Anyone can practice mindfulness; simply put, it’s the act of paying attention. And the more people on the planet being mindful—which ultimately means being more compassionate, loving, and kind—the better.
Harnessing the power of mindfulness is becoming more common in the workplace, with organizations of all shapes and sizes putting a focus on it to boost employee satisfaction and productivity. But the importance of mindfulness goes far beyond making us happy employees. It’s critical for our personal happiness and well-being.
Want to enhance your mindfulness skills? Reading books on spiritual practice, mindfulness, and meditation is a powerful, DIY therapeutic method for personal growth, self-care, and self-awareness.
But, selecting the right reading material for you can be overwhelming, however, as there are a zillion titles to choose from. Here are a few handy guidelines to help you navigate the mindfulness self-help selection process.
Choose a Book for Your Level of Experience.
This is the first step in choosing a book that will resonate with you. If you’re a beginner, start with a basic guide to mindfulness. Mindfulness in Plain English is one classic that comes to mind. As the title implies, it is written in simple, user-friendly language.
If you’ve been practicing for a while already and feel you are at a more intermediate level, look for a book that is more in-depth to keep you interested and motivated to deepen your practice.
Try the time-tested method of reading the first few pages of the book’s first chapter. If you come across too many unfamiliar words that make your eyes cross, that’s a sign that the book is beyond your current level. Likewise, if it seems altogether too basic, keep looking until you find a book that hooks you from the first page.
Look closely at the table of contents, as well. The key is to make sure that the topics covered appeal to and inspire you.
Assess the Author’s Experience
Would you rather learn from a seasoned master teacher or a newbie who just hopped on the path last year? Obviously, the former! There are many fantastic spiritual authors out there with a wide range of titles to choose from. Here is a brief summary of a few of my favorites.
Vietnamese Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh has inspired millions worldwide in the practice of mindful living. He has written dozens of books, including Peace is Every Step, Taming the Tiger Within, and Living Buddha, Living Christ. All of Thich Nhat Hanh’s writings contain wonderful, gentle reminders to be present, peaceful, joyous, and kind.
American Buddhist nun Pema Chödrön offers clear, concise, friendly, and direct wisdom in her books. A great one for beginners is called How to Meditate: A Practical Guide to Making Friends with Your Mind. This relatively thin volume details techniques including working with sensations, emotions, thoughts, and more. For more advanced practitioners, consider Start Where You Are or No Time to Lose.
Jon Kabat-Zinn founded the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Massachusetts in 1979. He developed a course on Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) which removed the Buddhist framework, putting MBSR in a strictly scientific context instead. His books, from 1994’s Wherever You Go, There You Are to this year’s release, Mindfulness for All: the Wisdom to Transform the World are ideal for the secular student.
To sum up, choose timeless wisdom teachings that are at the correct level for you in this moment. Whether or not you read a famous author like those mentioned above, it’s essential to study time-tested teachings instead of flash-in-the-pan trendy ones.
Enjoy this curated list of five must-read books to boost your mindfulness game for the fast-approaching new year and decade!
- This Moment Is Full of Wonders: The Zen Calligraphy of Thich Nhat Hanh by Thich Nhat Hanh
- The Sacred Ego: Making Peace with Ourselves and Our World by Jalaja Bonheim
- A Little Book of Japanese Contentments by Erin Niimi Longhurst
- How to Meditate: A Practical Guide to Making Friends with Your Mind by Pema Chödrön
- Calm the Chaos Journal: A Daily Practice for a More Peaceful Life by Nicola Ries Taggart