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Today, we want to introduce you a book that will come out this November. It is called The Subtle Art of Caring: A Guide to Sustaining Compassion.

The Buddha taught the practices of loving kindness, compassion, empathetic joy, and equanimity. You may know and practise them as the Brahma Viharas. They are the guides and means to cultivate positive emotions and minimise harmful ones. 

Poet, writer, activist, coach, and Buddhist teacher River Wolton gives new life to these teachings as resources for a life in which compassion for self and others is mutually sustaining. There is an urgent need for compassionate action in the world. Sometimes, however, the difficulty of taking action against global problems can stamp out the impulse to care. In this context, compassion alone can lead to burnout, ‘compassion fatigue’, or ‘empathic distress’. How can we respond to such challenges?

Beautifully illustrated throughout by artist Emma Burleigh, and with exercises, meditations, and reflections, River helps us to find our own answers to these question.

In a world that often encourages self-centeredness and individual pursuits, The Subtle Art of Caring by River Wolton offers a refreshing perspective that explores the profound impact of compassion in our lives. This thought-provoking book takes readers on a transformative journey, guiding them to unlock the true potential of caring and its ability to create meaningful connections and enhance personal growth. In this blog post, we will delve into the key reasons why this book is an exceptional read.

  1. Challenging Traditional Notions of Success: Our society and economy prioritise achievement, status, and material possessions. In The Subtle Art of Caring  River Wolton invites us to reevaluate our definition of personal fulfillment and encourages us to shift their focus towards meaningful relationships, empathy, and kindness. By highlighting the intrinsic value of caring, the author offers a profound alternative that inspires readers to find true contentment in the simple act of making a positive difference in the lives of others.
  2. Nurturing Connections: In our hyper-connected digital age, genuine human connections have become increasingly elusive. The book delves into the significance of fostering authentic relationships that transcend superficial interactions. Wolton explores how caring can bridge the gap between us as individuals, fostering empathy and understanding. By sharing compelling anecdotes and insightful research, the book encourages readers to cultivate deep connections that enrich our lives and the lives around us.
  3. Cultivating Self-Compassion and self-knowledge: While caring for others is a central theme of the book, the author emphasizes the importance of self-compassion as a foundation for caring for others. Through introspection and self-reflection, readers are guided to acknowledge their own needs, strengths, and vulnerabilities, and learn to listen to others whose experience is very different from our own. By prioritising self-care and self-compassion, individuals can develop emotional resilience and establish a strong basis for extending care to others. This valuable lesson empowers us to embrace our own well-being while fostering a caring mind.
  4. Practical Strategies for Everyday Life: The Subtle Art of Caring is not just a theoretical exploration; it also offers practical strategies that readers can incorporate into their daily lives. Wolton provides actionable advice on active listening, expressing empathy, and nurturing relationships. The book presents scenarios and exercises that enable readers to develop their skills and overcome common barriers to compassion. By weaving together real-life examples and relatable anecdotes, Wolton equips us with the tools we need to enhance our caring abilities in various contexts.
  5. Inspiring Social Change: Beyond personal growth, The Subtle Art of Caring explores caring as a catalyst for social change. Wolton emphasises that collective compassion can lead to the transformation of communities and society as a whole. The book invites readers to consider how their individual acts of caring can ripple out and inspire and create a positive impact on a larger scale. By highlighting the potential of caring to address societal challenges, the book motivates readers to become agents of change and contribute to a more compassionate world.

The Subtle Art of Caring by River Wolton is a groundbreaking book that challenges societal norms and encourages readers to embrace compassion as a transformative force. By emphasising the power of caring and nurturing authentic connections, Wolton offers a refreshing perspective that resonates deeply with readers seeking a more fulfilling and purposeful life. Through practical strategies and thought-provoking insights, this book provides the tools necessary to cultivate empathy, both for oneself and others. By reading this book, you will embark on a remarkable journey that not only enhances personal growth but also empowers you to make a positive impact on the world around you.

The Subtle Art of Caring is due for publication in November 2023.

About the author

River Wolton trained as a social worker, psychotherapist, and carpenter; since 1998 she has taught creative writing in therapeutic, community, and educational settings. She is a former Derbyshire Poet Laureate, and her poetry collections include Leap, Indoor Skydiving, and Year – poems written each day of 2020 on the theme of kindness and obstacles to it.

A deepening interest in the connections between psychology, embodiment, creativity, activism, and spiritual practice led her to an Insight Meditation retreat in 2000. Since then she has been a regular retreatant at Gaia House, Devon, and continues to be inspired by teachings in the Buddhist tradition, and by radical thinkers who seek to address the crises of our times.

River helped to establish Sheffield Insight Meditation, completed Dharma Teacher Training with Bodhi College, and teaches meditation retreats and groups throughout the UK. A longtime peace, feminist, and LGBTQ activist, River sang for many years with lesbian acapella group Deep C Divas, and co-founded Out Aloud, Sheffield’s LGBT+ choir.


‘This book is a tonic for our times… I was invited into a different way of being as I imbibed this beautiful collage of reflections, conversations, and creative explorations.’ – Prof Rebecca Crane, PhD, Director, Centre for Mindfulness Research and Practice, Bangor University, UK

‘… River, a passionate contemplative artist and activist, shares with us what she has learned in her journey of creativity, social engagement, and meditation… she shows the way to a profoundly beneficial life for ourselves and others.’ – Martine Batchelor, meditation teacher and author of Meditation for Life and Let Go: a Buddhist Guide to Breaking Free of Habits

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