Mindfulness has been having a moment — and for good reason — but exactly what it is, and how one engages in the practice can be a bit vague. Mindfulness is similar to meditation, but it’s meant to be practiced continuously; it’s a way to bring yourself back into the present moment, and helps you avoid missing the little things that make life great. It's not surprising that hundreds of books have popped up helping to explain exactly how to be more mindful. Here, we point out a few good ones:
This short 134-page book on mindfulness is the perfect entry point into the practice. It’s a relatively quick read that offers a better understanding of how being mindful can help you ease stress and find more peace. We love that this book gives you just enough to get started, but not so much information that it feels overwhelming. Don’t be surprised if you’re inspired to dig more into the science and practice of mindfulness after reading this book.
The Mindful Day: Practical Ways to Find Focus, Calm, and Joy From Morning to Evening by Laurie J. Cameron
Now that you have a better grasp on mindfulness basics and have hopefully experimented a bit, it's time to go more in-depth — that's where this book comes in. It digs into the neuroscience that explains why and how mindfulness works, then offers tips for integrating simple practices into everyday life. Cameron emphasizes that mindfulness should become part of your daily life, allowing you to stick to your to-do list while feeling more centered.
Some of us just need the For Dummies series to break down ideas like mindfulness in a way that feels a little more practical, and Shamash Alidina does just that. This book is a great starting point if you want to explore practical how-tos while also getting into the science of mindfulness. If you want to learn about more specific practices like breath work, this ultra-practical guide is a good place to begin.
A sneakier approach to mindfulness is to take routines that are already part of your everyday — making coffee, taking an afternoon walk, or brushing your teeth — and turn them into mindfulness rituals. Author Casper ter Kuile, a Harvard Divinity School fellow and co-host of the popular Harry Potter and the Sacred Text podcast, explains how even the most mundane tasks help center us and provide a sense of purpose. He argues that while many people have moved away from traditional religious practices, there has been a shift to secular routines (like gratitude journaling, yoga, even indoor cycling) that can serve as foundations for our spiritual well-being.
Alphabreaths: The ABCs of Mindful Breathing by Christopher Willard, Daniel Rechtschaffen and Holly Clifton-Brown
Whether you want to personally become more mindful or you're hoping to introduce the practice to a child, this children's book offers a simplified approach to the practice. That's right: Sometimes the best way to learn something is to read about it in a way that even a five-year-old will understand. Plus, mindfulness-seekers of all ages will appreciate the playful breathing practices in the book. (Redwood Breath? Yes, please.)
Once you're on the mindfulness bandwagon, it's interesting to look at all the different ways the practice can impact your life. Savor: Mindful Eating, Mindful Life by world-renowned Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh and Harvard nutritionist Dr. Lilian Cheung is a fantastic guide to the practice of eating mindfully. It’s not just about an enriched enjoyment of food, but also the health benefits that go along with it. The book confronts feelings of shame or guilt around food, as well as exploring why traditional diets can be unsustainable. Then, it offers ways to use mindfulness as a guide to becoming the healthiest version of you.
If you're a runner or walker who finds the general practice of mindfulness a bit tricky to grasp, Mindful Running is one of the best books around. Havey combines a great run-training book with mindfulness research and tangible tips in a way that makes you more mindful on the run or walk. This book is more science-based and avoids anything overly spiritual that might turn off a more skeptical reader.