5 Best Books On Mindfulness For Beginners (Review)

Best-Mindfulness-Books

This list takes in those mindfulness books that tell you the best what mindfulness does rather than what mindfulness 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 get asked to believe in, is the belief of the one who’s asking you 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 the author of this post believes in.

We even daresay 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.

Remember, what it does is more important than what it is. Click To Tweet

Book 1. Mindfulness For Pain

Best-Mindfulness-Book-Burch

Vidyamala Burch knows the agony of living with never-ending pain. She injured her spine 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.

That was the first time.

Five years later, her spine got injured once again when she met with a car accident.

Over the years, her spinal condition has kept deteriorating. Her partial paraplegia got so worse that she now has to use either crutches or a wheelchair for moving around.

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 physical pain.

I cannot make the pain go away, but I can change how I respond to it. – Vidyamala Burch, author of 'Mindfulness For Pain' Click To Tweet

What she learned, in fact, was that her pain is unavoidable, but she could ease her mental misery caused by that pain.

In fact, clinical trials show mindfulness meditation can be as effective as prescription painkillers. Mindfulness can also reduce anxiety, depression, irritability, exhaustion, and sleeplessness of chronically painful illnesses.

Research has found mindfulness meditation to benefit many health conditions:

  • Improving mood and quality of life in chronic pain conditions, for example reducing levels of depression and anxiety.
  • Reducing physical pain and the emotional reaction to it, allowing individuals to change their relationship with their condition by living in harmony with their pain rather than trying to fight it.
  • Improving social functioning by strengthening relationships, improving sleep quality, and decreasing the level of interference that pain has on daily activities
  • Re-establishing a sense of control by learning coping mechanisms and feeling empowered in knowing that individuals have a choice in response to pain and discomfort.
Vidyamal
Vidyamala-Burch (Pic: Breathworks)

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.”

In 2009 Vidyamala Burch co-founded Breathworks, which has now spread to over 25 countries.

How Do You 'Do' Mindfulness?
How do you do mindfulness: Breathworks Team

Book 2. Mindfulness For Leadership

Best Mindfulness Book-Tenney

On July 14, 2001, 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 prison in the maximum-security area of the base brig at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton. His future looked like a long dark tunnel.

While in prison, he was in solitary confinement. That meant spending 22 hours each day in a small cell all by himself.

Then he came to know of mindfulness and started to learn and practice it. This was going to change his life inside out. It was though his mindfulness practice that he learned you can create happiness anywhere.

You might check his page to see he is now indeed an international keynote speaker and a corporate leadership trainer.

Being fully present with a person is one of the most effective ways to show that we care. – Matt Tenney Click To Tweet

In The Mindfulness Edge, he teams with neuroscientist Tim Gard, PhD, to offer step-by-step, practical guidance for 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?

Leadership Speaker With An Inspiring Story Giving A Keynote At The Convening Leaders Conference
Matt Tenney talking about his transformation

Book 3. Mindfulness for Happiness

Best Mindfulness Book Tan

Among the hundreds of free classes that Google offers to its employees, one of the most popular ones was 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 (including specialists from the fields of meditation, mindfulness, neuroscience, leadership, and emotional intelligence) for his Google co-workers to achieve a better balance of life at work. Thus began S.I.Y. in 2007.

The aim of S.I.Y. was to help people develop the skills of mindfulness, empathy, compassion, and overall emotional intelligence, and use these to thrive in life. 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). SIYLI continues to work with Google as well as SAP, the United Nations, Procter & Gamble, and many others.

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 a best-selling book called Search Inside Yourself: The Unexpected Path to Achieving Success, Happiness (and World Peace). 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.

Chade-Meng Tan. Picture by Neo Xiaobin
Chade-Meng Tan. Picture courtesy: Neo Xiaobin for Singapore Times

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.

This is an easy-to-read book that is well-illustrated with amusing cartoons and drawings. You would find this book to be quite engaging in the way Chade-Meng .

Watch Chade-Meng Tan speak on TED stage:

Chade-Meng Tan: Everyday compassion at Google

Book 4. Mindfulness For Stress

Best Mindfulness Book Goldstein

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 a person of that stature 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.

Humans are wired with an automatic negativity bias, paying more attention to what’s negative than positive. ― Elisha Goldstein Click To Tweet

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.

The Power of Mindfulness and Stress Reduction by Elisha Goldstein

Book 5. Mindfulness for Eating

Best Mindfulness Book Rossy

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 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 wellbeing.

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.

Take a look at the 20 finest tips to help you start mindful eating.


Bonus Book: Mindfulness for Kids

Best Mindfulness book For Kids Snel

This is the truest Mindfulness book for beginners – as it’s for kids, the real beginners in the experience of life!

It 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 a little aware, this book is not meant for reading by the kids. Snel knows quite well kids would find it difficult to read and understand any book this topic. So, hew wrote it in a way to be read by the 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, a professor emeritus of medicine and the creator of the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

5 Mindfulness Exercises for Kids 🌟😊

Final Words

Before you go out to check any of these books, just two things—

  1. 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.
  2. 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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Author Bio: Sandip Roy is psychology writer, happiness researcher, and medical doctor. Founder of Happiness India Project, and chief editor of its blog. He writes popular-science articles on positive psychology and related topics.


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