Mindfulness is a topic that has garnered an enormous amount of attention in the past decade, and deservedly so.
In the past, it used to be considered a “soft skill.” Now, it is considered an essential component of overall health care.
There’s even been a rising trend among physicians to prescribe mindfulness activities like outdoor play and meditation to treat conditions like depression, anxiety, loneliness, and burnout.
Mindfulness techniques like meditation are among some of the fastest growing trends in the United States, with the number of people who meditate increasing three-fold from 2012 to 2017.
Simply put, mindfulness is a big deal. In this article, we’ll dive into the best mindfulness books out there so that you can explore this topic in detail from people who are much smarter than me.
What Is Mindfulness?
Before diving into the best books on mindfulness, let’s talk a little bit about what mindfulness actually is.
Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present and aware of where we are and what we’re doing, without becoming overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.
Whenever you bring attention to what you are directly experiencing through your senses or your state of mind, you are being mindful.
Mindfulness is essentially just blocking out all of the chatter that echoes constantly in the back of our minds and being fully engaged in whatever we are doing — whether it’s washing the dishes or working on a presentation.
Studies have shown that when you regularly engage in mindfulness practice, you are actually remodeling the physical structure of our brain.
Is Mindfulness Or Meditation Better?
Just one more quick point here before we get into the best books on mindfulness:)
These words are often lumped in together, but there is a difference between mindfulness and meditation.
Meditation usually refers to a formal, seated meditation practice. There are many different kinds of meditation that emphasize different things — practicing self-love, expanding your heart, calming your mind, etc.
Meditation is an intentional practice. Depending on which type of meditation you decide to engage in, there is a specific goal that you are looking to achieve.
Mindfulness is slightly different
Mindfulness is the simply the act of being fully present and engaged in whatever you are doing.
This means that it can be practiced anytime, anywhere, with anybody. You can literally be standing in line waiting to order food and practice mindfulness.
There’s no specific focus or goal, you are just accepting whatever feelings and sensations come your way without getting lost in your thoughts.
In terms of which one is better, there is no right answer. Both are beneficial and both should be practiced, you don’t need to choose one or the other.
This list will include books that cover both topics, so feel free pick the ones that sound most interesting to you.
13 Best Books on Mindfulness
Without further ado, let’s get into the best books on mindfulness that you can pick up and start reading today.
There will be some variation in the topics covered by each of these books. Some will cover the topic of mindfulness as a whole, while others will cover specific mindfulness techniques, such as meditation, more extensively.
Whatever your cup of tea is, there’s a book for you on this list.
#1 – Mindfulness for Beginners: A Simple Concise & Complete Guide to Mindfulness Meditation” by Jeffrey Holloway
Jeffrey Holloway’s book is a perfect introductory book for people just getting started with mindfulness.
It’s a perfect balance of theory and real-life application — dipping its toes into the science of mindfulness while also giving away practical techniques that you can implement into your own life immediately.
Holloway talks extensively about how he used mindfulness as a way to combat his debilitating anxiety. So if you struggle with anxiety and want to learn more about mindfulness this book may be perfect you.
#2 – The Power of Now By Eckhart Tolle
If you’re going to talk about the best mindfulness books ever written, it’s only fair to pay homage to Eckhart Tolle.
When the Power of Now was released in 2004, it took the world by storm. Prominent celebrities, most notably Oprah Winfrey, championed the book and the lessons that could be learned throughout.
Tolle’s central point in the book is this — everything is in the now. The key to living a fulfilling life is to treasure each moment that you experience. Because at the end of the day, it’s all you have.
Tolle’s compassionate language and insightful commentary make this book well worth the read no matter what you are trying to accomplish in life.
#3 – 10% Happier By Dan Harris
After having a live panic attack on national television, Dan Harris knew something needed to change. After his journey that involved rubbing elbows with a collection of brain scientists, a disgraced pastor, and a mysterious self-help guru, Harris realized that the source of his problems was the incessant voice in his head.
We all deal with this voice. The one that tells us we’re not good enough, that we don’t deserve happiness, or that we shouldn’t take risks.
In the book, Harris talks about how he’s been able to calm this voice through meditation. Meditation is one of the best ways to practice mindfulness, but many people are unaware of just how many real-world benefits that meditation provides.
This is a great book for anyone who already meditates regularly or is just curious about the various benefits that meditation can have on your life.
#4 – Waking Up By Sam Harris
Sam Harris is one of my favorite people to listen to. His words are carefully chosen and deeply profound, and the words in this book are no different.
Sam’s book is slightly more difficult to read than Dan’s. If you’re just curious about the basic tenets of mindfulness I’d stay away from this book.
However, if you already have a solid grasp on what mindfulness is and how to apply it, this book will deepen your understanding even further.
Sam explains that our concept of who we are (our self-image) is false, and leads us down the path of making wrong decisions that don’t align with our true identity. By practicing mindfulness and meditation, we can “wake up” from this state and start acting in a way that is consistent with who we really are.
This is a fantastic read.
#5 — Think Like a Monk by Jay Shetty
Jay Shetty is a former monk who has become one of the most influential motivational speakers in the world today.
In this book, Shetty shares the wealth of knowledge he was able to acquire as a monk and simplifies into practical advice that anyone can follow in order to live a less anxious, more meaningful life.
Jay uses anecdotes from his own journey and combines that with wisdom from ancient texts. He translates these ancient concepts into sound advice that can be used to stay focused on your purpose in a world full of noise.
#6 — You Are Not Your Brain by Jeffrey Schwartz & Rebecca Glading
In case you needed a reminder — your brain is often trying to hold you back from reaching your full potential.
Schwartz and Glading’s book is not just one of the best books on mindfulness, it also provides insight as to why your brain acts as your greatest enemy.
This book explores how your brain deceives you into believing things that negatively impact your self-image. More importantly, Schwartz and Glading show you how to overcome this faulty wiring and focus your attention elsewhere.
If you want to better understand how the mind works this is a perfect book to get your hands on.
#7 – Savor: Mindful Eating, Mindful Life by Thich Nhat Hanh & Dr. Lilian Cheung
Can mindfulness really help you lose weight? Well, Cheung and Hanh make a fairly compelling case in their awesome work titled, “Savor.”
Equipped with the latest research surrounding the best ways to eat and exercise, this book offers a holistic approach for improving your physical and spiritual well-being.
Many times, we don’t eat because we want to or need to — we eat because we are simply looking for something to do. We want to be distracted. We want a quick dopamine hit that will help us escape from the present moment.
This book will help you understand the flaws in your current eating habits and give you a proven roadmap to correct them using proven mindfulness techniques.
#8 – Meditation For Fidgety Skeptics by Dan Harris
Yep, I know. Another Dan Harris Book.
This is one for all of the skeptics out there! If you don’t believe in the life changing impact that meditation can have on your life, then you owe it to yourself to be open-minded and pick up a copy of this book.
Despite being one of the most prominent supporters of meditation today, Dan Harris is a former-skeptic himself. However, as he started to realize the benefits outlined in his book 10% Happier, it became impossible for him to overlook the fact that meditation had changed his life.
Along with his co-authors, Jeff Warren and Carlye Adler, he lays out practical mindfulness techniques that anyone can implement into their daily life. No matter how busy or skeptical they are.
#9 – The Confidence Gap by Russ Harris
I know what you’re probably thinking…
This doesn’t sound like a mindfulness book, what the hell is it doing on this list? Also, another book by an author whose last name is Harris?
The title of this book suggests that its main focus is teaching people how to improve self-confidence, which is 100% accurate.
However, one of the main lessons that Russ Harris stresses in the book in that in order to be confident, you must first be fully engaged and present in whatever you are doing.
It’s difficult to feel confident doing anything while you are simultaneously ruminating about the past or agonizing about the future.
Harris emphasizes that the first step to improving self-confidence and boosting your self-esteem is to embrace and accept your thoughts for what they are — which are usually just annoying distractions.
More importantly, he teaches you various mindfulness exercises that will help you calm your inner chatter and start acting in alignment with who you actually are.
Even though the focus of this self-improvement book is not necessarily mindfulness, it turns out to be one of the best books on the subject that I’ve come across.
# 10 – Make Peace With Your Mind by Mark Coleman
Continuing with our list of the best mindfulness books, this is a wonderful book for anyone who struggles who quiet their inner critic.
Every one of us has that voice that constantly tells us we are never quite good enough.
Unfortunately, you will never quite be able to turn that voice off. Although, you can reduce the impact that it has on your life.
Mark Coleman is a meditation teacher and therapist with extensive experience helping people release themselves from their inner critic through mindfulness and compassion.
In other words, he’s the perfect person to learn from when it comes to eliminating self-defeating mental chatter.
The true motivational stories of his clients, combined with the simple writing style of this book make it a great read for anyone remotely interested in practicing mindfulness.
#11 – 10 Minute Mindfulness: 71 Habits for Living in the Present Moment by SJ Scott
SJ Scott is mostly known for his books on habits, so it’s only fitting that he would write a book that centers around habits for mindfulness.
One thing about Scott’s books that I really enjoy are how “straight to the point” they are. Scott writes his books in a way that includes very little fluff, as most of the text centers around actionable advice that you can implement immediately.
This book contains a fantastic collection of daily habits that will help you achieve greater self-awareness and improve your peace of mind.
At the end of the day, your life comes to your ability to stick to your daily habits, and Scott’s book shows you how to make mindfulness a priority in your life by spending less than 10 minutes per day.
If you don’t care too much about the theory and science of mindfulness and just want actionable advice, this is one of the best mindfulness books you can delve into.
#12 – Mindfulness: An Eight-Week Plan for Finding Peace in a Frantic World by Mark Williams and Danny Penman
There are many books out there that offer profound insight into the subject of mindfulness, but there are only a select few that give you a step-by-step plan for achieving it.
This classic from Mark Williams Danny Penman is one of those books.
These two people are at the forefront of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (jeez that’s a mouthful)
Their eight-week plan is simple and easy to follow, incorporating basic but effective mindfulness practices to help you combat whatever it is you’re feeling — anxiety, depression, loneliness, regret, etc.
For people who are experienced at practicing mindfulness, this might not be the best book for you.
However, if you’re fairly new to the concept of mindfulness, and are looking for someone to hold your hand then this is the book for you.
#13 – Mindfulness in Plain English By Henepola Gunaratana
Alright, we’ve made it to the last book on our list of the best mindfulness books!
Last, but certainly not least, we have a book that was first published in 1994 that is one of the best-sellers in the field of mindfulness.
The book is written by Henepola Gunaratana, who is a practicing monk and a master of meditation.
As someone who meditates consistently, I found this book incredibly useful because it re-arranged some of my previously held beliefs about what meditation is, and what it isn’t.
Although it is a little dated in terms of when it was written, the concepts discussed are timeless.
If you’re looking for that one book that covers everything you want to know about meditation and mindfulness, then you should grab a copy immediately.
Well, there you have it. That concludes the list of the best mindfulness books that you can find out there today.
Whether you’re a beginner who is just being introduced to the concept of mindfulness, or a seasoned pro who practices mindfulness daily, there’s a book for you on this list.
A decade ago, mindfulness was looked upon as a fad. Now, it’s a staple of the many personal development tools out there
Countless celebrities and high-achievers like Oprah Winfrey and Ariana Huffington swear by the impact that mindfulness and meditation have had on their life.
I’ve been meditating and practicing mindfulness myself for over a year. I can tell you first-hand that the impacts are real if you have the persistence to stick with it over a long period of time.
Take advantage of these recommendations and start expanding your knowledge about one of the most important topics in the personal development world today.