This list takes in those mindfulness books that tell you the best what mindfulness does rather than what it is. And there lies the difference.
Remember this mantra when you go in for anything new: What it does is more important than what it is.
You should always be more interested in what a thing does than what it is. And, you should be even more interested in knowing if what you’re asked to believe in, is their belief as well. Now, you wouldn’t pay a small fortune to buy a jar of weight loss pills from an overweight guy, right?
So, this post isn’t about the books that explain what mindfulness is. Instead, these books here are about what mindfulness can best help you with — one book focusing on one benefit. Also, these books are about the benefits of mindfulness that I believe in.
I even daresay that these are the best books on the practical uses of mindfulness by many yardsticks. What you can get from these is a deep insight into mindfulness without tangling up your brain wires.
1. Mindfulness For Pain
Vidyamala Burch knows the agony of living with never-ending pain. She injured her spine in 1977 when she was just 16 years old. It happened when she was lifting someone out of a swimming pool in lifesaving practice. The injury was serious.
Five years later, she met with a car accident and her spine got injured once again. Thereafter, over the years her spinal condition has only deteriorated. So much so, she now uses crutches or a wheelchair for mobility due to partial paraplegia.
She was in treatment at a New Zealand hospital for a spinal injury in 1985. It was here that she first came in touch with meditation and mindfulness. Later, she used mindfulness to ease her mental suffering associated with the physical pain.
What she learned, in fact, was that her pain is unavoidable, but she could ease her mental misery caused by that pain. Clinical trials show that mindfulness meditation can be as effective as prescription painkillers. Mindfulness can also reduce anxiety, depression, irritability, exhaustion and sleeplessness of chronic painful illnesses.
In 2004 she founded Breathworks, which has now spread to over 25 countries.
And in the late 2013, Burch co-authored an excellent book with Danny Penman, a science and health writer for the UK’s Daily Mail, Mindfulness For Health. Mindfulness For Health teaches simple practices that take just 10-20 minutes per day. The eight-week program at the heart of this book helps relieve chronic pain and the stress of illness.
It was awarded the Best Book in Popular Medicine at the British Medical Association’s Book Awards 2014.
This book also appears as You Are Not Your Pain in the United States. Jeremy Hunter, PhD, says of this book, “You Are Not Your Pain provides a lucid and powerful guide to meeting life’s inevitabilities. With this book you will learn to work with pain and use it to catalyze growth and transformation.”
2. Mindfulness For Leadership
On July 14, 2001, the San Diego Union Tribune carried this news item: A Marine Corps lieutenant, convicted Thursday of trying to steal $2.7 million from the Federal Reserve by impersonating another officer, was sentenced Friday to nine years in prison. The marine was 1st Lt. Matthew Tenney. Matt was just 25 then. He entered a prison in the maximum-security area of the base brig at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton. His future looked a long dark tunnel.
While in prison, he came to know of mindfulness, and started to learn and practice it. This was going to change his life inside out. It was here that he learnt that you can create happiness anywhere.
You can go check his page and see with your own eyes that he is now an international keynote speaker, a corporate leadership trainer, and a consultant with the Perth Leadership Institute.
In The Mindfulness Edge, he teams with neuroscientist Tim Gard, PhD, to offer a step-by-step, practical guidance for a seamless integration of mindfulness into your daily life.
The Mindfulness Edge tells you how a subtle inner shift can turn everyday acts into opportunities for making you a better leader.
Tenney and Gard tackle mindfulness as both a practice and a science in their book. They explain how our thoughts outside of the present can have a negative impact on our ability to make the best decisions. They bring up lots of neurological details on exactly how the brain works on our decision making process. They back up with excellent research data how mindfulness can alter those neurological processes.
To summarize its benefit, with The Mindfulness Edge, the leaders will be able to take a step back and reflect, “Are we seeing this situation as it is or as we think it is?”
3. Mindfulness for Happiness
Among the hundreds of free classes that Google offers to its employees, one of the most popular is called S.I.Y., or “Search Inside Yourself.” It is the brainchild of Chade-Meng Tan, a soft-spoken engineer who arrived at Google in 2000 as Employee No. 107. Meng dreamed up the course and refined it with the help of nine experts in the use of mindfulness at work.
Up to the time of writing this, more than a thousand Google employees had taken the class.
Meng’s official job title was Jolly Good Fellow. He retired from Google in Oct 2015. He now serves as the chairman of Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute (SIYLI). Incidentally, Arianna Huffington, President and Editor-in-Chief of The Huffington Post, is also present on the board of SIYLI. She is the author of 14 books, including Thrive.
His course turned into Search Inside Yourself, a best-selling book. In this book, Chade-Meng Tan offers a proven method for enhancing mindfulness and emotional intelligence in life and work. Wherever you work, this book will let you find inner peace through mindfulness.
Now, this is a book recommended by giants as Daniel Goleman, author of the international bestseller Emotional Intelligence, Jon Kabat-Zinn, perhaps the world’s most renowned mindfulness expert and author of Wherever You Go, There You Are, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader and author of The Art of Happiness, and Tony Hsieh, New York Times bestselling author of Delivering Happiness and CEO of Zappos.com, Inc.
This is an easy to read book that is well-illustrated with amusing cartoons and drawings. To say the least, this book can be quite engaging to the present yuppie generation.
4. Mindfulness For Stress
Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD, introduced mindfulness to the western world. He distanced it from its Buddhist roots to create the scientific program Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). Now, when that person recommends a book — A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook — you must sit up straight and take note.
Kabat-Zinn writes, “Bob Stahl and Elisha Goldstein have done a great job in making the art of mindfulness and its cultivation through MBSR practices accessible to a public readership at a time when interest in both is rising exponentially in our society due to the increasing stress and speed and anxiety of our lives.”
In conclusion, this book works as perhaps the most essential companion workbook to Kabat-Zinn’s bestseller Full Catastrophe Living.
To emphasize, MBSR can help us live with less stress, panic, fear, and anxiety. It can get us to cultivate more ease, connection, and well-being in our lives. It can help you build a stronger mind and a healthier life. The authors provide a clear, step-by-step approach. They use illuminating insights and practical exercises.
Now, this is a through-and-through practical book. You would want to — and it nudges you at the right places — do the exercises right away. The practices given are approachable and doable. A further relief, for most of them you won’t need anything special except a place to sit without any disturbance or noise.
5. Mindfulness for Eating
So, what are you really hungry for? Is it food, happiness, or something else? Why do you overeat? And, how many of you eat even when you’re not physically hungry?
We are bombarded with signals to eat, from fast-food commercials to the smell of barbecue and burgers. And this drives our overeating behaviors. And overeating leads to obesity.
The reverse may be true as well. Recent research by Alexander Johnson, a Michigan State University neuroscientist, suggests that the obese people are more likely to overeat. Johnson says, “Our study suggests both a psychological and neurobiological account for why obese individuals may be particularly vulnerable to these signals (to eat).”
In The Mindfulness-Based Eating Solution, Lynn Rossy, PhD, offers a whole-body approach to help you discover the real reasons why you’re overeating. Rossy suggests that by bringing more consciousness to our eating, we can nourish ourselves in a truer sense. And experience genuine well-being.
Lynn Rossy is a licensed clinical psychologist at the University of Missouri’s wellness program. She developed Eat for Life. It is a mindfulness-based intuitive eating program that has been successful in helping people —
- overcome eating issues,
- improve body image, and
- enhance weight loss.
As a matter of fact, her program has been proven effective over many studies. Women in the her ‘Eat for Life’ program reported higher levels of body appreciation and intuitive eating. Also, they noted fewer problematic eating behaviors in themselves than a comparison group.
Obesity due to overeating is a growing health problem in many parts of the world. This book will help you learn how to listen to your body’s needs, so that you can stay healthy and happy, without giving up your love for food.
Bonus: Mindfulness for Kids
This is a little gem of a book written by Eline Snel, an MBSR trainer who runs the Academy for Mindful Teaching in the Netherlands: Sitting Still Like a Frog: Mindfulness Exercises for Kids. It has simple mindfulness exercises to help your child between the ages 5-12 deal with anxiety, improve concentration, and handle difficult emotions.
Overall, this is a small book, around 100 pages. But be aware, this book is not meant for reading by the kids. It is to be read by their parents and the methods taught to their kids. On the plus side, it includes a 60-minute audio CD of guided exercises read by Myla Kabat-Zinn.
Before you go out to check any of these books, just two things—
- Mindfulness in 1 line: When you let your thoughts and emotions arrive and pass through your mind, but do not get carried away by them, you’re mindful.
- Mindfulness in 7 Steps: One of our most Googled and shared posts ever, that you might want to take a quick look at to learn how to be mindful in just seven steps.
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