7 Best Mindfulness Books to Live in the Present
Updated on 07 Jul 2023 • 6 min read
In the fast-paced world we live in today, our minds rarely seem to be in the present. When you really think about it, we live a lot of life in the future or in the past, worrying about what’s already happened, or worrying about what’s going to happen. We find ourselves ruminating on things we cannot change and are left unable to fully engage with life, missing out on the present. So what can you do to savor the here and now? The answer is mindfulness.
What is Mindfulness
Mindfulness is the practice of being aware of the present and living in the now, without judgment or distraction. By changing your mindset and practicing meditation you can unlock the power to focus on the moment rather than be stuck in the past or the future, lost in time and hence losing time. Mindfulness allows us to be aware of what we need to let go of in order to enjoy what we have in front of us.
The Benefits of Mindfulness
By cultivating a positive and fulfilling mindset, you can transform your life, influence overall well-being and unlock your full potential.
Here are three key benefits of mindfulness:
Improve physical health. Mindfulness has been shown to lower blood pressure, reduce chronic pain, and boost the immune system.
Reduced anxiety and depression. By focusing on the present moment and learning to let go of negative thoughts, mindfulness can alleviate feelings of anxiety and depression.
Better emotional state. By becoming more aware of yourself and emotions you can develop better control over them and handle stressful situations more effectively. Additionally, it is leading to a greater sense of self-awareness and personal growth.
Practicing mindfulness can help you achieve all of these benefits and more. But with so much information out there, it can be hard to know where to start. That's where mindfulness books come in)
Check out some of the best books on mindfulness to help guide you on your journey!
7 Best Mindfulness Books
Mindfulness for Beginners, Jon Kabat-Zinn
Mindfulness for Beginners is written by one of the rockstars of mindfulness itself, Dr Jon Kabat-Zinn. If you’re new to the practice or perhaps just looking to explore it a bit more, this is the book for you. It is well written, short, and easy to digest, with the first half talking about what mindfulness is, explaining the connect and validating from a scientific perspective. The second part gives you exercises to practice, with simple, guided meditations that are easy to follow.
It is a simple and yet powerful introduction to mindfulness and meditation, and cuts through the fluff you might find in other guides. Like when Kabat-Zinn explains what mindfulness isn’t:
"Those who try to pick up meditation thinking they will be like the Dali Lama might as well stop. They have no chance of pulling that off.”
A mindfulness book can often veer into vague and obscure territory, so it’s refreshing to be grounded in a degree of directness that leaves us with a realistic expectation, and achievable goals.
The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment, Eckhart Tolle
The Power of Now is a quick, easy to understand read that can really help change your life.
On living in the present and gaining spiritual enlightenment, The Power of Now provides a simple, yet effective message: living in the present is the purest way to true happiness and an enlightened sense of being. The author, Eckhart Tolle explains how for most people, everything they do in their lives is driven by time: we put ourselves on schedules, make sure we’re at a particular place by a certain time, and it’s the first thing we check when we wake. In this mindset, we set ourselves up to worry about something that happened in the past or something that could potentially happen in the future.
Against this worry for the future or pain over the past, The Power of Now challenges us to come to a state of surrender, by accepting life for its current reality and searching within. It's only in that state of surrender that we can truly discover internal calm. Looking to a person, place or thing won’t bring us to that state of peace: real inner peace comes from the inside.
10% Happier, Dan Harris
Dan Harris is an anchor and journalist on ABC, and his book, 10% Happier tells the story of his life on camera. We see Dan from a young age wanting to be on television, and subsequently working his way up the news desk. However, through his work and time spent documenting natural disasters, several mass shootings and reporting from numerous combat zones, he begins to suffer PTSD, culminating in a panic attack whilst on television. Looking for a way to restore his sense of being and inner-calm, Dan finds himself on the path to mindfulness.
Harris’s writing is intelligent, witty, fast-paced and informative, but this book might be especially for you if you are slightly skeptical of mindfulness yourself. Harris was a skeptic himself, cynical of the practice and fully addresses the reservations he had before. There’s a lot of logical explanation in this book that will make you want to try it out too, since joining him on his journey from the lows of life before mindfulness and then seeing the positive impact it had on him makes for captivating reading. It also teaches certain meditation techniques to help you on your own personal journey, such as short breathing exercises that help you focus on the present.
Wherever You Go, There You Are, Jon Kabat-Zinn
Written in short chapters that makes this an easy book to dip in and out of, Wherever You Go shares many lessons on meditation mindfulness, and is a great option for people curious and interested in the practice.
It asks us to look at our environment in a new way, to look at the sky and the stars and appreciate the beauty of the present moment. Kabat-Zinn also goes into the practicalities of meditation, which I personally found to be greatly liberating. Many people think that for meditation to be effective you need to give it a respectable amount of time like half an hour for example - however, Kabat-Zinn says that doesn’t have to be the case, and it was invaluable to discover how to have rewarding and impactful sessions even in just five or ten minutes of meditation.
Ultimately the book asks you to identify what is creating distance between you and your life and from experiencing life directly. Of course only you can answer that, but Wherever You Go, There You Are is a great start to figuring this out.
Mindfulness: An Eight-Week Plan for Finding Peace in a Frantic World, Danny Penman
This book is based on Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy, which has been clinically proven to treat depression and anxiety, stress exhaustion. It introduces an eight-week programme that offers simple yet powerful practices to incorporate into your daily life.
The preliminary chapters take us through how mindfulness can help silence the inner-voice that’s continually sowing criticism and doubt, and the fact that we all have this critic inside that we have to deal with. The next chapters take us through the eight-week course: there are specific exercises for each individual week, consisting of 10 - 20 minutes daily sessions using the simple meditations found at the core of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy.
The program is easy to follow, and when adhered to properly can generate great results. For those looking for a straightforward plan for mindfulness, this comes highly recommended.
Clarity & Connection, Yung Pueblo
Clarity & Connection is a book by Yung Pueblo, who's famous for his bestseller “Inward”. In this book, he's put together a bunch of poems and stories that help us see how past hurts and baggage can affect our relationships today.
This book is a great standalone read, but you can also read it alongside "Inward". If you're interested in personal growth, understanding yourself better, or connecting more deeply with others, this book is for you. It's all about the self: understanding, loving, and being okay with yourself.
Yung Pueblo talks about life as a series of ups and downs. He reminds us that everyone experiences feelings like jealousy, anger, self-doubt, and even not liking themselves very much. But he teaches us that it's not about controlling these emotions; instead, it's about controlling how we react to them. And we can only do that when we understand ourselves better. Life keeps moving, and so should we.
The Miracle of Mindfulness: An Introduction to the Practice of Meditation, Thich Nhat Hanh
The Miracle of Mindfulness is a deeply insightful guide penned by Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh. Touted as one of the best introductions to meditation practice by the New Age Journal, this book combines the wisdom and beauty of mindfulness in an approachable manner.
In this enlightening guide, Thich Nhat Hanh gently weaves together relatable anecdotes and practical exercises to help readers master the art of mindfulness—the ability to be fully awake and aware in every moment. His teaching style is lucid and soothing, making the complex concept of mindfulness easily comprehensible to all.
This book elegantly brings to light the profound idea that every mundane activity, from washing dishes to answering the phone to peeling an orange, presents an opportunity for greater self-understanding and tranquility. The Miracle of Mindfulness serves not only as an introduction to meditation, but also as an invitation to view life from a different perspective. It prompts us to slow down and embrace the beauty of the present moment, guiding us towards a more mindful, serene, and fulfilled life.
Mindfulness is a simple, yet powerful approach to effecting positive change in your day-to-day. There are many books and guides out there on the subject, but if you’re looking to introduce this practice into your life, the publications above are the best mindfulness books around, providing a firm foundation to a new consciousness focused on living in the present, and with a fuller existence.