Are you interested in mindfulness, but overwhelmed by all the learning choices out there? Today, there are many kinds of mindfulness practices available to us. You can discover more through books, mindfulness podcasts, apps and courses, and each has its advantages. Many people love using mindfulness and meditation apps, for example, because the teacher guides them step by step.
Books are your best path for in-depth learning about mindfulness. You can dive deep into the meaning of mindfulness practices, how they work and how people have been helped by using them in the real world with real challenges, like anxiety, depression, dissatisfaction at work, loneliness and more.
The good news about all these choices is you can find a mindfulness practice that is tailored to fit exactly what your challenges or interests are. The bad news is all these choices can make it hard for a beginner to know where to start – but don’t worry, I’m here to help!
I’ve done the hard work for you and found what I think are ten of the best books about mindfulness on the market. When you become more mindful, you become a little more present every day, a little happier and a little more able to respond well to whatever life brings your way. I've selected these mindfulness books based on different categories – such as best books for skeptics, for kids, for science-lovers, or those that want more practical mindfulness advice– so that can help you start your journey into mindfulness, whatever your position.
Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life by Jon Kabat-Zinn
I’ve included two books by Jon Kabat-Zinn in this “best of” list with good reason. Kabat-Zinn is the creator of a program used around the world called Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). It came out of his experience as a long-time student of Buddhism and as a Professor Emeritus of medicine.
Kabat-Zinn writes in a warm, down-to-earth way as he describes step by step how mindfulness can bring richness and meaning back into what you do every day: making breakfast for your family, driving to work or school, and relating to other people. And he talks about the many proven benefits of mindfulness on well-being and happiness.
Child’s Mind: Mindfulness Practices to Help Our Children Be More Focused, Calm and Relaxed by Christopher Willard
What a wonderful time for mindfulness for children! There are more studies done each year that show how simple, non-religious mindfulness practices bring all kinds of wonderful benefits to children, from more calm, to more empathy for themselves and others, to more confidence, and reduced anxiety and depression.
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My choice for best mindfulness book for adults about kids and mindfulness is Child’s Mind by Christopher Willard. This book is a lovely blend of psychology and mindfulness that delves into children’s gifts and challenges. After an excellent, short chapter on mindfulness basics, the book is divided up into different practices. Willard describes the benefits of each practice, which challenge it's best suited to (such as trouble falling asleep, for example) and steps on how to lead a child through it. The exercises like “Know Your Orange” and “Hugging Meditation” are simple, active ways for kids to gently explore mindfulness.
Sitting Still Like a Frog: Mindfulness Exercises for Kids (and Their Parents) by Eline Snel
What is mindfulness like? Well, it’s like sitting still like a frog, of course! You sit patiently and quietly, until there is something that needs your attention, and then you jump! The author creates fun and creative kid-friendly versions of basic adult mindfulness skills: like watching your worries go by on a conveyor belt, weathering the storm of emotions, and getting out of your head and into your body. The book, ideally for kids five to 12, includes a CD with guided practices that are lovingly narrated by the author.
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The Mindful Geek: Secular Meditation for Smart Skeptics by Michael W. Taft
Are you curious but skeptical about mindfulness? Do you want more proof and less promises about how mindfulness works? This entertaining book, written by a tried and true skeptic, is for you. Michael Taft went on a quest to learn about mindfulness and the result is a fact-based book on practices, how you do them and how they affect you psychologically, neurologically and behaviourally. The author walks you through each exercise, in a no-nonsense style and discusses how they've been shown to help others facing anxiety, depression, chronic stress and dissatisfaction at work.
How to Train a Wild Elephant and Other Adventures in Mindfulness: Simply Daily Mindfulness Practices for Living Life More Fully and Joyfully by Jan Chozen Bays, MD.
I love this little book and nominate it as one of the best books on mindfulness. Jan Chozen has crafted 53 mindfulness exercises like, “Every Time the Phone Rings,” “When Eating Just Eat,” “Are You Overlooking Something?” and, one of my favourites, “Say Yes.” Each chapter is short, and describes the practice itself – usually in one simple sentence. She gives you ideas on how to remind yourself to do the practice every day, and some discoveries to watch for.
“Books are your best path for in-depth learning about mindfulness. You can dive deep into the meaning of mindfulness practices, how they work and how people have been helped by using them.”
The best part of each chapter is the “Deeper Lessons.” Here Chozen Bays talks about the purpose and meaning of these deceptively simple practices. These lessons help you see how what you learn could transform your life in very real ways.
Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness by Jon Kabat-Zinn
This is the second book by Jon Kabat-Zinn that makes the best mindfulness book list for me. This inspired work is so full of understanding about living with anxiety and stress, and so full of ways mindfulness can help, I couldn’t leave it out.
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Kabat-Zinn dives in-depth into the modern pandemic of stress. He describes how far-reaching the effects of stress are, and how unaware we may be of those effects: poor sleep, poor digestion, negative chemicals saturating our brains, and an erosion of connection with ourselves and others.
He lays out the science on the mind-body connection and how mindfulness can be a powerful tool to promote physical, psychological and spiritual healing.
Mindfulness at Work: How to Avoid Stress, Achieve More, and Enjoy Life! by Dr. Stephen McKenzie
Mindfulness is a tool to make everyday living more enjoyable and meaningful – and this includes work. Most of us spend about a third of our lives at work, so when it becomes a source of stress and dissatisfaction, it can take a huge toll on our peace of mind.
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The author brings the practice of mindfulness to the most common work stresses many of us experience. You’ll learn how to improve your focus, sense of satisfaction and decision-making and, perhaps most important, your ability to have peaceful, positive relationships with work colleagues.
Practising the Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
The Power of Now is a ground-breaking classic on meditation. This follow-up book, Practising the Power of Now, takes some of the core ideas from the original and presents them in short practices you can try as you go about your day. Some practices ask you to take a few mindful minutes in a quiet place, but most offer ideas for how to explore mindfulness when you’re with other people, driving, facing a stressful situation or wanting to make a good choice in a difficult situation. Try this book to discover the power of now for yourself.
Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom by Rick Hanson
Rick Hanson is one of the best translators of mindfulness practices for beginners. He’s also a neuroscientist and an expert on the fascinating world of our minds: how they have evolved to survive, what happens in our minds and bodies when we’re being mindful instead of stressed, how we can develop lifelong habits that slowly but surely help our brains to see more of the “good,” rather than what stresses us – and much more. Hanson has a lot of science at his fingertips and he presents it in a way that’s easy to understand and applicable to your life. And he draws a map of how all this can help you become more happy, loving and wise!
The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself by Michael A. Singer
One of the best mindfulness books is The Untethered Soul. It's a rich book, heartfelt and practical at the same time. If you’re someone who is deeply curious about your inner world, about how your habitual thoughts and emotions affect you, I fully recommend this book.
The author looks at how all of us come into adulthood with a whole repertoire of thoughts and emotions that we barely question, but which govern everything we see, believe and do. Using traditional mindfulness practices he shows you how to build a loving relationship with your deepest self and to choose new a new path that will free you from sometimes lifelong patterns of suffering and unhappiness.
I hope at least one of these picks from the best books on mindfulness speaks to an interest or challenge you have right now. Try a few of them and go with the author that you feel the strongest connection with. Do they speak from experience? Do they care about you as a learner and approach mindfulness in a non-judgmental, caring way? Listen to what feels right for you and enjoy the journey of mindfulness! ●
Main image: shutterstock/Dudarev Mikhail
Which of these mindfulness books have you read or recommend? Any which would you add to the list? Share your thoughts in the comments below...
Ann Vrlak is Founder of OneSelf Meditation and a meditation practitioner for over 25 years. She’s a Certified Meditation Teacher for adults and for children (the best job ever!). She loves to share how the perspective and practice of meditation can support people with their everyday stresses and on their journey of self-discovery.
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