John Selby Bio
John Selby is a fiction and non-fiction author with over 30 published positive psychology-meditation books plus eleven feature screenplays and half a dozen novels. He has been a cognitive therapist and spiritual counselor, and conducted NIH brain-research examining the inner mechanics of creativity and mindfulness meditation.
John has taught creative writing and publishing strategies, and coached numerous authors in book-project development. He's also ghostwritten or content-edited over two dozen books for aspiring authors in a wide variety of genres including fiction, feature screenplays, and non-fiction books.
John was born in the valley of Ojai near Santa Barbara. The grandson of early west-coast settlers, he grew up on cattle ranches in California and Arizona, and attended the Ojai Valley School. He went east to Princeton in the mid-sixties, getting his BA degree in Psychology. He worked as a research hypnotist at the New Jersey Neuro-psychiatric Institute under the renown Dr. Humphry Osmond MD doing brain research for the National Institutes of Health. His recent memoir Blowing America's Mind documents in dramatic form that early professional experience.
Under the guidance of his mentor Alan Watts, John moved to San Francisco to continue his graduate studies in psychology at UC Berkeley and the Graduate Theological Union. His new novel Shooting Angels dramatizes this period of his life. In the mid-70s John moved to LA to participate in the early director-intern program at the American Film Institute. Demonstrating a sharp knack for story-telling and screenplay-writing, he was taken aboard at the renown film agency of Reece Halsey – but unsatisfied with the Hollywood screen-writing scene, John finished his post-grad studies under Dr. Chuck Kelly PhD at the Radix Institute in Ojai, and worked as a Neo-Reichian therapist/consultant in San Luis Obispo.
Continuing to write fiction, John made lengthy trips south of the border to Mexico and Guatemala studying primitive tribal customs and working on various fiction projects. Returning from a wild year in highland Guatemala in 1979, he wrote and sold his early mystic/action novel (Powerpoint - still available) to Warner Books. Forced by his NY editor to change the plot and theme into an occult thriller, he swore never again to write commercial genre novels – and shifted his focus to developing effective therapy techniques for transcending anxiety and depression. His meditation books have sold over 700,000 copies and helped fuel the mindfulness movement.
In the 80s John moved to West Berlin where a young generation of Germans were eager to explore his personal-transformation techniques. While in Switzerland in 1984, John met and married the Bavarian artist Birgitta Steiner. Together they envisioned and sold a 24-book 'self-therapy library' to a major European publisher (Knaur Verlag), and worked for 4 years creating both text and audio dimensions for those German-market programs. Over three dozen of John’s mindfulness/self-help titles have been published in 17 languages.
During his research and therapy career, John often worked at the creative edge of the corporate world, counseling executives and developing mindfulness programs in the workplace. This focus led to the founding of the BrightMind Corporation in Hawaii in the nineties. That company morphed into WizeWell Inc in Silicon Valley before being sold. A number of John's therapy clients have been business leaders – and several of them became characters in his Jack Hadley psych-tech mystery series.
John now lives with his wife in Santa Cruz. During the last seven years he has envisioned, written and published five new suspense/mystery/thriller novels and related film properties, along with the Mindfully High text and app. He is now working on a new book exploring how cannabis can positively impact intimate relationships.
John is also coaching new writers, helping them envision, write and publish their books. To date he has ghostwritten 14 books in fiction, psychology, self-help, business and memoir genres.
Like so many of us these days, I've led two lives - the professional life that makes the bucks ... and the creative life that more deeply satisfies. I've thoroughly enjoyed both personas. As a therapist, consciousness-researcher and mindfulness coach, I've written a couple dozen self-help and spiritual books, some of which have sold quite well while others (some of my best) never took off commercially because I was off doing other things when the book came out. Basic personality fault.
Readers of my fiction will know that my characters tend do be interested in exploring the same things I write about in my non-fiction books - what is life all about, how can we change our own beliefs and behaviors, what is the human sex drive and where might it lead us? And in both fiction and non-fiction, I tend to go for the intuitive rather than the intellectual, the adventure rather than the security - and the emerging newness rather than the staid correctness of the status quo.
My very first non-fiction book happened rather by accident. My wife at the time got a contract to write a book on visual recovery, but she wasn't able to actually get the book written. Because I'd recovered from myopia at twenty-four, I was able to sit down and in three weeks (working against the pub deadline) take her notes and pound out a reasonable book on the topic.
The book did well in several languages, and writing it had been relatively easy. I'd learned at Princeton how to write fast and well, so I guess I just tapped that education. And then ... I found that my work as a therapist led to writing more books about what I was observing and learning about the human psyche.
SEX & SPIRIT TOGETHER
I'd always had a spiritual edge to my otherwise fairly pragmatic personality - and my early research with psychedelics had taught me that consciousness is vastly more than we're programmed to experience as good law-abiding citizens. So it was natural for me to write meditation books. I'd studied psychotherapy under Chuck Kelley, one of Wilhelm Reich's main students, so I'd also learned a lot about how breathing is crucial to all aspects of a good life. And therefore one of my main books, while I was living and doing therapy in Weest Berlin, was all about breathing - and that book sold very well in Europe and led to a numb er of more books on the theme of breath, meditation, healing, and relating.
My other professional fixation has always been the nature and magic and dynamics of human relating. What I consider one of my very best books, Let Love Find You, felt remarkably satisfying to write - but never got marketed at all in the states. Several good big publishers became very frustrated with me, because I don't like to blow my own horn, I don't like to give lectures, I don't enjoy interviews (at least until recently), and I seem to have almost zero knack for marketing and promotion.
So I have written what many people considered very good and helpful self-help and meditation books over the years, as you can see down below this page as my Amazon collection scrolls by. At last count I've sold around 600,000 books, and hopefully touched a lot of hearts. Personally I most like Quiet Your Mind, Mind Dance, Kundalini Awakening, Secrets Of A Good Night's Sleep, Conscious Healing, Jesus For The Resat Of Us, and Seven Masters, One Path. I also wrote and love a fast fun heartful book called Finding Each Other documenting the magical weeks of searching for and suddenly finding my long-term partner in life.
THE CANNABIS ELEMENT
Way back in college I discovered that the psychological effects of the herb called marijuana are remarkably valuable and enjoyable and healing when approached properly. I was introduced to hashish as a holy sacrament to be approached with reverence and awe - and ever since, I've been exploring optimal ways to integrate a bit of the herb into daily life, without disrupting survival routines.
As a therapist I secretly recommended many clients stop taking the pharma chemicals their doctor prescribed, and instead use cannabis for reducing anxiety and rising above depression - and also as an insight drug of high value when approached in that spirit. In the last few years, having ended my therapy work, I'm more openly teaching mindful ways to integrate the positive dimensions of cannabis into daily life.
I'm now releasing two books, Mindfully High and Cannabis For Couples, that teach what I've experimented with and found to work well with people wanting to expand their horizons without losing their preferred lifestyles. I do feel that our society needs to blow its mind clear of old programmings and fears and attitudes that lead to pollution, greed, over-population, violence, and so forth and so on ... and cannabis is probably the very best general treatment for our ingrained habits that are generating our global dilemma.
If this theme interests you, check out for more info - and also check out the super app my tech team has built, delivering audio guidance on many themes related to my non-ficgtion books and personality-growth programs. And check out the books at the bottom of this page, and my Amazon list of available titles.