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What are the best mindfulness books?
What books will help you find peace, enlightenment, and a better way of living? What is mindfulness?
These are questions many people have when they hear how books on mindfulness can change their lives for the better.
Just in case you are new to mindful living, let’s quickly go over the last question first.
What is mindfulness? When you strip away religious and metaphysical trappings that sometimes surround the concept of mindfulness, you find that mindfulness is simply using extreme focus to pay attention to a single thing.
You can be mindful of just about anything that matters. That is why you may have heard about so many types of mindfulness:
Mindful walking. The list goes on and on.
The reason it matters is because of what you notice (and figure out) when you are being mindful. People rarely spend time listening to what other people are saying, much less really being mindful about the things in their lives.
When you approach things in a mindful matter, a whole new universe opens up. A good example is simply being outside. When you are outside, chances are you are going somewhere, and your mind is filled with the things you want to do when you get there.
But if you are resting outside, thinking mindfully, you will notice the breeze on your skin, the sun on your face, the shapes of clouds, the way the elements interact, and the joy of the children playing across the street.
Being mindful can open up a new world that is always there, but that we may not always have time for.
Below is my list of the best mindfulness books. These books on mindfulness will not make you a guru, but should give you a great understanding of what mindfulness means, and how to achieve it.
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20 Best Mindfulness Books to Help You Find Peace in a Crazy World
1. Make Peace With Your Mind: How Mindfulness and Compassion Can Free You From Your Inner Critic by Mark Coleman
In this book, the author makes the argument that everyone has an inner critic in their mind that reminds them that they are never quite “good enough.” Because of these thoughts, people often second-guess their actions and doubt their value as people. This voice inside everyone's head feels overpowering, but people can learn to manage it.
Mark Coleman is a meditation teacher and therapist who helps his readers release themselves from their inner critics through the use of mindfulness and compassion. In each chapter, Coleman gives the reader an understanding of what creates and quiets the critic. He offers stories of real people to help guide the reader, and teaches simple practices that anyone can use to help find peace in their lives.
This book is written in an engaging and informal style that allows a serious topic to be approached in an easygoing way. One of the best things about this book is that the author really practices what he preaches. He has true self-respect, and it may be surprising to some that his mind was once very critical. He offers himself as a great example of what the book is about, and that making peace with your mind will work if you apply what you learn in the book to your own life.
2. Declutter Your Mind: How to Stop Worrying, Relieve Anxiety, and Eliminate Negative Thinking by SJ Scott and Barrie Davenport
This is actually one of my books, but I humbly believe it belongs on this list. This book has been a consistent bestseller in mindfulness for over six months. It has sold tens of thousands of copies and generated hundreds of positive reviews, such as the one below.
“Man, I wish I had this book decades ago—literally would have saved me a lot of grief. This isn't some New Agey woo-woo book about just being mindful and living in the present moment. It's actually jam-packed with things to DO: tactics, tricks, exercises that you can use to strengthen your mental “now” muscle. We feel guilt or regret when we live in the past; we feel anxiety or stress when we're living in the future. This book will help you to realize that the time is always NOW.”
3. Cure: A Journey Into the Science of Mind Over Body by Jo Marchant
This book offers the reader a cautious investigation into how the brain can help heal the body. It also addresses how brains that are damaged by stress may make the body more susceptible to illness and accelerated aging.
People easily accept that stress and anxiety can damage one's overall health, but rarely consider the idea of healing thoughts. This book addresses evidence that one's thoughts, emotions, and beliefs can stop or reverse the damage that has been done to the body.
In this book, award-winning science writer Jo Marchant goes around the world to talk to doctors, patients, and researchers about this new idea of healing. The reader learns how meditation can help protect against diseases such as depression and dementia, how social connections improve one's health, and how patients who have a support system can recover from surgery faster than those who do not.
The author uses specific real-life stories, such as one about a transplant patient who uses the scent of lavender to relieve his immune system, and another about an Olympic runner who is able to improve his performance through positive thinking.
This is a great book for people who do not have faith in the placebo effect. The content is interesting and enlightening, offering ideas for managing chronic illness and other areas of health. The author goes into great depth in her research, and is honest about her own initial skepticism about the topic. Using both clarity and compassion, the author teaches the reader about a system of medicine that treats people holistically.
4. Full Catastrophe Living (Revised Edition): Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness by Jon Kabat-Zinn
This landmark work on mindfulness, meditation, and healing is now revised and updated after 25 years. This book, written by the founder of the Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, is based on author Kabat-Zinn’s well-known mindfulness-based stress reduction program. The reader will learn how to use meditation-based mind-body approaches to reduce stress, establish a greater balance between the body and the mind, and encourage healing.
The mindfulness practices offered in this book are meant to be integrated into the reader's life to help manage chronic pain, promote healing, reduce anxiety, and improve one's quality of life and relationships. This book includes results from studies into the science of mindfulness, and recent statistics about the practice.
This book is written for people of any age who are looking to live a healthier and more peaceful life. It is especially great for those who are interested in the Mindfulness Stress Reduction Program. It provides a thorough explanation of the program that is easy to understand. The writing is succinct, making the entire book relevant and revealing.
5. The Miracle of Mindfulness: An Introduction to the Practice of Meditation by Thich Nhat Hanh
In this guide, Thich Nhat Hanh offers the reader stories and practical exercises to help teach the skills of mindfulness. This is one of Hanh's most popular books because it is an interesting read that is about how to take hold of one's consciousness and teach you to live in the present reality, no matter how mundane the task at hand is.
Even if you are just washing the dishes or eating a snack, the author shows how the meditative mind can be achieved all the time, and how it can help people heal.
This book is written very sincerely, and includes useful, literal steps to guide the reader through introspection. The author uses simple words to explain the concept of mindfulness. This book is especially great for people who are new to the practice.
6. The Now Effect: How a Mindful Moment Can Change the Rest of Your Life by Elisha Goldstein Ph.D
The Now Effect aims to help the reader alleviate stress, let go of emotional burdens, find a healthy mindset, and ease pain using cutting-edge mindfulness techniques. Dr. Goldstein offers the reader techniques to help connect to the present moment, relieve anxiety, and increase focus. This book also helps people learn how to feel empathy and approach problems in their lives with grace.
The advice in this book is able to make deep, permanent life changes that allow the reader be present in their lives and connect with the positive things that matter. This book essentially teaches how the present moment can change the rest of one's life.
Readers have found this book to be a very practical introduction to the benefits of mindfulness. The author offers a simple and clearly understandable presentation using practical methods to give the reader immediate benefit. Dr. Goldstein consistently makes the reader feel welcome in this book with his emphasis on the importance of self-care and respect for oneself. This is a great book for both novice and advanced mindfulness practitioners.
7. 10-Minute Mindfulness: 71 Habits for Living in the Present Moment by SJ Scott and Barrie Davenport
This is another book on mindfulness that I co-authored with my writing partner Barrie Davenport. Rather than teaching you mindfulness in its entirety, like every other mindfulness book out there, this book presents a number habits you can use to achieve mindfulness.
It includes a total of 71 habits, which you can incorporate into your life to achieve more mindfulness. Most of us are pressed for time, and mindfulness takes time, so this list is limited to fairly “short” habits.
It is not intended for readers to do all 71 habits at once. This is more of a “menu” of mindfulness choices, so you can pick the right three of mindfulness habits for you and bring them into your life.
8. The Mindful Way Workbook: An 8-Week Program to Free Yourself from Depression and Emotional Distress by John D. Teasdale Ph.D., J. Mark G. Williams DPhil, Zindel V. Segal Ph.D., Jon Kabat-Zinn Ph.D. (Foreword)
This book works through an eight-week program to help users beat depression, anxiety, and stress by learning helpful ways to respond to their own thoughts and feelings. This mindfulness-based cognitive therapy program has proven itself to be effective in clinical trials worldwide.
This book allows the user to get the benefits of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy at any time and in any place by working through the guide. The authors introduce the reader to specific mindfulness practices to focus on each week, in addition to offering questions for reflection and tools to help keep track of progress. This is a great step-by-step guide on a path toward change. Many readers have found this program to be life-changing.
9. The Worry Trick: How Your Brain Tricks You Into Expecting the Worst and What You Can Do About It by David A Carbonell PhD
This might be the right book for you if you suffer from anxiety. In The Worry Trick, anxiety expert David Carbonell shows the reader how anxiety can take over the brain, and offers techniques to help break the worry cycle once and for all.
This book is based on acceptance and commitment therapy, as well as cognitive behavioral therapy to help the reader stop questioning their decisions and constantly worrying about the future. The techniques used in this book show the reader how to recognize their anxious thoughts, and teaches then how avoiding these thoughts can backfire and even make anxiety worse.
The book explains a natural function of the brain, which is to seek out danger so it can be avoided. While genetics and training impact the severity of one's anxiety, it is important to learn how to accept the natural feeling without giving into it.
Readers like this book because it frees up a lot of space in one's mind to live and enjoy, rather than obsessively trying to gain perfect mind control. It is written in an approachable manner by a well-informed professional who is able to easily gain the reader's trust.
10. Unfu*k Yourself: Get Out of Your Head and Into Your Life by Gary John Bishop
This refreshing book is a self-empowerment guide that offers the reader an honest tough-love approach to overcoming self-imposed limitations. This is a straightforward book that provides the tools and advice that people need in order to get rid of the thoughts that prevent progress. The author urges the reader to understand that it is their own negative self-talk that is keeping them from succeeding.
Readers come away from this book understanding that they are able to win, that they can embrace uncertainty and let go of expectations, and that they do not have to be controlled by their thoughts.
Many have found that this is a great book to read if you are stuck in a rut. It lays out clear steps to help change one's life, and provides the reader with the motivation that is needed to make habit changes and achieve goals.
11. The Mindful Way Through Depression: Freeing Yourself From Chronic Unhappiness by Mark Williams
This is a useful book for anyone who has struggled with depression. It focuses on mindfulness as a simple but powerful tool to help people learn how to pay attention to their difficult experiences and emotions. Williams argues that people can break the cycle of depression by learning mindfulness.
The Mindful Way Through Depression offers the advice of four uniquely qualified experts to help the reader understand why attempts to snap out of depression typically lead to a downward spiral. This book includes lessons inspired by Eastern meditative traditions as well as cognitive therapy to demonstrate how to avoid mental habits that lead to depression, such as rumination and shame.
This book comes with a CD that is narrated by Jon Kabat-Zinn to guide the reader through meditations. This complete package is meant for anyone who is seeking to regain their sense of hope and comfort. While this book will not solve all of a reader's problems, it will provide the reader with the necessary guidance to help them deal with their depression and prevent a downward spiral.
12. The Unlimited Mind: Master Critical Thinking, Make Smarter Decisions, Control Your Impulses by Zoey Mckey
This book is great for people who are constantly nervous about making bad decisions or missing great opportunities. It aims to teach the reader the methods of the best thinkers and highest achievers. The Unlimited Mind is a collection of all of the tips and tricks that the most successful people use to develop their intelligence.
This book is about learning how to think smarter and find one's inner genius. It includes research and scientific studies about making smart decisions and improving one's intuition. It focuses on people's everyday thought patterns, and highlights small but serious mistakes that can be corrected.
Readers appreciate how this book details the personal experiences of the author, as well as some of the most well-known studies in cognitive improvement to demonstrate the way to improved critical thinking, decision-making, and judgment. While some people find that the book uses a few too many clichés, most really like the tone and presentation. The book presents a self-improvement message of taking control of your mindset and your life to see the results that you want.
Specific-Purpose Books on Mindfulness
This list is a little bit different from many of my other book review lists, because of the way I separated it into two parts. There is nothing wrong with the books in the second part. In fact, they may have just the answers you are looking for from books on mindfulness.
Each one of the remaining books focuses on using mindfulness to help a specific group of people, or focuses on using mindfulness to solve specific problems. We have mindfulness for 20-somethings, relationships, meditation, money, eating, parenting, cognitive therapy, and children.
13. The Mindful Twenty-Something: Life Skills to Handle Stress…and Everything Else by Holly Rogers
The co-founder of the popular Koru Mindfulness program at Duke University uses this book to present the reader with a unique and evidence-based approach to making confident life decisions. Many young adults feel stress and vulnerability during this developmental stage, when they are faced with critical decisions that can have a long-term impact on their lives.
This evidence-based mindfulness training program for young adults has been proven to benefit sleep, stress, and self-compassion. Through this book, the program is accessible to everyone who is entering adulthood and feeling its stress.
Readers have found this book to be a useful tool that is easy to read. With the approach that is taken in this book, readers are able to cultivate skills such as compassion and mindfulness that are necessary to manage life’s challenges in a calm way.
14. Mindful Relationship Habits: 25 Practices for Couples to Enhance Intimacy, Nurture Closeness, and Grow a Deeper Connection by Steve Scott and Barrie Davenport
This is the newest book from my partner Barrie and me. It deals with a specific group of people (couples) who are trying to solve a specific problem (relationship problems), or are looking for ways to make strong relationships stronger by using mindfulness.
If you are in a committed relationship and interested in how mindfulness can help you, I hope you give this book a chance.
15. Mindfulness for Beginners: A Simple, Concise & Complete Guide to Mindfulness Meditation by Jeff Halloway
This book combines the science behind mindfulness with easy exercises to allow the reader to make a lasting positive change. The author teaches about the form of awareness and way of life that mindfulness embraces to help readers become free from stress. After reading this book, the reader will be more aware of the science of mindfulness, how practicing mindfulness can calm the mind, how to become hyper-aware, how to practice mindful meditation, and how mindfulness can benefit one's life.
This book also includes information that is specifically for people who are suffering from anxiety. In this section, the book uses developments in neuroscience to help the reader rewire their brain and free themselves from anxiety and panic attacks.
Readers have found this to be a very interesting book. It is well written, and it provides clear instructions on how to practice meditation techniques. This book has encouraged many skeptics to start practicing mindfulness and stick with it.
16. Mindful Money: Simple Practices for Reaching Your Financial Goals and Increasing Your Happiness Dividend by Jonathan K. DeYoe
The author of this book is both a financial planner and a Buddhist. He argues that it is possible to be a conscientious citizen while also growing wealth. DeYoe states that money drives many decisions that people make. Most people worry about money in some way, whether it is about earning it, spending it, or saving it. However, very few people truly understand money’s nature.
In this book, DeYoe helps the reader create a unique financial plan that is guided by one's beliefs. It helps teach people how to save money, invest it, get out of debt, and save for retirement.
Many readers believe that this book should be required reading for young adults. It really addresses how to live in comfort in this world, and how managing money and other resources is mandatory. The author's Buddhist approach is useful and applicable to the world around us.
17. The Mindfulness-Based Eating Solution: Proven Strategies to End Overeating, Satisfy Your Hunger, and Savor Your Life by Lynn Rossy, PhD
This book asks what people are really hungry for. The author is a mindfulness expert, and offers an effective, whole-body approach to uncovering the real reasons why people are overeating.
In The Mindfulness-Based Eating Solution, the reader is offered an innovative and effective program to help slow down the process of eating, savor every bite, and eat less. This book is encouraging for anyone who wants to adopt healthy eating habits by showing the reader how to listen to the body’s intuition, discover the psychological causes of your overeating, and be mindful during meals.
Many people find themselves eating without thinking, due to boredom or sadness. But emotional eating is a slippery slope that can lead to obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
The program that is offered in this book teaches the reader how to listen to the needs of the body in order to stay happy and healthy, without having to go on a strict diet. This is a great book if you want to lose weight while still being able to enjoy food. It offers easy strategies that anyone can incorporate into their daily routines.
18. Mindful Parenting: Simple and Powerful Solutions for Raising Creative, Engaged, Happy Kids in Today’s Hectic World by Kristen Race PhD
This book is aimed towards parents who are looking to adopt a mindful approach to parenting that will help their children be happier, healthier, calmer, and less stressed out.
This book focuses on the science of the brain, and uses cognitive neuroscience to help explain child development. In this book, Dr. Race refers to our generation as “Generation Stress,” which can be helped with mindfulness practices that stimulate the prefrontal cortex of the brain, helping people feel happier, healthier, calmer, and less stressed, and have the ability to concentrate and think clearly.
This book addresses how the brain works, and why families today are more stressed and anxious than ever before. He offers solutions to this problem through examples of things that parents can do to teach their brains to be more relaxed and happier.
He offers quick tips called “brain coolers” to be used at any moment a family needs to feel relaxed and recharge. Readers have found that the author does a good job of understanding the reality of raising children in the modern world, and that the solutions he offers are both reasonable and easy to use.
19. Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy For Dummies by Patrizia Collard
This book takes the reader through an eight-week mindfulness-based cognitive therapy course, using cognitive behavioral therapy alongside the principles of mindfulness. The reader will learn how using mindfulness-based cognitive therapy can reduce one's risk of developing depression and other mental health problems, such as stress and anxiety.
Readers have found that this book provides the solid foundation that people need when they are on the road to positive mental health. It comes with downloadable audio files that have guided meditations to talk the reader through the practice.
This might be the right book for you if you suffer from depression, anxiety, insomnia, or other mental health disorders. This book helps to keep the reader in the present moment and build a positive future.
20. Mindful Games: Sharing Mindfulness and Meditation With Children, Teens, and Families by Susan Kaiser Greenland
This book offers a playful approach to mindfulness to children. It contains 60 games to help children develop their attention and focus skills while also learning how to identify their emotions.
The author has found that playing games is an effective way for children to develop their attention skills and become more mindful. She is a successful mindfulness teacher, and offers her experiences in this book. She shows how parents and teachers can develop mindfulness qualities at home and at school.
Readers have found that this book offers a playful way to introduce kids to breathing practices for developing their focus, concentration, sensory awareness, and other skills.
Some of the games include “anchor” games to help cultivate concentration, visualization games to encourage kindness, analytical games to help children think clearly, and awareness games that help children learn how to manage relationships.
While the games in this book are written for children, they can also be used for adults. The author encourages parents to develop their own skills. She teaches the reader that a parent's mindfulness has a powerful effect on everyone around them, especially children. Children notice when parents are calmer, composed, and joyful, and learn by the example that their parents set.
Share Your Thoughts on Mindfulness and Mindfulness Books
Have you read any books on mindfulness? Were they books on this list? How did you like them? What positives did you take away? Please share your thoughts on mindfulness books and what you think about practicing mindfulness in the comments section below.
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