irish people".
To met the high level of interest, Dubray Books have put together a selection of the best books in the genre, under the banner Mindfulness: Books to Change your Path in Life.
The list includes the best-loved books on mindfulness, along with a range of fiction, biography and health titles which share the same yearning for a better way of living. These include Wild by Cheryl Strayed - released yesterday as a movie starring Reese Witherspoon - who walked 1,100 miles to find emotional redemption, and Deepak Chopra's latest book, What are you Hungry for?
There are also a number of Irish authors whose work has helped to inspire readers. Maureen Gaffney's Flourishing has been a fixture in the Mind Body Spirit bestseller charts since its publication, while Simon Fitzmaurice's It's Not Yet Dark provides inspiration to strive for happiness even in the most challenging of circumstances.