Lionheart Press offers books that merge spirituality with everyday life. For women, by women. (Mostly.) Books about our actual lives: the way we think about love, food, sex, family, community, inclusivity, and the power to transform the status quo. Created by Buddhist teachers Susan Piver and Crystal Gandrud, our offerings are accessible, grounded, deep, and authored by writers and teachers actively engaged in bringing ancient wisdom to our communities, work and play places, kitchens, and bedrooms.
We take our name and inspiration from three lions:
The Green Lion Devouring the Sun. An alchemical image in The Rosarium Philosophorum, a foundational alchemy text devoted to the practice and path of integrating masculine and feminine energies in order to transmute confusion, thereby enriching the world. The image is usually considered to represent our powerful, awakened nature, which is willing to eat (transmute) anything under the sun, including the sun itself, to gain wisdom. Like students of the Buddhist teachings, the green lion absorbs gold. “I am the true green and Golden Lion without cares, In me all the secrets of the Philosophers are hidden.”
Leonardo da Vinci’s mechanical lion. History asserts that Leonardo built the lion for Francis I, but history is written to wedge events into the patriarchal narrative. In reality, Leonardo made it for Francis I’s sister, the remarkable Marguerite de Navarre. Marguerite was a philosopher-poet-spiritual warrior who suffered harsh criticism from those who did not like a woman dancing in these arenas. To thank her for her friendship, patronage and protection (he was always in serious trouble), Leonardo created a life-sized metal lion that walked, sat, and opened its chest to offer her lilies, Marguerite’s symbol. The automaton represented his appreciation for feminine warriorship, intelligence and love.
The Perky Lion of Tibetan Buddhist teachings. One of the Four Dignities, or energies to cultivate for an awakened life, first taught in the west by Tibetan Buddhist master, Venerable Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche in his remarkable householder text, Shambhala: Sacred Path of the Warrior. The Perky Lion has an uplifted, joyful mind and she is never caught in the doubt that arises from a lack of synchronization of body, speech and mind. Because of this, she enjoys a continuous delight in the discipline that arises from simply being. She plays in the higher realms, leaping about on now-peaked mountains. Everything she does is energetic, dignified, beautiful, artful. The Perky Lion rocks her world.
Wherever it takes hold, Buddhist wisdom transforms its environment, but Buddhism is also changed by its environment. That is the magical, resilient alchemy of truth. Nothing static, nothing stale. Lionheart Press books are written for those who want to read about themselves and how to discover their own authentic wisdom and path. We trust you.
Look, Look, Look, Look, Look Again by Kevin Townley
Publication date: February 14, 2022
This book is a mad riot of interconnections: art, Buddhism, mandala principle, spiritual pursuits, growing up goth in the 90s, the theories of Marshall McLuhan, and a mongoose–to name but a few.
Meditation teacher, filmmaker, writer and art savant Kevin Townley turns his unique gaze upon 26 artists and magnifies the power and meaning of the five Buddhist wisdom energies through explorations of their work. Rather than trying to “explain” these energies, he reveals them to you in familiar visual language while, of course, pushing the boundaries of what you might have thought you saw at first glance.
Beautifully written and hilariously disarming, Look, Look, Look, Look, Look Again vibrates with lucid insight into society, history, and establishment, while teaching you a lot about meditation and Buddhism along the way. In exploring the practice, life, and work of these through the lens of the five wisdom energies, you come away with a deeper understanding of yourself, the world, and the true dharma that transcends culture and religion—and a profound gratitude for anyone really willing to look.
Love for the book:
Kevin Townley has written a delightful and quirky book, which I thoroughly enjoyed. His book is structured around two interlocking discussions. He gives readers a great introduction to the Buddhist five buddha family teachings, and he brings the reader to an intuitive connection with those teachings by means of art and in particular through the work and life stories of 26 accomplished female artists. His writing is fresh and accessible, and so tender. As soon as I started reading it, I immediately started thinking of friends I’d like to give it to. —Judith L. Lief, Buddhist teacher and editor of The Profound Treasury of the Ocean of Dharma
If, like me, you agree with John Ruskin’s assertion that “all that is good in art is the expression of one soul talking to another,” this book will facilitate conversations that once seemed beyond your grasp. Look led me to cast aside ideas about how making or absorbing art “should” feel and welcome its more visceral effects. By uncovering links between Buddhist practices and creative processes, Kevin Townley demystifies that daunting link between art and spirituality while leaving room for the divine. By weaving artists’ histories with his own, he makes the reader feel comfortable drawing connections between heady concepts and personal experience. Through a unique blend of compassion and curiosity, Kevin Townley has given readers a more intimate, spiritually-minded Ways of Seeing. —Tavi Gevinson, actor, writer, and founder of Rookie
Everywhere we look, we see the harmful effects of human confusion on the world’s ecologies. Townley explores the architecture of Buddhist mandala practice through the lens of 26 artists and unequivocally reveals that the solution to our deleterious confusion lies in unflinching intimacy with our own inner mandala. He helps us look, shows us what to see, and inspires our own creative potential through the obstacles, insights and creative workarounds of his chosen artists. This book has much to teach us about the nature of mind and how it actually affects the physical world. —Carson Chan, MoMA/Museum of Modern Art
This book will change you. It’s a rare feat, but with generosity, wit and wisdom, Townley shifts your perspective so that when you look, you can actually see clearly. I cannot emphasize enough the profound effect this book has had on me. If you feel lost, confused, caught in the self-help craze, do yourself a favor, and read this book, chock-full of ancient wisdom that will enhance your life and awaken your imagination. —Elna Baker, This American Life
Without a doubt, he is the Fran Lebowitz of Buddhist writing. —John Hodgman, host of the Judge John Hodgman Podcast
Click here for more information about Look, Look, Look, Look, Look Again.
Mommysattva by Jenna Hollenstein
Published September 2021
This book is an ode to the path of enlightenment that is motherhood. Individuals who dedicate their lives to being of benefit to others are known as bodhisattvas. They vow to work with their own minds to develop wisdom and compassion but delay their own enlightenment out of the knowledge of our interconnectedness with all living beings. Whether or not she intends to, and regardless of whether or not she’s Buddhist, a woman who becomes a mother takes the vow to be of benefit to others. She becomes a mommysattva: a warrior of compassion, wisdom, and lovingkindness. —Jenna Hollenstein
In 2020 and beyond, mothers were made to discover the depth–and preciousness and messiness and pain–of their capacity to love. In the Buddhist view, one who undertakes this journey is called a bodhisattva: those willing to have their hearts broken over and over by the poignancy and impossibility of loving so much while also wondering, “Where am I in all this? Surely my heart matters, too.”
Like all bodhisattvas, the Mommysattva journey suggests that self-love is the foundation for loving others–while continuing to stretch beyond your comfort zone and cycling between falling apart and getting yourself back together, falling apart and getting yourself back together, all of which is invisible…to everyone but other moms.
In this new book, writer, meditation teacher, nutrition therapist, and mom Jenna Hollenstein shares her own experiences of motherhood, viewed through the lens of powerful Buddhist teachings. It is not a guide to motherhood. Rather it’s an exploration of how everything we do as mothers is an opportunity to embrace the power, love, chaos, and possibility of this life. The book covers many of the felt experiences of those who mother – from the oft-painful metamorphosis of becoming a mother, to the practice of motherhood as a path to awakening, to mothers’ innately activist role in bringing about positive change.
Mommysattva is a wise, funny, and refreshingly real guide to what happens when the ideals of mindfulness practice meet the chaos of everyday motherhood. Jenna Hollenstein writes from the heart of the parenting hurricane, offering ways to stay present, kind, and attuned to the mystery–even as the winds blow. —Anne Cushman, author of The Mama Sutra: A Story of Love, Loss, and the Path of Motherhood
Click here for more information about Mommysattva.
Mommysattva is available at these fine bookstores:
Malaprop’s Bookstore/Cafe | 55 Haywood St Asheville, NC 28801 828-254-6734
Eat to Love by Jenna Hollenstein
Published January 2019
Eat to Love is a joyful, non-diet approach to mindfulness, intuitive eating, and falling in love with the body you live in.
This is not a diet book, not a “clean eating” manual, and not a guide to “being your best self.” Rather, it is a liberating path to sanity and to loving the body you have right now.
Since early childhood, many of us have heard that something is wrong with our bodies: with the way they look, the way they feel, and the food we crave. This diet culture—surrounding us in the form of media, fashion, food trends, and even messages from friends and family—tells us that the only way to be happy is to be thin and to rigidly follow the latest eating dogma. Eat to Love challenges this insidious, pervasive messaging and resets your relationship with food from one that’s shameful to one that’s nourishing, liberating, and enriching.
Eat to Love is a Buddhist approach to conquering dieting insanity, which has insidiously infiltrated our culture and perpetuated an unnecessary source of suffering, especially for women. You don’t need to be a Buddhist to use this book’s practical tools to tap into your own internal wisdom. This refreshing and compassionate book will help heal your relationship with food, mind and body. —Evelyn Tribole, MS, RDN, CEDRD-S coauthor of Intuitive Eating
Written by registered nutritionist Jenna Hollenstein, Eat to Love is a Buddhism-inspired healthy eating guide that combines the time-tested techniques of intuitive eating, meditation and mindfulness to investigate prejudices around eating and help you reset your relationship with food from one that’s restrictive to one that’s nourishing, liberating, and enriching.
The Four Noble Truths of Love by Susan Piver
Published June 2018
Broken hearts, resentment, affairs, divorce. Why is it so hard to make relationships work? New York Times bestselling author and mindfulness expert Susan Piver applies classic Buddhist wisdom to modern romance, including her own long-term relationship, to show that ancient philosophies have timeless—and unexpected—wisdom on how to love.
The Four Noble Truths of Love will challenge the expectations you have about dating, sex, and romance, liberating you from the habits, traumas, and expectations that have been holding back your relationships. This mindful approach toward love will help you open your heart fearlessly, deepen communications with your partner, increase your compassion and resilience, and lead you toward a path of true happiness. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain: expansive, real love for yourself and others.
Susan has combined three threads to give us a beautiful tapestry of spiritually conscious love: We find a clear and in-depth view of Buddhism. We see how it offers a path to intimate love. Susan uses her own relationship as an example of how it all comes together. This is a stand-out book for enriching love and closeness along the spiritual path.” —David Richo, author of How to Be an Adult in Relationships: The Five Keys to Mindful Loving
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