The Hippo


Apr 18, 2019








Meet Ashley Davis Bush

Where: Water Street Bookstore, 125 Water St., Exeter, 778-9731
When: Thursday, April 20, at 7 p.m.

Find inner peace
Ashley Davis Bush tells how via a pocket-sized book

By Kelly Sennott

 When it comes to self-help, Epping psychotherapist and writer Ashley Davis Bush is a realist. She knows most clients aren’t going to make extravagant overnight lifestyle changes — but they might try a new practice if it’s easy to do. 

This is the thought behind her latest title, The Little Book of Inner Peace: Simple Practices for Less Angst, More Calm, published April 4 by Gaia, a division of Octopus Publishing Group in the United Kingdom. She talks about it at Water Street Bookstore Thursday, April 20, at 7 p.m.
The book is 96 pages and 4 by 6 inches, small enough to fit in your pocket and filled with practices easy enough to utilize and absorb any time of day — while laying in bed, sitting in the car, even standing in line at the grocery store. It’s the kind of thing people will actually use, she said.
“If you give homework that’s too challenging, nobody does it, so it’s not helpful. These are things you can do within minutes, or less,” Bush said via phone, a day after its release.
It’s not her first book written with this idea in mind; some of her other recent titles are Simple Self-Care for Therapists, 75 Habits for a Happy Marriage and Shortcuts to Inner Peace. 
“These books were similar in that I was interested in small, doable, tangible practices to help people, whether it was to ground them, help them relax or find inner peace or intimacy with their partner,” she said.
But this one’s shorter than those, free of stories and theories. It contains about 20 practices, four per chapter, which involve things like movement, breath and visualization. One of the most effective (and popular) listed is the “4-7-8 breath” or the “recalibration breath,” an ancient technique Bush said helps restore balance to the central nervous system.  (Inhale for a count of four, hold that breath for a count of seven, exhale for a count of eight. Repeat three times.)
Bush has seen it work wonders for many individuals with anxiety or anger management issues. One client used it during a certification exam. She practices it before presentations and workshops all the time.
“It sounds simple, but it’s extraordinarily practical and effective. I suggest it to every client I work with,” Bush said.
Some of the practices involve specific environments or props, like candles. (Gaze at a lighted candle with your eyes partially closed. Look at the light, and label what you see — dancing flames, blue light, the center wick. Blow it out and watch the smoke curl up in the air.) Another is inspired by a Jewish custom, Modeh Ani, in which you give thanks for what you have, whatever it might be — family, friends, health, a warm bed, another day to live — as soon as you wake up in the morning.
Bush’s definition of inner peace is something anyone can achieve, so long as they are mindful, gracious and compassionate.
“It’s possible to have inner peace even when your circumstances are not ideal, even when you have financial, health or relationship concerns,” she said.
Bush, who describes herself as a “chronic journaler,” having written every day since age 8, loves writing about these subjects because it helps her reach a wider audience. When she’s not writing books, she tackles articles with the Huffington Post and blogs on her website.
Her book is part of a series with the publishing company (other titles include The Little Book of Gratitude and The Little Book of Mindfulness, both by different authors), and it’s already being translated into five other languages — French, Spanish, German, Swedish and Norwegian.
Bush knows firsthand the benefits of these practices, and she credits them for keeping her grounded while running her private practice and raising five kids (and at one point, five dogs at the same time). But she can only meet with so many clients. This presents a chance to touch more lives and offer something many people need right now. 
“There’s a lot of anxiety in the air right now, with recent political events, and it’s affecting a lot of people,” she said. “I think now, more than ever, there’s a need for people to find ways to achieve a more peaceful state.” 

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