These days, we all hear about meditation, healthy habits, mindfulness. So, I have gathered a list of the best mindfulness books that there are out there. All of these focus on the concept of mindfulness and developing a practice, as well as for kids. But, to start, what is mindfulness?
To me, mindfulness is a state of mind, a way of living. Before I read anything about it, I used to associate the word with a full, yet empty mind. As in, you would stop your thoughts from wandering and just fill your head with…nothingness. I always thought that would be an extremely difficult task—after all, how can one free its mind from all thoughts?
Then, after reading about mindfulness, I realized it has more to do with the present moment. Thinking about absolutely nothing is nearly impossible—unless you are a secluded monk in Tibet for the last decade—so, the practice of mindfulness enables you to focus on only one thing, mainly the present time you are in. By shutting down all the unnecessary things, your mind focuses only on one thought at a time and you become…mindful.
Here is a list of 15 of the best mindfulness books, including nonfiction/how-to/self-help/memoirs that focus on mindfulness and developing its practice.
Mindfulness in Plain English was first published in 1994 and it has become a bestseller in the field of mindfulness. The author, Bhante Gunaratana, is a monk and meditation master who explains to us (in this book) the myths, realities, and benefits of meditation and the practice of mindfulness. If you’re looking for a clear guide that walks you through everything step by step, this is for you. A must-have in the best mindfulness books.
Mark G. Williams, Oxford Professor, gets together with the award-winning journalist Danny Penman to reveal the secrets to living a happier and less anxious life. This self-help book offers simple practices to dissolve anxiety, stress, exhaustion, and unhappiness, while based on the techniques of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy, the unique program developed by Williams and his colleagues.
In this book, Matthew Sockolov promises to give you practical exercises that can easily integrate mindfulness in your everyday life. Besides these exercises, the book also addresses practical advice to overcome the obstacles that may arise when you first start practicing mindfulness, such as distracting noises or the feeling of sleepiness.
The idea behind this book is very simple: living in the now is the true path to happiness. Essentially, this is a manual, a guidebook where Eckhart Tolle explains complex concepts such as the source of Chi, enlightened relationships, creative use of the mind, impermanence and the cycle of life. As a teacher, Tolle even organized this book with markers that indicate when you need to take a break to think a little about what you have read.
Yesenia Chavan addresses all beginners in this book to teach them how to use mindfulness techniques to quiet their mind and how to practice it every day in order to gain control of their lives. The author also talks about the difficulty in the beginning—when you start practicing mindfulness, your mind jumps from thought to thought and it is hard to focus and silence it. But with a few minutes of practice every day, everything can change!
Jon Kabat-Zinn is also an author that you must have on your list of best mindfulness books. He is the founder of the Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, and he helps his patients using meditation to deal with illness. In Full Catastrophe Living, Jon Kabat-Zinn presents several meditation techniques that can help you focus on a simple phrase, your breathing, or several parts of your body. Also, he talks about how hospital patients felt better despite their illnesses just due to these meditation techniques.
The Little Book of Being explores the concept of “natural awareness.” Diana Winston claims that at some point in our lives, as children, we all felt “a sense of timelessness, contentment, and ease.” In this book, she invites you to explore the spectrum of awareness practices—from focused mindfulness to flexible mindfulness to natural awareness—in a practical guide with 72 mini-chapters.
Have you ever heard of Headspace? It is a digital health platform that provides guided meditation sessions for its users, and it was founded by the former Buddhist monk Andy Puddicombe. With this book (along with the platform), the author is determined to “get people to take 10 minutes out of their day to sit in the here and now.” The clear advantages of these books include being accessible and portable, so you can take it everywhere you go and start practicing, practicing, practicing!
Thich Nhat Hạnh is a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, teacher, author, poet, and peace activist highly known for his books on mindfulness and meditation. In this book, he introduces us to the practice of mindfulness through gentle anecdotes and practical exercises. For him, the smallest moments in your everyday life offer you an opportunity to be awake and fully aware, thus leading you to peace and self-improvement.
In this book, Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and the weekend editions of Good Morning America, embarks on a journey through meditation. The reason? A nationally televised panic attack. You heard it, Dan Harris had a panic attack live on television and decided something had to change in his life. That was when he acknowledged the major source of all of this—the incessant voice in his head. We all know it, and how sometimes it can make things worse. This book is all about Dan’s adventures discovering the worlds of spirituality and self-help.
Alongside the best mindfulness books, I also took the liberty of choosing some mindfulness books for kids. It seems this is a more and more recurring theme these days, and of course, it expanded to kids. Indeed, with the stressful lives we lead nowadays, and with children being more and more absorbed in screens, it is important to teach them how to switch off.
This is a picture book that helps both children and grownups to feel grounded and restored. With Susan Verde’s gentle narration and Peter H. Reynolds’s watercolor illustrations, you can approach topics with kids such as expressing emotions through direct speech, finding empathy through imagination, connecting with the earth, or just breathe, taste, smell, touch and be present.
In What Does It Mean to Be Present, Rana DiOrio explores the concept of being present with illustrations. By watching a group of friends at school, at home, and at the beach, children can get a better understanding of many experiences like noticing when someone needs help, listening to the rain outside, smelling the seaweed, or tasting an orange.
In this picture book, Gabi Garcia helps kids understand the connection between their sensations and feelings. Here, the author combines a story with simple experiential activities that guide children through “the process of noticing and naming their feelings and the physical sensations.” By learning to do this, hopefully, kids will get better at figuring out what they need.
Again, Thich Nhat Hanh appears to talk about mindfulness. In this children’s book, the author introduces us to pebble meditation, a groundbreaking and unique technique to introduce children to the calming practice of meditation. Whether practicing it alone or with the family, this technique can help relieve stress, increase concentration, nourish gratitude, and help children deal with difficult emotions.
For ages 5–12, this children’s book offers simple mindfulness practices to help your child deal with anxiety, become more focused, fall asleep more easily, manage anger, and generally become more patient and aware. Along with short examples and anecdotes, this book also comes with a 60-minute audio CD of guided exercises read by Myla Kabat-Zinn (Jon Kabat-Zinn’s wife).